CALL TO ACTION – HB 5718 in House Tax Policty Committee May 16, 2018!  Click here for more information. 

Join and get involved with the MI Impact Coalition, as we work to bring back Michigan’s State Rehab Tax Credit.  Senate Bill 469 (S1) passed the Senate on December 13, 2017. House Bill 5178 (HB 5178) has also been introduced to reinstate the Michigan Historic Preservation Tax Credit. These bills would reinstate the popular program that offers a credit of up to 25 percent of rehabilitation expenses against state income tax.

Fall Benefit

Every year MHPN hosts a Fall Benefit in a unique and interesting historic site.  The events are typically in southeast or central Michigan, and always include a great time.  Past events have been held in a historic home in Lansing; at the Detroit Club, Detroit; the Municipal Building/Christman Building, Lansing; the Riverside Arts Center in Ypsilanti; Harmonie Club/Virgil Carr Cultural Center in Detroit’s Paradise Valley.  Food, music,  both a silent and live auction, and a chance to network with preservationists from across the state make the event the place to be each fall.

The proceeds from the benefit and the auctions help to support the ongoing operations of our organization and help to facilitate preservation in Michigan.

Charles L Freer Residence, 1894 by architect Wilson Eyre Jr. (photo courtesy of Alexander Vertifoff)

The Michigan Historic Preservation Network cordially invite you to the

23nd Annual MHPN Fall Benefit

The Charles Lang Freer House

Saturday, October 21, 2017
5:30 PM – 9:00 PM
71 East Ferry Street (between Woodward and John R),
Detroit, MI 48202

Register using Eventbrite or a Registration Form to mail or fax back!
RSVP by Friday, October 6, 6PM — Capacity is 90 guests

Registration:    $100 per person

$75 for Students, Government Employees/Officials, Seniors (60+)

The evening includes strolling dinner fare and desserts, hosted bar for beer and white wine,  live and silent auctions, tours, marketplace, and more!

The Freer House is barrier free; please call ahead for assistance. 

Business dress is appropriate for the evening.

The MHPN is a 501-c-3 organization; $50 of your registration fee represents a gift in support of its programs.

About the MHPN’s Fall Benefit

Members and friends of the MHPN have gathered for over 20 years to spend an enjoyable Fall evening at a significant historic venue and to raise funds for the organization.  Most often we are in Detroit at buildings such as the Fisher, Grand Army of the Republic, or Guardian.  This year, we are at the Charles Lang Freer House!

We’re at a unique Detroit venue

We have the unusual opportunity to hold our Fall Benefit in the 1892 Charles Lang Freer House, one of the nation’s most significant examples of Shingle Style architecture.  Now owned by Wayne State University, the house has been the headquarters of the Merrill-Palmer Skillman Institute since 1920, significant for 20th century women’s history related to pioneers in research and training in the field of child development.  It is only periodically open to the public.   

Charles Lang Freer (1854–1919) moved to Detroit in 1880 where, with his friend, neighbor, and business partner, Col. Frank J. Hecker, he established the Michigan Peninsular Car Company that eventually merged 13 railroad car companies into American Car and Foundry.  Beginning in 1887, Freer began amassing a spectacular collection of Asian art, including paintings, sculpture, prints, and ceramics from the Middle East, Indian, Korea, China, and Japan, as well as contemporary American art with a particular focus on works by James McNeill Whistler. He was a leader in the Detroit arts and business communities. 

Designed by the noted Philadelphia architect Wilson Eyre and built in 1892, the house was enlarged to accommodate Freer’s growing art collections with additions in 1906, 1910, and 1913. Working with Eyre and artists such as Thomas and Maria Oakey Dewing and Dwight W. Tryon, Freer made his home a setting for his art.  A special feature was James Abbott McNeill Whistler’s famous Peacock Room, originally commissioned by a London patron in 1876. Freer’s art collections remained in the house until his death in 1919 when they, as well as the Peacock Room, were bequeathed to the Smithsonian Institution where he had also underwritten construction of the Freer Gallery of Art on the National Mall.

Freer emerges as a thoughtful patron who created a home distinctly different from the mansions other industrialists were building at the time. Although the decorative finishes have been lost through the years and changes have been made to accommodate institutional use, the home’s strong design and the reproduction of some of its works of art allow the visitor to visualize its restrained grandeur. 

To learn more about current goals to maintain and preserve the home, visit

Here are the details you need

It is recommended that you park in Wayne State University’s Parking Lot #35 directly behind (north) of the Freer House (see map).  Guests self-park for $7.75 in this fenced, unattended, 24/7 surface lot entered off John R Street between East Ferry and East Palmer Streets.  The automated gate accepts Visa, MasterCard, or exact change; if using a charge card, the same card must be used to exit the lot as used to enter.  Guests enter the Freer House through the rounded-arch throughway of the carriage house.    

You do not have to be an MHPN member to attend.  Full refunds are provided up to the RSVP deadline.  You may give your ticket to another guest but please let us know.  The MHPN is a 501-c-3 organization; $50 of your registration fee is a gift supporting programs.  For questions, call 517-371-8080, or e-mail

We look forward to seeing you there!

Newly added…

We have just learned that in addition to touring the Freer House during the Fall Benefit, our guests may now walk next door between 5:30 – 6:30 PM for a self-guided, first floor tour of the splendid Hecker-Tierney House.  Colonel Frank Hecker (1846-1927), a Civil War veteran born in Freedom, Michigan, was the close friend and business partner of Charles Freer.  Hecker and Freer purchased adjacent properties on the outskirts of Detroit for their homes.  Freer assisted his friend in choosing New York-based architect Louis Kamper who designed his stone-sheathed, Chateauesque-style residence constructed 1888-1891.  After Hecker’s death, the home was a boarding house until 1947 when the Smiley Brothers Music Company purchased it as a sales space for pianos and organs.  The next owner was the law firm of Charfoos & Christensen P.C.  In 1991-1992, the firm undertook its complete restoration, working with the Ann Arbor-based preservation office of Quinn Evans Architects.  Doug Peters, a partner, led the effort and said of the project: “Our law firm has been in Detroit since 1929.  A lot of law firms were moving out to the suburbs; we wanted to make a statement that we were going to stay in Detroit and part of that statement is amplified by our being in a landmark home.”  Its sale to Wayne State University in 2015 has assured the building’s stewardship.  Now the Tierney Alumni House, its lavish interior, including parquet floors, decorative plaster- and woodwork, and stained glass windows, welcomes alumni and friends who visit this Woodward Avenue gem.   

MHPN Awards…

The Michigan Historic Preservation Network (MHPN) is pleased to announce that it will present two special awards at the upcoming 2017 Fall Benefit, on Saturday, October 21 at the Charles Lang Freer House in Detroit.

John Douglas Peters, of Belleville, is being honored with a 2017 MHPN Citizen Award. The Citizen Award is reserved for an outstanding individual or individuals, who through personal effort and/or involvement in historic preservation projects have made a significant contribution to the preservation of Michigan’s heritage. Doug Peters is best known in Michigan’s preservation community for championing the restoration of the Colonel Frank J. Hecker Mansion on Woodward Avenue. A retired Detroit legal scholar and litigator, Mr. Peters is also recognized for his many volunteer and leadership roles within Detroit’s cultural community, particularly with Preservation Wayne, now Preservation Detroit.

The Lifetime Achievement Award is presented by consensus of the Network’s senior leadership. The individuals who receive this award have worked throughout their careers to promote historic preservation in the State of Michigan. On October 21, the MHPN will present a Lifetime Achievement Award to Dr. Thomas W. Brunk, of Detroit. Dr. Brunk is a recognized expert on Detroit’s cultural history with an unparalleled breadth and depth of expertise on the city’s history, architecture, art, crafts, and social and intellectual life. Through forty years of meticulous research and a steady outpouring of books, articles, essays, and exhibition catalogues, he has demonstrated his role as Detroit’s foremost chronicler of subjects such as Charles Lang Freer, Pewabic Pottery, the Scarab Club, and the Masonic Temple, among many others.

Read all about past Fall Benefit locations and press: