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Dearborn City Hall 2008 file photoTwo parallel opportunities that aligned to bolster Dearborn’s east downtown business district, reduce costly local government overhead and preserve a 90-year-old historic building have earned the city and partners state recognition.

Gov. Rick Snyder and Michigan State Housing Development Authority executive director Kevin Elsenheimer announced six recipients of the 2016 Governor’s Awards for Historic Preservation.

“Each year we recognize the contributions of people who devote time, energy and money into preserving Michigan’s historic structures and archaeological sites,” Snyder said. “These sites are irreplaceable and are important to maintaining a sense of place and our authentic Michigan identity.”

When city leaders and the East Dearborn Downtown Development Authority first recruited Minneapolis-based Artspace to look into developing affordable living/work space for local artists the intent was to re-purpose a vacant building. Yet the then-occupied Dearborn City Hall, with its spiral staircase, high ceilings and arched windows set in a park-like campus became Artspace’s preferred choice. Nearly at the same time, a 12-year-old office building at the edge of the other municipal complex in town went up for sale at an attractive price. Elected leaders seized the opportunity to move into a modern facility that could be configured for more efficient customer service with the added benefit of less costly overhead for the city.

After successful negotiations and careful planning, Dearborn’s City Hall moved to the newer complex and three months later Artspace began rehabilitating the historic building as space for artists to live, work and exhibit. The building was aptly named City Hall Artspace Lofts. The State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) at MSHDA initiated the Governor’s Awards in 2003 to recognize outstanding historic preservation achievements that reflect a commitment to the preservation of Michigan’s unique character and the many archaeological sites and historic structures that document Michigan’s past.

Previous recipient projects include rehabilitations of the Old Rugged Cross Church in Pokagon Township, the Richter Brewery in Escanaba, the General Motors Technical Center in Warren, and the archaeological investigations at Fort St. Joseph in Niles. “We recognize partnerships, innovation, creativity and excellence with these awards,” said Elsenheimer.

“Good historic preservation projects reflect a desire to connect the past with the future, they involve collaboration, and we are pleased to recognize 26 different organizations this year.” The 2016 recipients are:

  • City of Dearborn; Artspace Projects, Inc.; Neumann/Smith Architecture; the Monahan Company; and the East Dearborn Downtown Development Authority for the rehabilitation of Dearborn City Hall Complex
  • Mackinac Island State Park Commission for the ongoing archaeological investigation of Fort Michilimackinac
  • City of St. Joseph, Smay Trombley Architecture, Mihm Enterprises, the Heritage Museum and Cultural Center, the Lighthouse Forever Fund and the Citizens of St. Joseph for the rehabilitation of the St. Joseph North Pier Inner and Outer Lights
  • Home Renewal Systems LLC, Quinn Evans Architects, and Wolverine Building Group for the rehabilitation of Fremont High School, Fremont
  • The Saginaw-Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan; Central Michigan University Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work; and the City of Mount Pleasant for the Mount Pleasant Indian Industrial Boarding School archaeological investigation
  • Indian Village Historical Collections, City of Detroit, Public Lighting Authority, DTE Energy, Offshore Spars, SS Stripping/CDS Performance Coatings, Corby Energy Services, and Consulting Engineering Associates, Inc. for the Indian Village Historic Streetlight Rehabilitation Project, Detroit

The awards will be presented at a public ceremony in the Michigan State Capitol Rotunda in May, which is National Historic Preservation Month. To learn about previous Governor’s Award recipients visit Michigan.gov/shpo, click on Special Projects and Governor’s Awards.

(Press Release provided by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority)