Michigan State Historic Preservation Review Board Meeting Minutes September 14, 2018

Minutes of the State Historic Preservation Review Board Meeting

September 14, 2018, 10:00 A.M.
Board Room, Fourth Floor, Michigan State Housing Development Authority
735 East Michigan Avenue, Lansing, Michigan


Rhonda Baker, Dale Gyure, Misty Jackson, Janet Kreger, Brian Rebain, Krysta Ryzewski, Grace A. M. Smith


Kemba Braynon, Sally Bund


Amy Arnold, Debra Ball Johnson, Brian Conway, Scott Grammer, Katie Kolokithas, Joelle Letts, Martha MacFarlane-Faes, Nathan Nietering, Luke Pickrahn, Stacy Tchorzynski, Diane Tuinstra, Todd Walsh


From List.


Rebain called the meeting to order.


John Malvahil, attorney for Lehman Investments, indicated he was attending today’s meeting originally for agenda item 7 which was since removed from the agenda.  His client thought their appeal item might be postponed until the January Review Board meeting, and wanted to register his disappointment that their appeal was not being heard today and may need to wait another four months.  In interim communications, it may be possible for the Review Board to call a special meeting to hear this appeal in the next month, which would be greatly appreciated.  

Rebecca Binno Savage, Detroit Preservation Consultant, spoke briefly in support of the Grande Ballroom nomination being heard today.  She completed an earlier nomination of the property back in 2007, which was never put forward for nomination.  She believes it is a very significant property.


Suggestion to move Cadillac House nomination earlier in the agenda so the same presenter can do both sequentially (5f to 5b)

Smith moved approval of the agenda with the change in sequence of Cadillac House
Kreger supported the motion
Vote: 7-0


Kreger noted small grammatical corrections which will be provided to T. Walsh by email for incorporation into final document. Kreger also noted that in B. Conway’s staff report section, the final bullet point, discussed the CLG grant to Kalamazoo being withdrawn because the Fountain of the Pioneers was dismantled “due to racial implications of the artwork.” Kreger asked if this is how it should be phrased for the record.  Conway suggested re-wording the phrase as “due to local controversy over its content.”  The Board voiced approval of this wording change. 

Gyure moved the approval of the May 11, 2018 meeting minutes incorporating the changes discussed
Smith supported the motion
Vote: 7-0


Walsh stated that he very recently provided further information to the Board members re: Board Bylaws. This has been long time topic of discussion, Conway suggested the January meeting when bylaws updates can be discussed and voted on.  Board members can review and consult by email before then.



  • Nathan Nietering has been hired as the new SHPO Departmental Technician filling several roles.
  • Mollie Olinyk has resigned after 9 years of making the commute from Ann Arbor – SHPO is in the process of filling the position.
  • SHPO is also down one student assistant after she recently accepted full-time employment in the preservation field.
  • Certified Local Government grant applications due Oct. 1; the MI SHPO National Park Service appropriation is $1.2 million, therefore $102,000 must be granted out to local communities.
  • Michigan Lighthouse Assistance Program grant applications due Nov. 16.
  • Marine Heritage Grant project recently completed ($123,000 from NPS, matched by MSHDA) to survey and complete Historic Structures Reports on four remote lighthouses on Lake Superior.
  • A. Arnold is putting together a grant application for an NPS Civil Rights project grant, which if awarded will provide window and roof repair funds for the historic King Solomon Baptist Church on 14th Street in Detroit, a significant site in America’s Civil Rights movement.   
  • A. Arnold is also beginning work on the next 5-year statewide preservation plan.  As part of the planning process, public meetings will be held in Spring 2019 – Bay City, Escanaba, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Traverse City, Lansing, also an online survey to collect additional info. 
  • The SHPO’s new online productivity program – MiSHPO – is in the testing phase.  We have encountered many problems to be addressed, GIS component not yet functional, staff is working to resolve the bugs and enhancements with MSHDA before moving toward the public component. 
  • Controversial Section 106 projects which SHPO is presently involved in:
    • Railroad Bascule Bridge in Port Huron- private owner wants it removed, bridge is of a very rare bascule design, there is local interest in preservation as a visual landmark.  In order to remove the bridge, it has to be lowered, hence the Army Corps of Engineers permit and SHPO’s involvement.  
    • Elk Rapids Library- library board would like to expand the facility, a contingent of local citizens opposed, SHPO is involved because of the State Historical Marker on the site.  SHPO has determined the addition does meet the SOI Standards, Conway is going to Elk Rapids in the next few days to meet with community members.
    • Isle Royale- SHPO has been involved for nearly 10 years with the development of a new Cultural Resource Management Plan. A central conflict exists between the Wilderness Act and National Historic Preservation Act.  A large portion of the island is designated Wilderness, or potential Wilderness, but SHPO together with NPS has identified resources which are NRHP eligible.  NPS has recently put forward a nomination for Isle Royale’s Tobin Harbor, which has national significance.  The resolution of wilderness vs. cultural resources will have national implications.
  • MHPN Fall Benefit is on Sept. 29 at the Masonic Temple in Detroit.
  • Oct. 13 is Archaeology Day at Michigan History Center/Museum.
  • Oct. 14, DOCOMOMO-MI tour of Yamasaki sites near Detroit, authors of books about modernism will also be present.
  • November 13-17 is the National Trust for Historic Preservation conference, Arnold and Conway attending.
  • An article about Michigan’s role in the Modernism movement was just published in the New York Times.


  • Over 1,200 individual participants at Archaeology Day in 2017; this year will be even bigger and better with the following activities:
  • Author and photographer Chris Winters will give a presentation on the Edmund Fitzgerald 
  • Activities: Spear a deer target with an atlatl, make a clay pot, scavenger hunt, and see a range of special exhibits from various entities, including the digital preservation of Sanilac petroglyphs, underwater robots, learn about ancient Michigan meals, excavations from Fort Michilimackinac, Study of German POW camps in U.P., and new this year, a panel of archaeology experts will examine items brought in by the public.


  • Most of this year has been taken up with grant and contract projects, including the expansion of North Lansing Historic District boundary, Sault Ste. Marie downtown district, Oxford, Southfield (2 residential districts), Hart Plaza and Northville.
  • We have a number of letters of support for sites being considered today, also several notable books referencing projects currently in the works or relating to today’s nominations. 


  • Comment by Kreger, for A. Arnold – There will be opportunities to solicit feedback about the 5-year Preservation Plan at the 2019 MHPN conference in Holland as a different way to collect public comments.


CHOCTAW Shipwreck Site, Presque Isle, Presque Isle County
Presented by: Phil Hartmayer
Moved for Approval, adding Criteria C: Jackson
Seconded:  Ryzewski
Vote: 7-0
Criteria: A, C and D
Level of Significance: State


Kreger mentioned that the summary of the court case regarding the vessel’s collision and sinking was very interesting, providing new vocabulary terms.  Kreger inquired as to the boundaries of the site established to protect the shipwreck, as the pieces would have spread out while sinking.  Hartmeyer stated that they cast a wide net for the boundary, it would be impossible to be 100% certain of including all items, but that boundaries could always be expanded in the future if new information is gathered.  Ryzewski stated that she felt it was a very well contextualized story, and because the shipwreck is inaccessible to divers, it makes this project all the more worthwhile to nominate. Smith stated that she agreed with Walsh’s earlier comments that the argument is clearly made that that it could also be listed under Criterion C. Hartmayer narrated additional known history of the vessel, of unique design and construction, and mentioned that vast historical research was compiled for this nomination.  Walsh stated that the text would have to be rearranged but not edited to include Criterion C. Hartmayer stated his original intent was to focus on Criteria A and D but in the course of research this particular shipwreck does have a strong design element.    

Site: Cadillac House, Lexington, Sanilac County
Presented by: Ruth Mills
Moved for Approval: Kreger
Seconded: Smith
Vote: 7-0
Criteria: A and C
Level of Significance: Local


Jackson inquired as to the ending date for the period of significance.  Mills indicated they selected the period presented based on the owner’s desire to pursue tax credits to restore the building to an earlier late 19th century time period.  Kreger stated that it is interesting that the Roxbury Group is involved with this rehab project.  Mills indicated Roxbury’s principal has a family connection to this community, hence the interest.  An aide to Senator Phil Pavlov spoke briefly in support of this project and thanked Mills for preparing the nomination. 

Site: Philip A. Hart Plaza, Detroit, Wayne County
Presented by: Ruth Mills
Moved for Approval incorporating comments as discussed: Smith
Seconded: Kreger           
Vote: 7-0
Criteria: A (local), C (national)
Level of Significance: Local (A), National (C)


Walsh noted that this project received letters of support from Docomomo, the Movement Electronic Music Fest, Preservation Detroit

Kreger inquired why there was only a brief paragraph in the nomination about why it was named for Senator Phillip Hart, a very significant person.  Kreger also suggested that continuity needs to be made in the changing name of SmithGroup, formerly SmithGroup JJR and Smith, Hinchman and Grylls.   Smith indicated it would be most helpful to have a complete site diagram with full labeling so all resources are known.  Mills indicated two diagrams including all surface and subsurface features are included with final nomination documents.  Ryzewski stated that Wayne State University has archaeological collections from Hart Plaza site, yet the only archaeological notation in the nomination was a very brief mention.  Ryzewski suggested more detail be included referencing archaeological site findings and the potential for further discovery in the future.  Rebain inquired about the significant dates listed, as there were numerous plans put forth in the 20th Century for a civic center on the site.  Mills indicated that two previous plans stood out more than others due to significant individuals who designed them.  Smith inquired about adding Criterion D.  Mills stated that the archaeological findings would not fall within the period of significance.

Site: Grande Ballroom, Detroit, Wayne County
Presented by: Leo Early
Moved for Approval: Kreger
Seconded: Jackson
Vote: 6-0 (Ryzewski abstained)
Criteria: A
Level of Significance: Local


Walsh indicated there were numerous letters of support, the most he has seen since working for SHPO.  The Board at large noted the positive support for this nomination, as many people knew and remembered this venue.  Jackson inquired about future resubmission of this nomination at the state or national level of significance.  Walsh asked the Board at large for their consideration of also nominating under Criterion C, but recognized it has lost substantial integrity.  Rebain indicated that to elevate the level of significance would require additional context about musical acts on a regional or national scale. Smith suggested it should be compared to other similar venues elsewhere and how it fits into that larger context.  Smith also agreed with Walsh that Criterion C would be difficult to substantiate given the loss of integrity.

Kreger inquired about the end date for the period of significance.  Kreger also suggested that a pronunciation guide for ‘Grande’ would be useful, and mentioned that MC-5 should be introduced as Motor-City 5 earlier in the document so non-Detroit readers better understand the local context.  Smith noted that on page 22 “constructed by” should actually be “constructed for,” or “developed by…”  Smith raised the question of using the term “rebellion” to describe the Detroit Riots vs including the word or phrase ‘riot.’  The Board suggested that when first introduced, it should be acknowledged that the rebellion was commonly referred to as ‘the Detroit riots.’  Rebain noted an important item about integrity, that the volume of the space is still there, and is not chopped up, and this should be mentioned in the narrative.

Site: Northville Historic District (Additional Documentation & Boundary Modification), Northville, Wayne County
Presented by: Elaine Robinson
Moved to Table this item made by Baker following discussion
Seconded: Smith
Vote: 7-0


Kathy Spillane, Northville resident questioned how the school building was evaluated as contributing.  Robinson indicated that while it has not always functioned as a school, it fits with the period of significance, and retains much of the exterior integrity and materials of its original, and significant, design.  The building is still part of the earlier 1972 listing.  Robinson clarified that their project did not require interior access of the school building.  Conway confirmed that National Register designation does not preclude local action.  An audience question asked for clarification of State Attorney General’s opinion 69-19, relating to a property owner’s ability to opt-out of being included in a historic district.  Rebain clarified that the AG’s opinion related to inclusion in a local historic district, which has no bearing on the national register listing currently being discussed.  Spillane inquired about the process to notify residents that changes to a historic district were being considered.  Walsh confirmed that local newspaper notification was placed 30-days ahead of time per regulations.  Kreger mentioned that the national register is less powerful than local designation.  Conway confirmed that local comments or changes can be incorporated if found to be substantive.  Smith asked for clarification that the boundaries being discussed at today’s meeting match the original, 1972 survey boundaries.  Robinson confirmed that the boundaries are the same, this is purely a recordation of significantly more detail and data, where there had been minimal data before. 

A third Northville resident indicated she was hoping that the purpose of the new survey was to help determine if properties were contributing vs. non-contributing.  Conway stated that SHPO staff struggled through this document and suggests that the local historic district commission have some training on the application of the Secretary of the Interior Standards.  Rebain stated that this meeting is not the final stop for determining contributing vs. non-contributing status, and for the purposes of the National Register nomination, it does not matter.  Robinson indicated that changes to the text in regard to contributing vs. non-contributing were made in a subsequent version which the Board has not yet seen.  Kreger questioned if the current, unseen version of the text was final.  Walsh indicated 25 sites in the survey were evaluated by SHPO staff and the text was modified, the remainder of the text is the same.  Rebain indicated that if residents have additional historical knowledge to incorporate, it should be sent in writing to the local historic district study committee.  Baker stated that the Board must see the final version of the text before it can be approved and forwarded to the National Park Service.  Kreger stated that the Board would like to see a list of the resources that SHPO found to be challenging from this survey.

Site: Tibbits Opera House (Additional Documentation), Coldwater, Branch County
Presented by: Debra Ball Johnson
Moved for Approval: Smith (A,B and C at the local level)
Seconded: Ronda
Vote: 7-0
Criteria: A, B (state), C
Level of Significance: local (A and C), state (B)


Smith noted that on Pg. 43 the item about association with famous people (the architect, Mortimer Smith, later of Smith, Hynchman and Grylls) is actually only applicable for Criterion C.  Criterion B relates only to Barton S. Tibbits.  The director of Tibbits Opera House indicated that namesake Tibbits was the mayor of Coldwater, from a prominent local family, ran a major nearby cigar factory and was an important player in the Civil War, and that this structure was his tribute to the community.  Walsh indicated that Tibbits’ contribution will be considered and may be revised or expanded in the final nomination submittal.   Kreger indicated that her earlier comment about the name changes in reference to Smith, Hinchman and Grylls was actually relating to this document, not the earlier nomination.  Johnson noted that a nomination of this building was actually put forward in 1971 but was rejected at the federal level for the unoriginal façade.  Kreger mentioned that the restoration of this structure has won several awards from various entities, and this should be fully reflected in the nomination with a complete list, or else omitted.   


Amy Arnold, Preservation Planner

Prince Hall Grand Lodge Historic District, Detroit, Wayne County

Comments: Ryzewski – There was an excavation on Prince Hall Drive which was determined to once be a dump site.

2663 Mandingo Local Historic District Modification, Portage, Kalamazoo County

Comments: none.

Northville Local Historic District Modification, Northville, Wayne County

Comments: An audience member from Northville asked what the qualifications are for members of a local historic district study committee.  She also questioned if a property owner could opt-out of being included in a local district.  Arnold responded that at the local level, a local historic district decision is determined for be for the public purpose.  In essence, everybody’s in, or everybody’s out within the district.  A second Northville audience individual wondered how often it comes up where a local historic district is being reconsidered for the first time in 40+ years.  Kreger mentioned that the application and governance of a local historic district is different than at the federal level through a national register district, although both can overlay.   


Scott Grammer, Staff Attorney

Motion to call a special meeting to hear two administrative appeal cases: for Friday, November 2 in Lansing at 10:00a.m. made by Smith
Second: Kreger
Vote: 6-0 Abstain: Baker


January 18, 2019


Motion to adjourn: Smith
Seconded: Ryzewski
Vote: 7-0
Meeting adjourned at 2:01 pm

Prepared by Nathan Nietering