Michigan State Historic Preservation Review Board Meeting Minutes, January 25, 2013

Minutes of The

State Historic Preservation Review Board Meeting

January 25, 2013, 10:00 A.M.
Fourth Floor Boardroom, Michigan State Housing Development Authority
735 East Michigan Avenue, Lansing, Michigan

Board Members Present
Lynn Evans, Richard Harms, Ted Ligibel, Jennifer Radcliff, Dale Gyure, Ron Staley, Fiona Greenland (not sworn in so not voting, on conference call)

Board Members Absent
Elisabeth Knibbe, Janese Chapman

Staff Members Present
Bob Christensen, Martha MacFarland-Faes, Amy Arnold, Laura Ashlee, Scott Grammer, Jessica Puff, Katie Hardcastle, Scott Slagor, Stacy Tchorsynski, Bethany Berdes, Dean Anderson, Todd Walsh, Ted Grevstad-Nordbrock, Katherine Kirby, Jessica Williams, Diane Tuinstra

Members of the Public Present
Leta O’Connor (Leer Lutheran Church), Kay Fortin (Leer Lutheran Church), Julia Olsen (Leer Lutheran Church), Linda Pletcher (Leer Lutheran Church), Walter Reed (Clarklake Community Center), Lisa Gamero (PRD - DNR), Carolyn Harden (Governor’s Office), Rich Wilson, Robert Laba, Jim Gallie (PRD - DNR), Nancy Short (Governor’s Office), Colleen Clinton, Rick Wiener, Melinda Ortiz, Sara Kucharski, Adam C., Jennifer Metz (Alma), Kurt Wassgraar (Alma), Shelly Neitzel

Harms called the meeting to order at 10:00 a. m.

Approval of Agenda

Radcliff moved approval of agenda
Staley supported the motion
Vote: 6-0

Election of Vice-Chair
Harms as nominating committee nominated Evans as Vice-Chairperson of the State Historic Preservation Review Board.
Ligibel moved the election of Evans as Vice-Chairperson and Radcliff seconded the motion.
Vote: 6-0

Approval of Minutes

Ligibel moved approval of the minutes, as amended
Staley supported the motion
Vote: 6-0

Martha Macfarland-Faes Reports

  • Fiona Rose Greenland and Dale Gyure are new members to the Review Board
  • Jennifer Radcliff’s term has been renewed.


  • Senator Levin, Scott Woosley, Brian Conway, Janese Chapman and Elisabeth Knibbe are at a meeting in Detroit with the Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar regarding Historic Preservation Tax Credit projects.
  • Brian Conway will be going to the NCSHPO Board Meeting in Washington D.C. from February 24-28, 2013.
  • Susan Sheppard last day in our office was January 4, 2013.
  • MHPN Conference is in Marquette May 9-11, 2013.
  • The Michigan Modern Symposium will take place from June 13-16, 2013.
  • Detroit Residential Survey team from Meade and Hunt have completed their field work and will have a full report to us before the May Review Board Meeting.
  • Mackinac Island has two new local historic districts,

Governor’s Awards - Laura Ashlee
Glenn and Jeanine Head Miller for the rehabilitation of the former Milton and Kittie Geer House, Superior Township, Plymouth vicinity
When Glen and Jeanine Head Miller purchased the Geer House in 2000, they acquired a house that had been neglected for decades. The Millers had vision, and talent, and commitment, and they took on a rehabilitation project that has taken ten years to complete, but has resulted in the preservation of what Superior Township residents say was “everyone’s favorite house.”

Due to the years of deterioration, the house required complete overhaul of the major systems - electrical, plumbing, and heating - as well as plaster work, masonry, and carpentry. The Millers did 85 percent of the work themselves. When plaster contractors wanted to rip out the original plaster, the Geers found an expert who agreed to repair rather than replace. The Geers paid attention to every detail: they had shutter hinges recreated, hung period-appropriate wallpaper, investigated the original paint color of the trim, and rebuilt the missing side porch with architectural details that matched the front porch . In addition to the house, the Millers also restored a corn crib, an outhouse, and a milk house. When the original Geer family barn could not be saved, they rescued a barn in Monroe County that was slated for burning by the owner and relocated it to their property.

The Millers committed to “doing everything right” and used State Historic Preservation Tax Credits. Today, the complex of buildings on the Milton and Kittie Geer property once again reflect rural life in Washtenaw County. It is a source of community pride and a focal point for those who travel Ann Arbor Road. Instead of thinking: “Look at that poor old house,” passersby now think “Wow! Look at the beautiful old house.”

Neighborhood Service Organization; Fusco, Shaffer and Pappas; O’Brien Edwards Construction; and Kidorf Preservation Consulting for the rehabilitation of the former Michigan Bell and Western Electric Warehouse (NSO Bell Building), Detroit
The former Michigan Bell and Western Electric Warehouse deteriorated for years, its recognizable Yellow Pages sign visible to drivers along the Lodge freeway in Detroit. In 2012 the Neighborhood Services Organization, a fifty-seven-year-old human service agency, completed a historic rehabilitation of the building that transformed it from office and warehouse space into one that provides 155 housing units and supportive services for formerly homeless individuals. In addition, their partnership with FOCUS: Hope provides job training nearby.

The Neighborhood Services Organization used Federal Historic Preservation Tax Credits in addition to federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits and HOME/Community Development Block Grant funds. In addition, the project received support from major foundations, including the Kresge Foundation and the McGregor Foundation.

The project represents a $50 million investment in the city of Detroit. The Bell Building rehabilitation, along with two new affordable housing developments across the street, has brought vitality to the surrounding neighborhood.

Ferris State University and its Kendall College of Art and Design, Christman Capital Development Company, Tower Pinkster Architects, Hopkins Burns, and the City of Grand Rapids for the rehabilitation of the former U. S. Federal Building (Kendall College of Art and Design), Grand Rapids
The U. S. Federal Building in Grand Rapids served its original purpose from 1909 until 1981 when it became the home of the Grand Rapids Art Museum. When the new museum opened in 2007, the federal building became vacant and remained so until Ferris State University chose to redevelop the building for its Kendall College of Art and Design. Christman Capital Development led a public/private partnership to rehabilitate the historic structure as space for Kendall, while preserving the historic character of the monumental Beaux Arts-style building. Using State Historic Preservation Tax Credits and Brownfield Tax Credits, they undertook a historic rehabilitation of the building to provide an auditorium, art supply/bookstore, library, exhibition galleries, a café, classrooms, student workshops and more for students.

The rehabilitation of the U.S. Federal Building has aided Kendall in accommodating its growing student population. The project represents a $22.4 million investment in downtown Grand Rapids. The building’s location in the Division Avenue corridor has helped to revitalize that part of the city, which continues to emerge as a hub for creativity, innovation, and higher education in West Michigan.

Tibbits Opera Foundation and Arts Council, Inc., Tom Roberts, Owen-Ames-Kimball Co., Grand River Builders, Inc., and the Greater Coldwater Community for the restoration of the Tibbits Opera House, Coldwater
The first renovation of the Tibbits Opera House took place during the 1930s when the building’s façade was changed from Beaux Arts to a modest version of Art Deco to reflect the structure’s conversion to a movie house.  During the 1960s the Deco-like façade was removed and plain brick was installed in its place. Window openings were covered and a mansard roof was added. The homely exterior belied the ornate interior theater space and detracted from the fine architecture present in Coldwater’s downtown historic district.

In 1999 Tibbits Opera Foundation and Arts Council, Inc. began efforts to restore the opera house exterior. In 2011 the plain exterior was removed, and restoration began in 2012. The restoration effort involved the Coldwater community as a whole as well as the surrounding area as permanent residents and summer residents alike contributed funds to the project.

The transformation of the Tibbits Opera House is spectacular, and it has renewed community pride. The project has inspired appreciation for and understanding of the value of historic preservation, and it has spurred interest in the rehabilitation of other historic properties in downtown Coldwater.

The Old Rugged Cross Foundation, Inc., D. Layman Construction Company, and the Community of Pokagon Township, for the restoration of the First Methodist Episcopal Church of Pokagon (Old Rugged Cross Church), Pokagon Township
The First Methodist Episcopal Church of Pokagon began its life as a hops barn that was added onto by the Methodist Episcopal congregation when it purchased it in 1876. The church has national significance as the place where in 1913 the hymn the Old Rugged Cross was sung in its entirety for the first time. A year later, however, the church was sold to a farmer who returned it to use as a barn. It housed livestock and was used for storage for some eighty years.

In 1998 Robert and Molly Shafer purchased the building and formed the Old Rugged Cross Foundation, Inc. in order to rescue and restore the building, which had become home to wildlife. It was rotting from the bottom upward and even had trees growing in it. The Old Rugged Cross Foundation sought historic designation, applied for and received a federal Save America’s Treasures grant, and launched a community-wide effort to raise the funds necessary to rehabilitate the church. People responded from throughout the state, from 46 of 50 states, and from numerous countries throughout the world.

Throughout the project the foundation and the contractor were committed to accuracy and consulted with the State Historic Preservation Office. The church will eventually house a museum dedicated to the hymn, and the church is open to for special services such as weddings. The transformation is remarkable, and the significance of the preservation of the site reaches beyond Michigan’s borders.

The Detroit Land Bank Authority for demonstrating a true understanding the value of historic preservation in its NSP2 rehabilitations in Detroit historic districts
The Detroit Land Bank Authority has been an outstanding steward of historic properties in its ownership. Faced with rehabilitating residences in some of Detroit’s most visible historic districts, the authority consulted with the State Historic Preservation Office and chose to “do the right thing” and preserve the historic character of the houses it was rehabilitating.

The Detroit Land Bank Authority (DLBA) received funding through the federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP2) to work on a number of historic residential properties in Detroit. Under Section 106 of the Historic Preservation Act the State Historic Preservation Office worked with the DLBA on a number of these projects to ensure the integrity of the properties was maintained through historically-sensitive rehabilitation measures. Throughout the process it was clear the land bank really understood historic preservation and the power it has to stabilize neighborhoods and provide residents with housing that is high quality and energy efficient. According to Juanita Jones, director of the Detroit Land Bank Authority, the rehabilitation of one property, 2215 Longfellow Street, has inspired several surrounding neighbors and investors to begin repairing their properties. The actions of the Detroit Land Bank should serve as a model for other local housing organizations. Jones said, “We were inspired, and hope that our efforts will continue to inspire a renewed commitment to the city’s preservation and Detroit’s historic districts.”

Evans moves
Staley support

National Register Nominations
Site:  Iron Mountain Central Historic District, Iron Mountain, Dickinson County
Presented by:  Robert Christensen
Moved for Approval:  Evans
Seconded: Ligibel
Vote:  6-0,
Criteria:  A and C
Level of Significance: Local

Site:  Lake Michigan Beach House, Ludington State Park, Hamlin Township, Mason County
Presented by:  Robert Christensen
Moved for Approval:  Radcliff
Seconded:  Staley
Vote:  7-0
Criteria:  A and C
Level of Significance:  State

Site:  Wright Opera House Block Complex, Alma, Gratiot County
Presented by:  Jennifer Metz
Moved for Approval:  Ligibel
Seconded:  Radcliff
Vote:  6-0
Criteria:  A, B and C
Level of Significance:  Local

Site:  Emanuel and Elizabeth (Burkhardt) Rentschler Farmstead, Saline, Washtenaw County -
Presented by:  Bob Christensen ( in place of Cynthia Christensen who is ill)
Moved for Approval:  Staley
Seconded:  Ligibel
Vote:  6-0
Criteria:  A and C
Level of Significance:  Local

Site Norwegian Lutheran Church Complex, Long Rapids Township, Alpena County
Presented by:  Todd Walsh
Moved for Approval:  Evans
Seconded:  Radcliff
Vote:  6-0
Criteria:  A and C with considerations a and d
Level of Significance:  Local

Site:  Lower Trout Lake Bathhouse Complex and Contact Station, Bald Mountain Recreation Area,
Orion Township, Oakland County
Presented by:  Jessica Puff
Moved for Approval:  Radcliff
Seconded:  Staley
Vote:  6-0
Criteria:  C with consideration g
Level of Significance:  State

Historic District Study Committee Reports - Amy Arnold

National Twist Drill Local Historic District, Rochester Hills
The photographs included in the report are between four to ten years old.  Photos that show the district’s current condition should be included.

Page 10, paragraph one states “The landscaped grounds were an attraction for sightseers.” However there is no discussion of the landscape in the context or in the description. Are there any extant historic landscape features?

On page 11, the introductory paragraph to the “Significance of the District” section is somewhat misleading.  The rules SHPO adopted in 2002 state that communities “must apply” the National Register of Historic Places Criteria when establishing districts.  This makes the 1992 guide published by the MHPN, which states that communities “must be guided by” the criteria, obsolete.  This paragraph should clearly state that communities must follow the National Register criteria.

The Criterion B significance statement is the place to make the case as to why the McGregor’s were important to the community.  Their activities, some of which are noted earlier in the report, should be specifically indicated here rather than the generalized statement “among other activities.”

Under Criterion C, we consider the building’s style to be early International rather than Art Deco.

Congress School Local Historic District, Grand Rapids
Is this an individual resource district or a modification to the Fairmount Square Historic District?  The title indicates an individual district while the boundary justification indicates a modification.  If it is a boundary modification than there needs to be a stronger connection made to the Fairmount Square neighborhood. It is unclear from someone unfamiliar with Grand Rapids how the East End Improvement Association and Fairmount Square relate. Most likely expanding the information on page 10, paragraph 4 would help.  However, it does seem odd to jump a major thoroughfare to include the resource in the existing district. It might make more sense to designate it individually, but then the significance statement should be strengthened to make the case for individual eligibility. 

On page 5, paragraph 2, line 5 it should read “school buildings constructed in Grand Rapids between.”

Beth David Synagogue/New Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church Local Historic District, Detroit
Within the report, there is some confusion over the date of construction for the resource.  Under the History heading on page 2, it states the building was completed in 1927.  Page 4, paragraph 1 states the congregation moved into the building in August 1928. Under the Architecture heading on page 7, paragraph 2 states the building was completed in 1922.

Jarvis Stone School Local Historic District, Salem Township, Washtenaw County
The report An Honor and An Ornament: Public School Buildings in Michigan completed for the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office in September 2003 provides some context for the claims in the report that the architecture is rare:

“Frame construction accounted for the great majority as noted on an 1884 map and chart of Michigan’s one-room schoolhouses.  The chart , produced by Superintendent Herschell  Gass, showed 5,357 frame, 496 log, 962 brick, and 75 stone, for a total of 6,890 primary school buildings. (Gass 1884). . . .Stone construction was the most rare; in 1884, Oakland County had the highest number with 14 Stone Buildings. “ (p.71)

The study committee report should also note that there is another existing stone school in Washtenaw Co on Packard Road in Ann Arbor.

The list of resources on page 19 should clearly indicate which resources are contributing or non-contributing to the district.  On page 18, the report states that 3 maple trees and a crabapple tree are contributing features but they are not included in the resource list or on the site plan on page 7.  They should be.  The Merry-go Round looks like it might be pre-World World II.  The Library of Michigan has a periodical on its shelves entitled “The Playground” (with issues from 1907 to 1929) that includes advertising and photos that might help in dating the resource.  (Eastern Michigan University Library may also include publications of this type due to its history as a Normal College.)

The map on page 7 should meet the mapping requirements set forth in the SHPO publication Manual for Historical and Architectural Surveys in Michigan (available on line on the SHPO website at www.michigan.gov/shpo).  Aerial photographs are not acceptable.  The map title should also indicate this is a local historic district.   The copy is blurry and hard to read. Be sure the original is of a quality so that  when  it is copied, the copy is remain clear.

Appeals/Annual Resolution - Scott Grammer
Grammer introduced the new legal intern, Kelly Foster

Grammer requested the board to provide a resolution covering calendar year 2013 authorizing Harms as Board Chairperson to sign on behalf of the board Final Decision and Order documents and to authorize Grammer to dismiss administrative appeals.

Signature Authority Chair
Moved for Approval:  Ligibel
Seconded:  Radcliff
Vote:  6-0

Counsel Signature Authority
Moved for Approval:  Ligibel
Seconded:  Evans
Vote:  6-0

Eric A. Offerdahl v. City of Grand Rapids
Motion: Send Back
Moved for Approval:  Radcliff
Seconded:  Staley
Vote:  6-0

Dates of Next Meeting
May 3, 2013; September 13, 2013

Staley moved adjournment
Ligibel supported the motion
Vote 6-0
Meeting adjourned at 12:32pm

Prepared by Bethany Berdes