City and citizens of St. Joseph recognized for saving St. Joseph Pier Lights

2016 Governor’s Awards for Historic Preservation Announced

Misty Miller

MSHDA Communications

March 15, 2016

ST. JOSEPH, Mich. – The city and citizens of St. Joseph are getting some well-deserved credit for their efforts to save the St. Joseph Pier Lights.

Gov. Rick Snyder and Michigan State Housing Development Authority Executive Director Kevin Elsenheimer today 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.”

North Pier Inner and Outer Lights are beloved attractions on St. Joseph’s shore. The city acquired the lights from the U.S. Coast Guard after they were decommissioned in 2005.

“In Michigan, we value and learn from our history as much as we hope and believe in our future,” said State Sen. John Proos (R-St. Joseph). “This award is recognition of the many Southwest Michigan citizens that devote their time and energy to preserving our local heritage.”

Citizens and volunteers rallied to raise money – more than $1.8 million – to rehabilitate the structures. According to MSHDA’s State Historic Preservation Office, the project is a model historic rehabilitation.

"Hundreds of area residents came together to preserve this iconic structure. This award is a testament to the partnerships that were created to make it all happen," said State Rep. Al Pscholka (R-Stevensville). 

SHPO initiated the award program 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:

  • Mackinac Island State Park Commission for the ongoing archaeological investigation of Fort Michilimackinac

  • 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, Mount Pleasant

  • 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

  • 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

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 go to, click on Special Projects and Governor’s Awards.

The Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) provides financial and technical assistance through public and private partnerships to create and preserve decent, affordable housing for low- and moderate-income residents and to engage in community economic development activities to revitalize urban and rural communities.*

*MSHDA's loans and operating expenses are financed through the sale of tax-exempt and taxable bonds as well as notes to private investors, not from state tax revenues. Proceeds are loaned at below-market interest rates to developers of rental housing, and help fund mortgages and home improvement loans. MSHDA also administers several federal housing programs. For more information, visit