Francis Metallic Surfboat, one of two of its kind, added to National Register of Historic Places
Michigan added four sites to the list, approved three for nomination
June 12, 2015
DOUGLAS, MICH. – The Francis Metallic Surfboat in Douglas has been added to the National Register of Historic Places according to State Historic Preservation Officer Brian Conway.
“Earning a listing in the National Register is truly an honor,” said Conway. “To be considered eligible, a property must be examined for age, integrity and significance.”
The Francis Metallic Surfboat is a 26-foot, iron-hulled vessel from approximately 1854. This type of boat was designed by Joseph Francis, known as the father of the U.S. lifesaving services, and built using an innovative metal fabricating technique he invented.
The vessel is one of two known surviving examples of the first type of coastal rescue craft used during the period 1849 to 1857. Utilized by a federally sponsored, unmanned life-saving/shipwreck rescue program, the surfboat is an example of a distinctly American type of rescue boat known as the “pulling” surfboat. This design is intended to be pulled through the water by oar power rather than propelled by sail or motor.
Owned by the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society (SDHS), the Francis Metallic Surfboat is on display in a dedicated building on SDHS property not far from the vessel’s original station near the mouth of the Kalamazoo River.
“The Francis Metallic Surfboat was one of the first of its kind to provide rescue missions during storms on the Great Lakes,” said Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, (R-Antwerp Township). “Including this relic in on the National Register of Historic Places helps recognize West Michigan’s proud maritime history and encourages tourism from around the state and country.”
The other three Michigan sites added to the list in this round of National approvals were the Francis Metallic Surfboat in Douglas, the Ezra E. and Florence (Holmes) Beardsley House in Bronson Township and the Otsego Hotel in Jackson.
Michigan has more than 1,600 listings in the National Register of Historic Places, including some 250 districts comprising more than 20,000 properties.
The State Historic Preservation Review Board also recently approved three new sites for National Register listing consideration. They are Blissfield Downtown Historic District in Blissfield, Swayze Apartments in Flint and Holy Family Orphanage in Marquette.
“Michigan has a rich collection of archaeological and historic sites,” said Kevin Elsenheimer, executive director of the Michigan State Housing Development Authority. “Listing in the National Register of Historic Places calls attention to these sites and alerts residents and visitors to the historical value of the communities.”
Historic sites are nominated to the national register by the State Historic Preservation Review Board, which considers nominations to the register three times per year. On behalf of the review board, the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) forwards nominations to the National Park Service in the U.S. Department of the Interior, which acts as keeper of the National Register, for listing.
The State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) is financed in part by a grant from the National Park Service, Department of Interior. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of the Interior. The Department of the Interior prohibits discrimination on its federally funded assistance programs. If you believe you've been discriminated against please contact the Office of Equal Opportunity, National Park Service, 1849 C. St. NW, Washington DC 20240.
The State Historic Preservation Office is part of the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA), which 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.
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 www.michigan.gov/mshda.