Indian Village, one of Detroit’s oldest residential neighborhoods, has launched a fundraising campaign to raise $180,000 to restore the historic lighting infrastructure that spans its seven blocks between Jefferson and Mack.
“One of the many reasons why people move to and live in this neighborhood is to maintain the way it looked when it was first developed (in the early 20th century),” says Peter McGreevy, director and treasurer of the Indian Village Association, which created the fundraiser. “We have a very rich and storied past, and we want to preserve that element. We feel that restoring our light poles is more authentic to the neighborhood and to the city than installing something new and modern.”
If the association succeeds in raising the funds by a Nov. 30 deadline, residents will work with city officials and the Public Lighting Authority to restore and reclaim its circa 1910 streetlight poles. The restoration effort would keep the basic hardware of each pole, while reinstalling and modernizing the infrastructure with 21st-century electrical components and LED lights, McGreevy says
McGreevy also says historic authenticity is important to the nearly 350 homes that draw more than 30,000 visitors that stop by the village each year, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.
Of the 50 or so poles currently existing in the historic neighborhood, some work, others don’t, McGreevy says. “The Public Lighting Department (has) been doing a lot of things to keep them maintained and to keep them on, but their functioning is a little more sporadic.”
If the funds aren’t raised in time, McGreevy says the association will need to work with the Historic District Commission to determine other alternatives that would be considered historically appropriate by the relevant authorities.
“We’re hoping that’s not the case,” McGreevy says. “If this works, this will be a great example of how governments and neighborhood associations and residents of the city of Detroit can all work together to pull off preserving a piece of our past and preserving our history.”
The association has raised $15,000 in pre-pledges and contributions can be made to the Indian Village Historic Collections via PayPal, or checks made payable to the “IVHC Lighting Fund” can be sent to P.O. Box 14244, Detroit, MI 48214.