MHPN Announces 2009 Awards

Presentation Scheduled for Annual Conference
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DETROIT, May 12, 2009 – The Michigan Historic Preservation Network (MHPN) is pleased to announce our 2009 Historic Preservation Awards winners. Fifteen award winners from across Michigan were selected in five categories, including: Building, Citizen, Government/Institutional, Tax Credit, and Lifetime Achievement. This year, the award ceremony is one of the highlights of the Annual MHPN Conference, The Triple Bottom Line: Balancing Economic, Environmental, and Social Change. The award presentation will be held Friday evening, May 5, 2009, at San Chez Bistro, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Seven Building Awards are presented for projects completed within the last two years.  Winning projects may be a restoration or rehabilitation, and must include exterior work, but may also include interior work. This award seeks to recognize historic preservation projects of all sizes.

The first building award is presented to Armory Arts Village, for the adaptive reuse of the former Armory and old State Prison in Jackson. The Armory Arts Village transformed a large-scale historic former prison and National Guard armory site into a thriving arts-focused community. The Enterprise Group, a community development agency, transformed the historic prison site into artist live-work spaces. The Armory’s Drill Hall is now a multi-use entertainment space and gallery, the sally port is enclosed with skylights to create a sculpture gallery, and small galleries and studios provide display space.  Today, the Armory Arts residents are forming the creative community envisioned by the Enterprise Group and the City of Jackson, transforming a community liability into a cultural and economic development asset.

The second Building Award goes to The Harbor Springs Area Historical Society, for the restoration of the Harbor Springs History Museum.  The former county seat offices and Harbor Springs City Hall was leased to the Harbor Springs Historical Society in 2003. After an ambitious and successful capital campaign, supported enthusiastically by the community, the Historical Society embarked on its restoration campaign, restoring the 1880s exterior and adapting the interior for the Historical Society. With the dedication shown by the community of Harbor Springs through the years, how appropriate it is that a building with so much history within the community now serves as one of the keepers of the community’s history.

The third Building Award is presented to The Arenac Heritage Route Authority and the Michigan Department of Transportation, for the Standish Historical Depot Welcome Center rehabilitation. The Standish Depot, constructed in 1889, was the first in a wave of new stations constructed by the Michigan Central Railroad in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In the late 1990s, when the depot was threatened with demolition for a shopping center, a depot preservation committee was formed and fundraising began. In an unprecedented partnership, the Michigan Department of Transportation offered to serve as the applicant for enhancement grants in order to leverage additional financial support. The Depot today is one of only a few dedicated Heritage Route welcome centers in the state and provides crucial support to the tourism industry in northern Michigan.

The fourth Building Award is awarded to The Glazier Building rehabilitation. The Glazier building was Ann Arbor’s first high rise. Built in 1908 by Frank P. Glazier, the seven-story building is located at the center of downtown Ann Arbor on one of its most significant corners. In the 1960s this Ann Arbor landmark lost its most significant and visible feature, its seventh-floor cornice. The most stunning aspect of the project was the restoration of this original feature. In addition to the cornice reconstruction, the exterior of the Glazier building was restored, a new entry canopy was installed over the Huron street entry and the Huron Street building lobby was rehabilitated to complement the historic character of the interior. The Glazier building rehabilitation has restored to Ann Arbor the historic character of one of its most significant and visible buildings.

The fifth Building Award goes to Grand Rapids Public Schools, for Harrison Park Elementary School. With so many of our historic schools being lost to a perceived need for so-called modern facilities, the rehabilitation and addition to the Harrison Park Elementary School serves as a model for creating a contemporary learning center while respecting the historic architecture of the original school. The heart of the new design is the integration of a two-story connecting lobby to bridge the gap between the original school and the new addition. Classrooms and circulation areas were enhanced for modern school needs while still respecting the historic character. The rehabilitation and addition preserved a local community school that was highly valued by its staff and students. The respect they paid to the building helped create a respectful atmosphere for education as well.

The sixth Building Award is presented to Keweenaw National Historical Park, for the Calumet and Hecla Mining Company Administration Building. Built in stages from 1887 to 1909, the Calumet and Hecla Administration building was built of uncoursed masonry rubble from a local stone known as “poor rock”.  After a 1978 renovation and a twenty-year stint as a medical office, the building was purchased by the National Park Service in 2000 to serve as the park’s headquarters. The task of the restoration was to provide upgraded spaces and mechanical systems while restoring the historic character of the building. The restoration of the Calumet and Hecla Administration building as the headquarters of Keweenaw National Historical Park has returned one of Calumet’s most historic buildings to its turn of the century splendor and to its long-ago prominence within the community.

The final Building Award is presented to the Inner City Christian Foundation, for the ICCF/ D. A. Blodgett building. Originally constructed in 1908 as the D. A. Blodgett Home for Children, the building was later adapted for rehabilitative medicine, but by the 1990s had been abandoned and slated for demolition. In 2005, the Inner City Christian Federation, a non-profit housing corporation, acquired the building to be used as headquarters. Guided by a desire to qualify for both historic preservation tax credits and for LEED Gold certification, special care was taken throughout the restoration to retain the integrity of the remaining fabric. The privately funded restoration earned a LEED Gold certification and resulted in $14 million in total economic impact to the area.  The building is once again a stunning landmark on the Grand Rapids Skyline.

TheCitizen Award is reserved for an outstanding individual or individuals, who through personal effort and/or involvement in historic preservation projects have made a significant contribution to the preservation of Michigan’s heritage.

The first Citizen Award is presented to Jon Carlson and Greg Lobdell of Ann Arbor, for their protection of the Bowers Harbor Inn and surrounding property in Traverse City. Jon Carlson and Greg Lobdell redevelop historic properties and have a passion for rehabilitating underutilized real estate with the intent of creating vibrant mixed-use properties. They have demonstrated this commitment in the protection of the Bowers Harbor Inn, located on 11 acres of the Old Mission Peninsula in Grand Traverse County. Jon and Greg entered a unique partnership with the Michigan Historic Preservation Network and the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy to preserve the historic Inn and surrounding acres forever through the donation of a conservation easement that protects the historic, scenic, and shoreline characteristics of the property. The protection provided by the conservation easement has spurred dozens of projects by the Conservancy and the local community that enhances the scenic and historic elements of the area’s landscape.

The second Citizen Award is presented to Nicholas Bozen of Lansing for his legal assistance for preservation activities in the State of Michigan. For three decades, Nicholas Bozen has been a preservation advocate and legal compass as Michigan’s attorney for the State Historic Preservation Office. Nick’s strong guidance helped guide crucial preservation-related legislation through the government, including updates to the Local Historic Districts Act, (Michigan PA 169) in 1992 and 2008 and passage of the all-important state historic preservation tax credit in 1999 and the expansion of the credit in 2008.  The Citizen Award recognizes Nick’s years of quiet, methodical, behind the scenes diligence that protects the very underpinnings of historic preservation in Michigan.

The Government/Institutional Award is presented to an agency, city, or institution who, by their actions, has accomplished significant positive changes in the historic preservation climate and activity in the State of Michigan. The 2009 award is presented to Eastern Michigan University for the preservation of EMU’s core historic campus. Over the last twenty years, Eastern Michigan University has restored a number of its core historic campus buildings. Campus preservation is highlighted through annual preservation programs and tours, and the University offers degrees in historic preservation. Eastern Michigan University has worked diligently to ensure the history contained within many of its revered halls is as rich and diverse as the students who pass through them.

The Tax Credit Award is presented to an outstanding project completed in the last three years. This year’s first Tax Credit Award is presented to Think Tank LLC for the rehabilitation of the New York Life Insurance Company building. Constructed in 1965, the New York Life Insurance Company Building was designed by local architect, James Bronkema, who became known for his modern designs in Grand Rapids. By 2008, the building’s condition was forlorn, and the rehabilitation had a number of challenges related to its mid-century design. The original steel windows were retained and repaired, and the interior was rehabilitated to respect the character-defining features while giving the interior a contemporary feeling. The New York Life Insurance building is a wonderful example of a modestly scaled project featuring the rehabilitation and reuse of a locally designed mid-century modern building.

The second Tax Credit Award is presented to the Pere Marquette Depot in Bay City, Michigan. Built in 1904, the two-story Pere Marquette Depot is Bay City’s only remaining historic train depot and its Prairie Style architecture. When train service was discontinued in the 1950s, the depot was converted into a Greyhound bus passenger terminal and much of its historic fabric was compromised. Abandoned in 1969 it remained vacant for thirty-five years. The successful rehabilitation of the Depot was finally accomplished by the Great Lakes Center Foundation in 2008. The Pere Marquette Depot now houses the offices of the Bay Area Community Foundation and the Bay Area Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. In both appearance and function, it is once again at the heart of its community.

The final Tax Credit award is presented to the Christman Company for the rehabilitation of their new headquarters, the Christman/Mutual Building.  This 1928 former headquarters of the Michigan Millers Mutual Fire Insurance Company blended Art Deco exteriors with Arts and Crafts interiors. Adding a Class A modern office interior to a significant historic structure in a way that worked both aesthetically and functionally provided a key challenge. In addition to meeting the basic goals of quality, affordability, and value, the project added the more challenging goals of achieving LEED certification and qualifying for historic preservation tax credits. The rehabilitation of the Mutual Building was a landmark event for the Christman Company and the City of Lansing. The building received the world’s first and only double LEED “platinum” certification. By keeping several key businesses in the downtown, it has made a substantial contribution to the revitalization of downtown Lansing.

The winners of the final award category, the Lifetime Achievement Award, are selected by consensus of the Network’s senior leadership. The award recipients have worked throughout their lifetime to promote historic preservation. In 2009, two recipients have been selected to receive the MHPN Lifetime Achievement Award.

The first award winner is Balthazar Korab. For more than 50 years, Balthazar Korab has been recognized throughout the world as a photographer of architecture, art, and landscape. Balthazar’s photographic documentation of the architecture of Michigan and his tireless support of its recognition and preservation make it particularly appropriate for him to receive this award. Born in Hungary, Balthazar came to the US in 1955, where he was hired by Eero Saarinen as a designer in his Bloomfield Hill’s office at Cranbrook and began his lifelong work with photography as a design tool. Over the years, Balthazar has worked with some of the world’s most important architects and his photographic work has been featured in dozens of exhibits, public, and private collections.

The second MHPN Lifetime Achievement award is presented to Jack Hoffman and Rebecca Smith-Hoffman. Jack and Rebecca have been involved in Historic Preservation in Michigan since the 1970s. Pulled in first to fight historic buildings being torn down for parking lots and zoning issues in Heritage Hill, Rebecca has become a fixture in the preservation scene in West Michigan as both a consultant and activist. Jack followed her interest soon after by helping on the legal side of Historic Preservation and in his own fights for the North Park Bridge and brick streets in Grand Rapids. Over the last thirty-plus years Rebecca has become the unofficial “point-person” for Historic Preservation in Grand Rapids and Jack has forged a specialty in Preservation Law.

The Michigan Historic Preservation Network is a non-profit organization that advocates for Michigan’s historic places to contribute to the state’s economic vitality, sense of place, and connection to its past. For more information visit www.mhpn.org.

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