New grant to help Northfield Township preserve its historic places and rural charm

What’s happening: A years-long architectural survey of Washtenaw County’s Northfield Township received a financial boost from the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) recently, furthering local efforts to nominate architecturally and historically significant buildings to the National Register of Historic Places. The historic preservation campaign is one of five such projects to share in $200,000 from the federal Historic Preservation Fund—Certified Local Government program as administered by the SHPO and first announced Monday, Aug. 28.

What it is: The Northfield Township Architectural Survey first launched in 2019 following a “windshield survey” of historic places in 2016 and ‘17. The surveys resulted in three reports, identifying the township’s wealth of historic places throughout the largely rural area. Those reports, complete with details of those historic places, are available online here, here, and here.

Why it is: Despite its proximity to population centers like Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, Northfield Township and the communities therein have remained almost entirely rural since European settlers began divvying up the land here in the 1820s. Among the many centuries-old barns, farmhouses, and otherwise, examples of previously listed historic sites here include the Nathan Esek and Sarah Emergene Sutton House and the Nathan B. Devereaux Octagon House, both of which were built in 1864.

What’s next: This most recent grant will be used to hire a qualified preservation consultant, who will then identify and select up to four properties to nominate to the National Register of Historic Places. Success in doing so will grant local preservationists access to additional historic preservation incentives and support.

What they’re saying: “Washtenaw County looks forward to continuing [the] survey in Northfield Township alongside Northfield Township Historical Society,” says Melinda Schmidt, historic preservation specialist for Washtenaw County. “The historical society has been working diligently to document local agricultural and social history, and this project will contribute to their efforts.”

Who else: Other Michigan projects to share in the SHPO $200,000 grant include rehabilitation efforts at the Calumet Theatre and Village Hall, and the Chicago and West Michigan Railroad Charlevoix Station; monument restoration work at Muskegon’s Hackley Park; and a historic resource survey for the Ypsilanti Historic District.

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