Lighthouses, storied Ludington district among winners of state's historic preservation awards

What’s happening: The 21st annual Governor’s Awards for Historic Preservation were bestowed upon four historic preservation projects throughout the state earlier this month, with Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist II awarding efforts in the Hiawatha National Forest region, Inkster, the Keweenaw Peninsula, and Ludington. The awards are hosted by the State Historic Preservation Office.

What won: Three of the four winning projects occurred in Michigan’s rural areas and communities, detailed below.

Efforts to earn a National Register Historic District designation for a stretch of East Ludington Avenue proved fruitful in 2023, providing new preservation tools and resources for homeowners in the Ludington district. The award was given to Ludington native Raymond Madsen, who led the campaign. The Queen Anne and Classical Revival mansions of East Ludington Avenue date back to the late 1800s, homes built and occupied by industry leaders and ship captains of the era.

The stewardship of several historic lighthouses within Hiawatha National Forest were also recognized with the award, a multi-faceted effort led by several different organizations. Those include restoration work of the Round Island Lighthouse, care of the Round Island Lighthouse Preservation Society; public interpretation programming at Grand Island North Light, led by the Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society, and rehabilitation of the Point Iroquois Light; and the planned Indigenous history museum at Point Iroquois in partnership with the Bay Mills Indian Community.

A digital online atlas of Michigan’s Copper Country, the Keweenaw Time Traveler project led by Michigan Technological University, also took home an award. Homes and schools built from 1870 to 1940 have been mapped and linked with oral histories, offering extensive histories of this influential part of Michigan’s past. The Keweenaw Time Traveler visits local festivals, schools, senior living facilities, and more, as well as offering an online version.

Also winning an award was the rehabilitation and archaeological documentation of the one-time home of Civil Rights leader Malcolm X, located in the Detroit suburb of Inkster.

Why it’s important: “Each May, SHPO has the distinct honor to help recognize the exemplary historic preservation work being done by groups and individuals across Michigan through the Governor’s Awards for Historic Preservation program,” says Ryan Schumaker, State Historic Preservation Officer. “The four projects receiving awards today demonstrate a deep commitment to highlighting and preserving sites that are important in telling a more complete history of all peoples who have called Michigan their home.”

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