Three Oakland Co. Locations Win National Register Honors – The Oakland Press

Three sites in Oakland County are among the last 14 sites in Michigan to appear on the National Register of Historic Places. Listing is significant enough for the Michigan Economic Development Corporation to announce the honors, although the program is managed by the State Historic Preservation Office.

Adding to the list are two private residences, the 1925 Tudor Revival Walbri Hall in Bloomfield Hills, built by industrialist Walter Briggs, then owner of the Detroit Tigers; the Federal-style Elijah Bull House in Bloomfield Township, built circa 1830; as well as the Elmer R. Webster school, in the Pontiac, being renovated by the non-profit organization Micah6 to make it a community centre.

According to Martha MacFarlane-Faes, Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer, listing on a state or federal historic register goes beyond pride of association and celebration of community.

“Practically, a national historic designation requires the commitment of people willing to document the history of a property or neighborhood and commit to preserving it,” she said.

Listing on the National Register also opens the doors to historic preservation tax credits. The state has a similar program. The difference between the two is that no federal dollars are given for the preservation of a private family residence, but the state historic tax credit can be used for such work, she said. .

“It takes money to rehabilitate properties,” she said. Tax credits can fill an invaluable funding gap for a nonprofit like Micah6.

While one of the most frequently asked questions is how to preserve a historic property, she said, one of the most misunderstood questions is what you can or can’t do to a building a time it is listed on a federal or state historical record.

“A National Register designation does not authorize any interdiction on any property or district,” she said. “Generally, people who get this designation can do whatever they want (regarding renovations) because legally there would be no consequences.”

But: Those who get federal tax credits must follow guidelines published and maintained by the Secretary of the Interior to meet historic property guidelines.

Another way to limit changes to a building or site, she said, is if there is a local historic ordinance, which is a type of zoning. In Michigan communities with historic preservation ordinances, a commission reviews designs and site plans to protect an area of ​​historic buildings, whether commercial or residential.

“We have several of these communities across the state. There are also historic preservation easements to protect historic property. It becomes part of the protection act in perpetuity,” she said.

Historic preservation is a way to preserve a sense of place while showing appreciation for a community’s past that will help future generations, she said.

Preservation can also be a driver of economic development, she said, leading to heritage tourism, whether it’s an afternoon spent viewing a historic home or taking a vacation to a place like Mackinac Island to absorb its meaning beyond a stroll on a long hotel porch and all the fudge you can eat.

“The National Registry records tell stories about this property — the community, the region, the state, and the things that happened there,” she said. “These are not just the finest homes of lumber barons and other business magnates. They can be very, very humble abodes of people who have contributed very significantly to society.

Walbri Hall in Bloomfield Hills is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. (Courtesy of the State Historic Preservation Office)

One such site in Michigan, she said, is a small house in Inkster where civil rights activist Malcolm X lived in his youth. He was assassinated in 1965.

She said it’s important for people to consider identifying resources and working on nominations to national or state historical records, “so that we have some sort of permanent record about them.”

The current national registry includes more than 96,000 properties, including 2,000 in Michigan. . The National Registry is a National Park Service program administered on a state-by-state basis.

Elijah Bull House
Elijah Bull House in Bloomfield Township is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. (Courtesy of the State Historic Preservation Office)

To be listed on the National Register, most properties must be at least 50 years old and be significant in the text of major historical events or in the historical trends of a nation, state or community, as well as what is called “historical integrity”, which means that they convey a significant history.

To learn about historic preservation and celebrate the county’s history, people attend the 53rd Annual Oakland County Summer Ice Cream Party, from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, July 30 and Sunday, July 31 , at the Oakland History Center in Pine Grove, 405 Cesar Avenue Chavez in Pontiac. Details are online at

The following Michigan properties were listed on the National Registry in the first half of 2022:

Oakland County:

Walbri Hall, Bloomfield Hills

Elijah Bull House, Bloomfield Township

Elmer R. Webster School, Pontiac

Wayne County

Luther Burbank Elementary School, Detroit

Most Venerable Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Michigan, Detroit

Kent County

Motherhouse Complex of the Sisters of the Order of Saint Dominic, Grand Rapids

Dickinson County

Iron Mountain Veterans Administration Hospital (VA), Iron Mountain

Kalamazoo County

Parkwyn Village, Kalamazoo

Gibson Inc. Factory and Office Building, Kalamazoo

Vicksburg Historic District, Vicksburg

County of Leelanau

Fishtown Historic District, Leland Township

Barry County

Michigan Central Railroad Middleville Depot, Middleville

Washtenaw County

Nathan Esek and Sarah Emergene Sutton House, Northfield Township

Chippewa County

Garfield School, Sault Ste. Married

Webster School
The former Elmer R Webster School, intended as a community center, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. (Peg McNichol/MediaNews Group)