Historic District Survey Project

In 2018, the City of Northville embarked on an intensive-level survey to uncover new information about the historical features and architectural attributes of up to 343 houses and other buildings in the City of Northville’s Historic District, which encompasses some 144 acres. It’s the first study of its kind in 45 years, when a partial survey of 61 historic structures in the district was conducted.

Funding for the survey was through a grant from the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO).


Contributing/Non-Contributing Resource Explanation
Click here for an explanation of the definition of Contributing and Non-Contributing Resource






Project Materials, Notices, Approved Minutes
Project Timeline
Grant Timeline
June 2017 - City awarded Federal Grant to conduct intensive-level Historic District survey

Aug 9, 2017 - City issues Request for Proposals (RFP) seeking consultants to conduct survey

Sept 5, 2017 - RFP submission deadline

Oct 2, 2017 - City Council awards project to Commonwealth Heritage Group

Nov-Dec 2017 - SHPO review period of consultant contract

Jan 3, 2018 - City Council appoints Local Historic District Study Committee (LHDSC)

Mar 1, 2018 - LHDSC Public Kick-off Meeting (7pm at City Hall)

June 2018 - Consultant and LHDSC public meeting to discuss first draft of report

July 2018 - LHDSC meets to review final draft and approve for transmittal to SHPO

Sept 17, 2018 - Status Report and Project Update to City Council

Sept 25, 2018 – LHDSC holds Public Hearing for LHDSR - Grant completed

Additional meetings
November 8, 2018 - second public hearing

May 2, 2019 - public meeting

June 6, 2019  - Final Public Hearing at 7pm   
Project Questions and Answers
Questions About the Survey

During the survey process, if you have questions about the survey, please email Historicsurvey@ci.northville.mi.us. Questions will be collected and answers posted on this page on a periodic basis.

Question Received 11/8/18:

Q: What is the definition of Contributing and Non-Contributing Resource?

A:  Definition Response

Questions Received 8/29/18:


Q: What is specifically on the agenda for the Sept 25th meeting?

A: The Local Historic District Study Committee is holding the September 25th meeting (Public Hearing) to gather public comments on the final draft of the Historic District Study Report.


Q: How will the report impact the properties labeled as “Contributing?" 

A: The Report will be used by the Historic District Commission to assist them in evaluating requests from property owners who want to change the exterior of a building in the Historic District. The information in the Report was gathered and developed by professional architectural historians, and provides a professional opinion and guidance as to the historic significance of each building in the Historic District. The Report does not change the current process or authority of the Historic District Commission, which has been in place since the early 1970s when the Historic District was established.


Q: What is the impact to “Contributing” properties moving forward if the Council approves the Survey Report as Final?

A: A “contributing” property or contributing resource is any building, object, or structure which demonstrates historic integrity and adds to the historical or architectural character that makes up a particular historic district. The Historic District Study Report is basis of the establishment of a historic district and guides the Historic District Commission, along with items such as the Secretary of the Interior Standards for Rehabilitation, in its decisions regarding proposed changes to a resource (property, building, structure, site, or object) in the District.


Q: What specific restrictions will be placed on my property if the City Council approves the Survey Report, including modifications or redevelopment?

A: The only change that will result with the adoption of the Historic District Study Report is the revision of the district boundaries to remove some vacant or newly-developed properties at the edge of the District. The new report will not affect the existing Historic Districts Ordinance or other rules and standards currently used by the Historic District Commission. This ordinance and current rules have been in place for many years. Therefore, all properties within the boundaries of the Historic District will continue to be subject to the current rules regarding modifications or redevelopment.


Q: Who do I contact regarding opposing the recommendation of the Survey Report for my property?

A: Comments on the Study Report may be provided to the Local Historic District Study Committee at their September 25, 2018 public hearing. If you can’t attend the meeting, you may also submit comments in writing before the meeting. Written comments may be mailed or dropped off at the Building Department, City of Northville Municipal Building, 215 West Main Street, Northville, Michigan, 48167.

Question received 3/5/18

Q: Will the Historic District Survey information be used by the City Assessor and affect their property assessment in any way?

A: Per the Assessor, assessing records will be accessible and used by the Historic District Survey project surveyors, and their data will be shared with the Assessing Department. Any information received from the surveyors that appears to be omitted from the Assessing Department’s records will be reviewed and the records updated to correct any discrepancies. This will mean additions and/or losses in the assessed value may occur by use of, and reviewing the information shared.











Project Updates

June 18, 2019
The Northville Local Historic District Study Committee held a public hearing on the evening of June 6, 2019.  Click here to view the draft meeting minutes.  

May 6, 2019
The Northville Local Historic District Study Committee held a meeting on the evening of May 2, 2019 to continue discussing the Draft Local Historic District Study Report.  The purpose of this meeting was to discuss comments received since its last meeting in November 2018, and to receive additional public comments on the draft Study Report.  Approximately 20 people attended, and several people addressed the Study Committee.  

After receiving and discussing the public comment, the Study Committee voted to make additional changes to the Report.  They also voted to: 

  1. Set a final deadline of May 17, 2019 for the public to supply comments and new information to be included in the Report.
  2. Set the final Public Hearing date for June 6, 2019. 

Commonwealth Heritage Group will make the changes requested by the Study Committee, and draft the Final Study Report for consideration at the June Public Hearing.  This document will be posted in the Project Materials section of this webpage.  A hard copy will also be available for review at the Building Department.  

Once the Study Committee holds its final Public Hearing on June 6, they may, at that meeting, make further changes to the Study Report.  They also may forward the Report to City Council with recommendations.  If this is done, Council will review the Report at a future meeting(s), and is the final authority on the Report's contents and adoption.

Written comments to the Study Committee may be submitted to the City Clerk, City of Northville, 215 W. Main Street, Northville, Michigan, 48167, or emailed to historicsurvey@ci.northville.mi.us.  All written comments must be received by 3pm on June 6 for distribution to the Study Committee.  Written comments may also be presented in person to the Study Committee during the public hearing. 

Public hearing notices will be mailed to all property owners and occupants in the Historic District by May 16, 2019. 

April 4, 2019
The Study Committee will meet on May 2, 2019 at 7pm at City Hall.  At this meeting, the Study Committee will continue its discussion of the Study Report, review public comments received since its last meeting (11/8/18), provide the opportunity for the public to bring their thoughts and concerns regarding the Study to the Study Committee, set a final deadline of May 17, 2019 for the public to supply new information to be included in the Study Report, and set a final public hearing date of June 6, 2019.  


The May 2 meeting notice will be posted and mailed to all Historic Distarict real property owners and occupants by April 18, 2019.



March 6, 2019

Residents are being given more time to supply the Architectural Historian with additional information about their properties.  If deemed appropriate by the consultant, the information will be added to the Survey Report.  The updated draft survey report will be added to the Project Materials section for public review. 

In addition, the Study Committee plans to hold another public hearing.   Once the date is determined, the public hearing notice will be published in the Northville Record and posted on this webpage. Public hearing notices will also be mailed to the Historic District real property owners and residents.


Nov 14, 2018
The Local Historic District Study Committee held a second public hearing on Nov 8 to receive public comment on the Historic District Survey Study Report as updated Sept 28, 2018. Approximately 20 people attended and several addressed the Study Committee. Written comments submitted to the Building Department were also reviewed. 

The Study Committee voted to make additional changes to the Report. Commonwealth Heritage Group will make the requested changes, and the revised draft “final” document will be posted in the Project Materials section of this website. A hard copy will also be available for review at the Building Department.

The Study Committee also moved to schedule another public hearing. Once the date is determined, the public hearing notice will be published in the Northville Record and posted on this webpage. Public hearing notices will also be mailed to the Historic District real property owners and residents.

Written comments to the Study Committee may be submitted to City Clerk, City of Northville, 215 W. Main Street, Northville, Michigan, 48167, or to historicsurvey@ci.northville.mi.us. All written comments must be received by 3pm the day of the public hearing for distribution to the Study Committee. Written comments may also be presented in person to the Study Committee during the public hearing.


Sept 27, 2018
The Local Historic District Study Committee held a public hearing on September 25 to receive public comment on the Historic District Survey Study Report. Approximately 40 people attended and several people addressed the Study Committee. Written comments submitted to the Building Department were also reviewed. 

After receiving and discussing the public comment, the Study Committee voted to make changes to the Report. Commonwealth Heritage Group will make the changes requested by the Study Committee, and the draft “final” document will be posted in the Project Materials section of this webpage. A hard copy will also be available for review at the Building Department.

To review the “final” document, the Study Committee also moved to schedule another public hearing. A public hearing date will be determined, and the public hearing notice will be published and posted on this webpage. Public hearing notices will be mailed to Historic District real property owners and residents.

Written comments to the Study Committee may be submitted to City Clerk, City of Northville, 215 W. Main Street, Northville, Michigan, 48167, or emailed to historicsurvey@ci.northville.mi.us. All written comments must be received by 3pm the day of the public hearing for distribution to the Study Committee. Written comments may also be presented in person to the Study Committee during the public hearing.

 
Sept 17, 2018
Commonwealth Heritage gave a brief presentation to City Council, summarizing the project work that has been completed, and the completion and adoption process for each document created by the survey.  The produces created by Commonwealth include: 1) Intensive Level Survey Report, 2) Local Historic District Study Report, and 3) National Register Nomination.  View the presentation here.

The Study Committee will hold a public hearing on September 25, 2018 at 7pm at City Hall.  The purpose of the public hearing is to receive public comment on the 2018 Local Historic District Study Report. 


July 25, 2018
Commonwealth Heritage Group completed the final draft of the Local Historic District Study Report for the Northville Historic District. The document is available in the Historic Survey Study Project Materials box at the top of this page. A hard copy is also available for review at the Building Department.


July 11, 2018
Commonwealth Heritage Group completed the second draft of the Local Historic District Study Report for the Northville Historic District, incorporating comments from the State Historic Preservation Office and the Local Historic District Study Committee (LHDSC). The document is available in the Historic Survey Study Project Materials box at the top of this webpage. A hard copy is also available for review at the Building Department. 

The LHDSC will meet at 7pm on July 19 at City Hall to review the draft report. Public comment on the draft report may be submitted to Historicsurvey@ci.northville.mi.us.Commonwealth Heritage Group completed the second draft of the Local Historic District Study Report for the Northville Historic District, incorporating comments from the State Historic Preservation Office and the Local Historic District Study Committee (LHDSC). The document is available in the Historic Survey Study Project Materials box at the top of this webpage. A hard copy is also available for review at the Building Department.

The LHDSC will meet at 7pm on July 19 at City Hall to review the draft report. Public comment on the draft report may be submitted to Historicsurvey@ci.northville.mi.us.

Public comment on the draft report may be submitted to historicsurvey@ci.northville.mi.us.

The final draft of the Local Historic District Study Report was also submitted to the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office.

The Local Historic District Study Committee will conduct a public hearing at 7pm on September 25, 2018 at City Hall. The public is invited to attend.

May 15, 2018
The photography field work is complete. The Historic Survey Team will still be in the field to take GPS points for every property. This will likely happen in the next few weeks. It is anticipated the Local Historic District Study Committee will meet the week of June 18. A meeting notice will be posted on this page when the meeting date is set.

March 19, 2018
Last week, the Historic Survey Team began photographing the properties in the Historic District. This part of the project should continue through this week. The project consultants have also begun their background research, which includes gathering materials on the individual properties. On March 1, the public kickoff meeting was held. A copy of the presentation and the meeting video may be found at the top of this webpage.

Feb 22, 2018
Provided the area remains “snow free,” the Historic District Survey team plans to begin its survey of the properties in the Northville Historic District during the week of March 5th.

The survey team of 1-2 historians will be identified with a City-issued ID Badge, and will be wearing yellow vests for safety. They will be carrying a camera, and may also have a clipboard and Global Positioning System (GPS) unit. Please keep checking back for updates.

Jan 31, 2018
The Historic District Survey team will begin visiting properties in the Northville Historic District when there is no longer snow on the ground. Because each property needs to be photographed from the street/public sidewalk, standards for the Historic District Study Report require the ground be visible, so a clear understanding of the building/structure/site/objects/setting can be gained.

It’s estimated that once the snow is gone, the actual field work will take approximately 5-10 days to survey all the properties in the District. The survey team of 1-2 historians will be identified with a City-issued ID Badge, and will be wearing yellow vests for safety. They will be carrying a camera, and may also have a clipboard and Global Positioning System (GPS) unit. The actual dates of the field work will be posted to this webpage once they are known. Please keep checking back for updates.


Why was a survey needed?

It uncovered new historical data, which will provide a basis for local planning. Results will be used to complete a new National Register of Historic Places nomination to update the data in the federal register. The results of the survey are a permanent record for the City, state and federal government, and are accessible to the public in a digital format on the City’s website. Reports and digital information will also be provided to the Northville Historical Society for their records at Mill Race Village, and the Northville District Library.

Historic Home on Dunlap StreetA historic survey was last done in 1972, when the tools and techniques used to survey historic districts were rudimentary, compared to today’s detailed and defined reports. As a result, there are gaps in:

  • Completeness – Only 61 of 343 existing properties in the district have been studied to any extent.
  • Historical significance – The era of each property has not been sufficiently recorded. 
  • Missing link – The Historic District encompasses both commercial and residential properties. The 1972 survey didn’t include any commercial, industrial or institutional buildings, which also have historic significance. This study will include those buildings. Individually and collectively, the study will help define the historic distinctions of neighborhoods and the commercial district. 
  • The Historic District doesn’t know what it doesn’t know – When changes are proposed to unstudied resources, recommendations concerning the property may be skewed due to unknown facts. Knowing what historic elements constitute the property and their historical significance are important metrics. 
  • Local Historic District Study Committee Report – A new Local Historic District Study Committee Report will be created. This document will illustrate, in an easy-to-use format, relevant information about various historic properties in the district. Further, it will describe the district and explain why it is significant and unique. 
  • Improve preservation of Northville’s historic resources - Having historic information about principal and accessory buildings – whether residential, commercial, institutional or industrial - will help educate the property owner and the community of the relevance of these features, and guide decision-making about how to preserve or modify the structure.

How was the survey conducted, what was reported?

The project was conducted by architectural historians from Commonwealth Heritage Group, out of their Dexter, Michigan office. Properties that are less than 40 years old were identified, and their date of construction noted. Properties that are more than 40 years old were researched as described below in the “Level of Research” section.

The types of properties included in the survey were houses and grounds, public buildings (schools and churches), commercial buildings (downtown), parks, factories/mill complexes, and utility structures.

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Level of Research
Historic Home on N. Wing Street; Home to Angela Carson Photography

The intensive-level survey methodologies followed the procedures in SHPO’s Manual for Historical and Architectural Surveys in Michigan, and included field work, research, evaluation and preparing the report.

The architectural historian conducted field surveys on all properties. Property records will be kept in a database. Each property was photographed per the standards for electronic images. The surveyed properties were mapped in a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) program, and a survey form (Appendix C of the SHPO Survey Manual) was completed for each historic property provided.

No research beyond the date of construction was conducted for any properties less than 40 years old unless significant history was easily identified for the property. For properties more than 40 years old, the research started with the existing information provided in the original survey, and was upgraded to intensive level for all buildings and features. Research included use of early maps, directories, tax assessor records, and the collection available at Mill Race Village, Northville’s Historic Park and information repository.

Each surveyed property was evaluated for historic significance, based on the National Register of Historic Places Criteria for Evaluation. This determined which resources are historic (contribute) to the district.

The survey report was drafted, providing a summary of the project, recommendations resulting from the survey, a narrative description of the survey area, and historical significance statement for the district that includes identified historic contexts. A map of the district showing contributing and non-contributing resources was produced. The completed survey forms were included in the survey report. An Excel spreadsheet of the properties surveyed by street address and number, that includes the date of construction, architectural style, and eligibility determination, was included as an appendix in the report. The survey report was reviewed and approved by the State Historic Preservation Office.



Selection of an Architectural Historian

City Council awarded the project to Commonwealth Heritage Group. Their architectural historians have specialized training in identifying and researching historic structures, and preparing the survey reports per the federal guidelines.


128 E. Main StreetLocal Historic District Study Committee

As part of this project, and in keeping with the state enabling legislation, City Council appointed a local historic district study committee, comprised of various members of the community including a member of the Historic District Commission, Northville Historical Society, architects, representatives of community organizations, residents and property owners in the Historic District, and residents at large. The study committee worked with the architectural historian during the study and preparation of the reports.

Study Committee Members:
Historic District Commission: James Allen, David Field
Northville Historical Society: Leanie Bayly, Mark Chester
Architect: Robert Miller
Downtown Property Owner: Suzanne Cozart
Resident at Large: Jeff Russell



Public Input
405 W. Main Street - Old Village School
 
The project included several public information meetings to keep residents informed and involved in the survey. The first was an informational meeting before the survey begins; the second presented a preliminary draft of the survey report and asked for feedback. Based on this input, the survey report was revised and presented as a final document during a third meeting, which was a public hearing.  The Study Committee continues to review and revise the report and will hold another public hearing in 2019 before voting on it.  The next public hearing date will be posted on this page.

Publicity

The City created this web page to inform residents and property owners about the scope of the survey, and provide status  updates. The City also publicized the survey through:
  • City News, online weekly newsletter
  • Northville Matters, quarterly print publication, which is mailed to all residents
  • Media relations – The City will send out timely press releases to educate the media, and ultimately the public, about the study, needed feedback, and report results.

Earlier in 2018, property owners received a letter explaining the survey and field study, and were invited to a kickoff meeting.  As public hearings are scheduled, property owners are mailed a public hearing notice.


Questions About the Survey or Survey Report

If you have questions about the survey or survey report, please email Historicsurvey@ci.northville.mi.us. Answers to questions are posted on this page on a periodic basis.