Fellowship will develop historic landscape plan

By: Linda Shepard | Rochester Post | Published July 2, 2014

OAKLAND TOWNSHIP — A master plan for the Cranberry Lake Farm Historic District will be developed soon, thanks to a partnership between the township and Eastern Michigan University.

The township and the EMU Historic Preservation Program will sponsor the fellowship, splitting a graduate student’s tuition for development of a master historic landscape and site plan.

“This is a win-win opportunity,” said Barbara Barber, township historic preservationist, in a statement. “It’s a great opportunity for the student to learn first-hand about historic preservation planning in a local government office.” Barber is a 2012 graduate of the EMU program.

The 16-acre Cranberry Lake Farm Historic District, listed in the National Register of Historic Places, is adjacent to the 213-acre Cranberry Lake Park, off Predmore Road, west of Rochester Road. 

Oakland Township officials restored the district’s historic Axford Coffin farmhouse in 2011. The Greek revival-style house was built in 1840 and was occupied by the Axford, Taylor and Kline families, who farmed the land until 1908. Arts and crafts-style additions were added to the house in the early part of the 20th century.

Oil company executive Howard Aldridge Coffin’s family used the farmhouse as a summer home between 1939 and 1951. Coffin also served in the U.S. House of Representatives representing Wayne County. Several outbuildings and the restored Flumerfelt barn are also included in the historic district.

Additional fellowship duties will include working with township officials to tap into grant money, supporting the township’s historic preservation communications and contributing to an upcoming Oakland Township Historical Society 40th anniversary celebration.

The fellowship — possible through matching $2,500 tuition donations from Oakland Township and EMU — creates a hands-on planning position designed to prepare students for the real world, said Ted Ligibel, EMU Historic Preservation Program director.

“We’re looking at the bigger picture by adding more applied learning opportunities to the Historic Preservation Program,” Ligibel said in a statement. “We’re also developing better internships and fellowships, such as with Oakland Township.”

Eastern Michigan’s Historic Preservation Program is the largest, and one of the oldest, of its kind in the nation, Ligibel said. Additional Historic Preservation Program fellowships will raise awareness of the historic 1812 River Raisin Battlefield in Monroe and will study the design of two historic estates — the Henry Ford Estate in Dearborn and the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House in Grosse Pointe Shores.

“Eastern’s students are learning from doing,” Ligibel said. “This prepares them for a professional position.”