Gary Roberts, chairman of the Franklin Historic District Commission, stands near the Franklin Village Offices. The offices are located in the former Broughton House, built in 1835 and standing as an example of  two-story frame Greek Revival architecture.

Gary Roberts, chairman of the Franklin Historic District Commission, stands near the Franklin Village Offices. The offices are located in the former Broughton House, built in 1835 and standing as an example of two-story frame Greek Revival architecture.

Photo by Donna Agusti


Preserving history, one building at a time

By: Linda Shepard | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published February 6, 2019

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FRANKLIN — The unique character and charm of Franklin depends upon the preservation of its historical buildings, according to village officials.

Franklin was first settled in 1824, and many of its downtown buildings date from that era. Currently, the Franklin Historic District provides a collection of buildings, streets, trees and landscape features that encompass the village’s historical core.

Last year, the Franklin Historic District Commission established a study committee to identify potential sites for an expanded historical district.

“It is very important to protect our assets,” Gary Roberts, chairman of the Franklin Historic District Commission, said during a Jan. 14 presentation to the Franklin Village Council. “We are seeing new demolition permits come through. We’d hate to see those properties demolished.”

Village Manager James Creech said the current Franklin Historic District is one of the oldest in the state. “It is basically the downtown area, up to the Village Hall,” Creech said.      

“What (the commission) is proposing to do is have a district unattached to that district, and they are proposing other properties that are eligible,” Creech said. “Some are houses, and some are something else, like a church.”

Roberts said the Historic District Commission study committee met five times in the past year and compiled a list of more than 40 potential properties for the noncontiguous district.

“We looked at over 100,” Roberts said. “It was hard — there are so many beautiful properties. We visited all of them and ranked them. They are all over town.”

According to the commission, a historical district is an area designated as having aesthetic, architectural, historical, cultural or archaeological significance worthy of protection and enhancement.

Properties located within such districts often increase in value, due in part to the availability of federal and state tax credits for rehabilitating historical buildings, commission members said.

Tax credits encourage property owners within historical districts to increase investment into their properties. The investment improves property maintenance, makes the area more attractive, and encourages people to visit or buy real estate.     

A meeting of potential historical property owners was held late last year to provide information and to answer questions.

“There is a lot of wrong information out there,” Roberts said. “The emphasis is on voluntary.”

If a property lies within the historical district, a special review process is required for exterior alterations, demolition or new construction, Roberts said. Interior work is not subject to design review.

“Once we have a list of those (property owners) considering this, that will trigger a public hearing,” he said. “Then it goes to Lansing, and then ultimately (the Franklin Village Council) will review it and pass an ordinance to change the limits of the district.”     

By a unanimous vote, the Franklin Village Council voted to approve the committee’s status report and to reappoint the members of the Franklin Historic District Commission study committee.

For more information on historical building tax credits, visit the National Park Service website at www.nps.gov.

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