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 The Upton House’s lights are aglow as dusk settles upon Sterling Heights Dec. 3.

The Upton House’s lights are aglow as dusk settles upon Sterling Heights Dec. 3.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Sterling celebrates Upton House restoration

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published December 10, 2019

 Retired music director Jim Stogdill, of Sterling Heights, plays the organ in the newly restored Upton House during an open house.

Retired music director Jim Stogdill, of Sterling Heights, plays the organ in the newly restored Upton House during an open house.

Photo by Deb Jacques

 Upton House windows are decorated with wreaths for the holidays.

Upton House windows are decorated with wreaths for the holidays.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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STERLING HEIGHTS — Jim Stogdill has lived in Sterling Heights since 1968, the year it became a city. But he said he didn’t, until recently, enjoy the historical value of the city’s Upton House — and get a chance to play Christmas songs on its old-fashioned pump organ.

“I think everyone should know that it’s here and be able to come,” he said. “(The organ) is a little difficult with the pedals, but as of last week, it wasn’t working because one of the bellows was broken on the left. And my neighbor is the one who repaired it. … So thanks to him, it’s working.”

City officials, Historical Commission members and other supporters of the Upton House gathered in its cozy, Christmas-decorated lobby Dec. 3 to celebrate the site’s restoration and reopening.

The Upton House is located on the campus of the Richard J. Notte Sterling Heights City Center, by Dodge Park and Utica roads. Built in the 19th century, the house currently is a historical museum filled with old documents, maps, furniture, clothing and more.

According to the city, farmer William Upton built the house in 1867, and his 136 acres of property originally included the footprint of Stevenson High School and part of Dodge Park. Over the years, various owners took over the property and its home. The city reportedly acquired the Upton House in 1978 and renovated parts of it during the 1990s.

Early this year, the city announced that it had to close the historical home to visitors because it needed repairs. A February plumbing mishap flooded some of the home’s flooring, city officials said. However, officials said the disaster didn’t destroy any historical artifacts.

After months of work, the home was ready to show off to the public in December. Melanie Davis, Sterling Heights’ community relations director, said before the Dec. 3 ribbon-cutting ceremony that the house helps Sterling Heights preserve and remember its history.

“I have heard it said that the only history that matters is the history that we know,” she said. “And I think this, what you’re going to see tonight … is a great example of that.”

Sterling Heights Mayor Michael Taylor said 2018 marked Sterling Heights’ 50th anniversary and Macomb County’s 200th anniversary, and those occasions gave him a chance to learn more about local history.

“This is a tremendous house, and it’s an awesome asset to have here on our city campus,” he said. “Preserving this house is our connection to that past. … It was falling into disrepair, and we obviously had some water damage earlier this year. So we’re really proud to support this historical house and what it stands for, and it’s amazing to see how great it turned out.”

Sterling Heights Public Library Director Tammy Turgeon also celebrated the restoration and thanked the City Council for supporting the project.

“Without their support, the house could’ve been torn down,” she said.

“For those that don’t know, this house has always been here. This house wasn’t moved like Greenfield Village. … And for us to preserve the house where it was, that’s really special.”

Historical Commission chair Meghan Mott praised the commission, city officials and Upton House supporters for rising to the task. She also thanked some local businesses for their contributions to make Christmas decorations possible.

“Tonight is a celebration because this was nine months of work, and I think the house looks great,” Mott said. “Even though we were not expecting the house to flood and to have to do all this work so fast, it ended up being a wonderful opportunity to get a lot of work done.”

Mott said she hopes they will be able to add more features to the facility and to have the house open regularly to the public.

Visitors to the Upton House during the city’s Dec. 7 “A Sterling Christmas” event were invited to visit the home and hang their own ornaments on an indoor Christmas tree. Following the Christmas event, the Upton House plans to be open to the public and small groups starting early next year, though hours of operations were not established at press time.

Find out more about the Upton House and Sterling Heights by visiting www.sterling-heights.net or by calling (586) 446-2640.

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