Township applies for historic designation from federal program

By: Sarah Wojcik | Shelby - Utica News | Published December 16, 2015

 Paige Ash, an intern in the Supervisor’s Office, stands in front of the historic Andrew’s School Museum, located on the township municipal grounds. Ash completed an application for a federal program, which, if granted, would assign Shelby Township a historical designation.

Paige Ash, an intern in the Supervisor’s Office, stands in front of the historic Andrew’s School Museum, located on the township municipal grounds. Ash completed an application for a federal program, which, if granted, would assign Shelby Township a historical designation.

Photo provided by Brad Bates

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SHELBY TOWNSHIP — Earlier this month, Shelby Township sent off its application to Preserve America, a White House initiative to encourage and support community efforts for the preservation and enjoyment of the country’s heritage.

Paige Ash, an intern in the Supervisor’s Office and a Shelby Township resident, worked with local authorities and drew extensively from the Shelby Township Historical Committee’s website, www.shelbyhistory.com, to compile information for the comprehensive application.

If accepted, Shelby Township would be the first Preserve America community in Macomb County. Since the program began in 2003, 843 communities have been designated as Preserve America communities, according to www.pre serveamerica.gov.

Benefits of the designation include White House recognition, eligibility to apply for Preserve America grants, a road sign and the ability to use the Preserve America logo on promotional materials.

Deputy Supervisor Brad Bates, who discovered the initiative, said recipients of the designation are chosen quarterly. He added that Congresswoman Candice Miller wrote a letter of recommendation that was included in the application.

“We have a rich heritage in Shelby Township dating back to our earliest frontier settlers, to the Underground Railroad, to the growth of manufacturing in metro Detroit,” Supervisor Rick Stathakis said. “I hope the Preserve America program will bring new attention and interest to Shelby Township’s past.”

Bates said the application for the Preserve America program focused on some of the historical landmarks and events in the area that provide avenues for residents to learn about Shelby Township’s past, such as the Andrews School Museum and the annual pioneer Christmas event at the Burgess-Shadbush Nature Center.

“(History) is kind of a budding passion of mine,” said Ash, who studies English at Oakland University. “It was very interesting to find out different things Shelby Township had in the past.”

She said much of what she needed to research for Preserve America criteria was already on the Historical Committee’s website.

The website catalogs all of the historically relevant sites and stories associated with Shelby Township dating back to 1822. It is maintained by former Historical Committee member and current volunteer website administrator Dan Lehman.

“Their efforts made this application process exceedingly less difficult,” Ash said.

As part of the application, Ash said she had to write a 500-word essay on the Packard Proving Grounds.

Mary Anne Demo, event coordinator for the historic Packard Proving Grounds, said the Preserve America program sounds like a good thing.

“Being one of those historical sites, we’re really excited that people in the community are more interested in historical places, instead of wanting to tear them down to use the land for something else,” Demo said. “It helps preserve our local history.”

The proving grounds, Demo said, are becoming a popular wedding and event destination. With modern bathrooms and heat in the repair lodge, she said many individuals rent the space because of its rustic feel.

“Who would have known that rustic would be so popular right now?” she said.

For more information about the Preserve America program, visit www.preserveamerica.gov or call the Supervisor’s Office at (586) 731-5154.

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