The Kalamazoo Historic Preservation Commission (KPHC) will present its 2018 Awards of Merit on Wednesday, May 30, at 5:30 pm. The awards ceremony will be held in the Globe Casket Building (Beer Exchange) on the third floor. The public is welcome to attend. Light refreshments will be served.
For over two decades the KHPC has presented awards for preservation projects in the city of Kalamazoo. Awards have recognized institutions such as the Woodward School, books such as Kalamazoo: Lost and Found, and nearly three dozen single and multiple family homes, rental and owner-occupied housing rehabilitation projects, and new infill houses.
These awards are given annually in May in local recognition of National Historic Preservation Month. This year’s award recipients have done an outstanding job of rehabilitating a historic structure or have actively promoted or contributed to historic preservation in the city of Kalamazoo.
This year’s seven award winners include:
Charles and Susan Crandall House at 716 Minor Avenue: When owner Lynn Stevens bought this former student rental, the house was clad in Transite and had a failing garage. For more than a decade, she repaired the back porch, got approval from the Historic District Commission to remove the garage, and took on numerous projects inside including the kitchen, bathrooms, and much more. On the outside, her house became the subject of one of the Old House Network’s Great Unveiling projects. In about 4 hours, 20 volunteers stripped off the Transite to reveal fish scale shingles in the gables and original siding in very good condition.
1304 Merrill Street: This handsome house with a wrap-around curved porch sits tucked into the hillside at the west end of Forest Street on Merrill. For many, many years it was broken up into apartments. Extra doors were added and windows lost due to renovations designed to house as many tenants as possible. Owners Jennifer McVey and Susan Lindemann, started with a new roof 17 years ago and the process has been ongoing ever since. They removed the north side entry that led to the upper apartment and reinstalled the window in that location. They also reconfigured the rear, added a Craftsman-style pergola and fence, and repaired the marvelous curved porch.
George and Ella Reed House, 928 South Rose Street: In 2016 the Kalamazoo County Treasurer took ownership of this house through tax foreclosure. Located on a prominent corner, the bones of this neglected house were good but needed rehabilitation. The failing brick garage was removed freeing up parking space and allowing a new rear entrance. After ownership was turned over to the Kalamazoo County Land Bank, a complete renovation transformed the house and it was sold to a new owner last year.
Bosman Building, 627 South Burdick Street: Albert and Susan Trombley have operated their salon and gallery from this building for decades. One of the last historic commercial structures remaining on this part of South Burdick, they have maintained the historic character of the building while putting it to an active, busy use. Their award is rarely given, for preservation of an important historic building.
Civic Theatre, 329 South Park: After 87 years, the Civic needed to update some spaces including the lower level restrooms and lobby. Careful design work from Byce and Associates integrated important design elements, including the iconic eight pointed stars and the theatrical comedy and tragedy masks into the renovated spaces. Colors were drawn from murals in the Green Room and throughout the building and the result is an enchanting transformation of practical spaces, seamlessly integrated into one of the City’s most important cultural buildings.
Park Club, 219 West South: For decades the front of the Park Club, originally the William and Martha Lawrence House, has been marred by the presence of the necessary but unattractive fire escape. Over the last couple of years, Byce and Associates has executed a plan that repaired the tower, removed the fire escape, and reconstructed the front porch and the front steps. They replaced the deteriorating Portage River sandstone with salvaged material from buildings in Calumet Michigan.
Individuals or Institutions
Plazacorp: Over the past two decades, Plazacorp and its investors have revitalized six historic buildings in downtown Kalamazoo, peeling away years of neglect or inappropriate alterations to reveal the beauty of the original buildings. Their completed projects include the Shakespeare, United, and Speareflex buildings in the downtown, and the Gibson factory and Illinois Envelope Buildings elsewhere in the City. They have acquired other historic buildings and have plans in process for several others. They have been a vital part of the revitalization of downtown Kalamazoo.