Local Preservation Projects to be Honored with Historic Preservation Awards of Merit

The Kalamazoo Historic Preservation Commission (KHPC) will present its 2017 Awards of Merit on Wednesday, May 24, 2017, at 5:30 pm. The awards ceremony will be held at Riverview Launch located at 1523 Riverview Drive (the reception and awards ceremony will take place in the barn). The public is welcome to attend. Light refreshments will be served.

For more than two decades the KHPC has presented awards for preservation related projects in the city of Kalamazoo. Awards have been presented to places such as the Lincoln school, Zion Lutheran Church, as well as nearly three dozen single and multiple family homes, rental and owner-occupied housing rehabilitation projects, and new infill houses.

These awards are presented annually in May in local recognition of National Historic Preservation Month. This year’s award recipients have done an outstanding job rehabilitating a historic structure or have actively promoted or contributed to historic preservation in the city of Kalamazoo.

Residential Property Awards

W.G. Bartholomew House at 832 Elmwood: One of the oldest houses in the city, Jean Harden purchased the house at a tax sale auction in August of 2014. The house was originally located on West Main and was moved to the current location in the 1870s. Over three years, the owner has repaired structural issues, updated a bathroom and restored the original windows.

Commercial/Institutional Awards

Grand Trunk Western Depot at 421 & 427 East Michigan, Plazacorp Realty Advisors: This structure was built in 1890 as a one of over a dozen freight sheds located in downtown Kalamazoo (of which only two remain). When Plazacorp Realty Advisors purchased the property in 2014, the building had been vacant for several years. They wanted to pay tribute to the city’s industrial, manufacturing and agricultural past by returning the building to productive use.  The redevelopment was completed in late 2016 and the building houses two restaurants (Hop Cat and Maru) and office space.

City Savings Bank building at 1301 Portage, Kalamazoo County Land Bank: In 1920, the City Savings Bank built its first branch on the corner of Portage Street and Washington Avenue with room for small offices on the second floor used by doctors and dentists. Over the near century in between the building has been used as a drug store, laundromat and insurance agency. In 2013 the building was acquired by the Kalamazoo County Land Bank and with the assistance of a façade grant the exterior of the building was restored. A new restaurant will open in the building in May 2017.

Individual/Institutional Awards

Kalamazoo Public Library, Local History Room website “All About Kalamazoo History”: The Kalamazoo Public Library “All About Kalamazoo History” website is leader in web-based historical information and includes an online index of the Kalamazoo Gazette, hundreds of local photographs from three local institutions and nearly 600 interconnected web pages covering more than 20 categories. Pages about people and places from Kalamazoo’s past are a special delight, including biographies, cemeteries, rural schools, houses/buildings, businesses and institutions, researched and written by members of the Kalamazoo Public Library staff. This website is an invaluable resource for researchers ranging from middle school students competing in History Day to genealogists.

For more information about the Historic Preservation Awards of Merit or award winners, please call Sharon Ferraro, City of Kalamazoo Historic Preservation Coordinator at 269-337-8804 or email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.

The Tour is Back! Hidden Kalamazoo Tour returns to Downtown Kalamazoo for its 5th Year

The Hidden Kalamazoo Tour returns to downtown Kalamazoo June 17 & 18, offering an opportunity to visit the City’s less traveled historic spaces before these windows into the past disappear.

This year the tour goes behind the scenes in spaces that have been in constant use for over 130 years, like Ladies Library, and other historic buildings currently in use such as the Park Club and the Park Trades Center. Hidden Kalamazoo will tour the vacant Masonic Temple building, poised for redevelopment in the near future, and venture further east on Michigan and Kalamazoo into the upper floors above the Old Dog Tavern and tour the nearby Muleskinner – an old wooden storefront with an attached interurban maintenance car! The tour also includes a bonus work-in-progress site downtown.

Returning from last year, three historic buildings constructed out of Legos will be on display in the atrium of City Hall for free to anyone who wants to visit. City Hall will also serve as a hub with book sales, ticket sales (if tickets are available), and restrooms. Across South Street in Bronson Park, interpreters will talk about the history of the park and answer questions about the Bronson Park 21st Century fundraising campaign.

Ticket sales are limited to 900 sold in advance of the tour to the general public. Tickets are just $15 for both days of the tour and are available beginning May 1st at City of Kalamazoo offices and select area businesses:

  • Spirit of Kalamazoo at 154 South Kalamazoo Mall
  • D&W at 2103 Parkview Avenue (at Oakland Drive)
  • D&W at 525 Romence Road in Portage
  • Kalamazoo City Hall (City Treasurer’s Office) at 241 W South Street
  • Kalamazoo Public Services Building at 415 Stockbridge

Previous Hidden Kalamazoo Tours have sold out in advance, so tickets may not be available during the tour.

Tourists can go from one site to the next on their own schedule and start and finish at any stop. Each site is staffed by a manager and a crew of tour guides. The tour sites for the 2017 Hidden Kalamazoo Tour are:

  • Ladies Library, 333 South Park
  • Park Club, 219 West South
  • Masonic Temple,  309 North Rose
  • Park Trades,  334 West Kalamazoo
  • Old Dog (Star Building), 402 East Kalamazoo
  • Muleskinner, 316 East Water
  • Bronson Park
  • City Hall (tour hub), 241 West South

Hidden Kalamazoo is currently looking for volunteer tour guides. Volunteer guides will be asked to work one 3½ hour shift over the weekend and in return get a free ticket and an official Hidden Kalamazoo T-shirt. For more information about volunteering, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The 5th Annual Hidden Kalamazoo Tour is sponsored by the Kalamazoo Valley Museum.

About Hidden Kalamazoo

The Hidden Kalamazoo Tour began to showcase vacant downtown buildings and upper floors in the increasingly active and busy city center. For the fifth year the Kalamazoo Historic Preservation Commission has offered the opportunity for people to go where only maintenance staff and business owners were allowed. In 2013 and 2015 the tickets sold out almost a week before the tour.

When the tornado swept through downtown Kalamazoo in 1980, most of the upper floors of downtown buildings were vacant or used only for storage. Today, only eight old buildings are completely unused upstairs, and new construction is changing the skyline. The upper floors have been redeveloped into beautiful apartments or comfortable new offices with high ceilings, beautiful woodwork and an atmosphere only old buildings offer.

The Hidden Kalamazoo tour is a fundraiser for the Kalamazoo Historic Preservation Commission, a self-funded city advisory board. You can follow the Tour on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter or at www.hiddenkalamazoo.com. More information, contact Sharon Ferraro at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (269) 337-8804.

City of Kalamazoo to Commemorate Arbor Day with the Planting of Three Trees at Reed Street Park

To commemorate National Arbor Day on Friday, April 28, three trees will be planted in Reed Street Park. One Dawn Redwood, one Saw Tooth Oak, and one Red Katsura were chosen to beautify and provide shade in the park, which lost one of its largest trees last year.  

The tree planting will begin at 2:00 p.m. at 1700 Portage Street, near the corner of Portage and Reed Streets. Volunteers are welcome and encouraged to attend and assist with the planting.

This event is organized by the City of Kalamazoo’s Forestry Division, Department of Parks & Recreation, Parks & Recreation Advisory Board, and Tree Committee. Vice Mayor Don Cooney will be in attendance to commemorate the event.

The City of Kalamazoo has been recognized by the Arbor Day Foundation as a Tree City USA for the past 24 years. To be recognized, a City must have a tree board or department, a tree care ordinance, a forestry program, and observe Arbor Day, among other requirements.  

City of Kalamazoo

Home to the Kalamazoo Promise, three institutions of higher education, two nationally recognized healthcare systems, cutting-edge medical research, world-class brewing and dining, outstanding parks, and an extensive variety of music, art, theatre, and cultural attractions.


 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 (269) 337-8047
 (269) 337-8182
 241 West South Street
     Kalamazoo, MI 49007

Keep in Touch