Community Include

Historic District Survey

The City of Northville is embarking on an intensive-level survey to uncover new information about the historical features and architectural attributes of up to 343 houses and other buildings in the City of Northville’s Historic District, which encompasses some 144 acres (see map). It’s the first study of its kind in 45 years, when a partial survey of 61 historic structures in the district was conducted.

Funding for a portion of the survey is being arranged through a grant from the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), with the remainder being funded by the City.

Public Meetings

(updated as meeting dates are determined)

 7/19/18 - Local Historic District Study Committee Meeting Agenda

 7/19/18 - Meeting Date Change Notice
(moved from 7/23 to 7/19)


Historic Survey Study Project Updates and Questions

Project Updates click here

Questions about the Survey click here

Historic Survey Study Project Materials

 Study Report - Volume I (184 MB)
 Study Report - Volume II - Full Inventory (75 MB)
 6/12/18 Study Committee Meeting Agenda
3/1/18 Meeting Video
 3/1/18 - Public Kickoff Meeting Presentation
 3/1/18 - Public Kickoff Meeting Agenda
 3/1/18 - Public Kickoff Meeting Minutes
 RFP Bid Results – Information Only
 RFP Questions and Answers
 RFP Historic District Survey
 Historic District Map

Why is a survey needed?
How will the survey be conducted, what will be reported?
Level of Research
Selection of an Architectural Historian
Local Historic District Study Committee
Project Timeline
Questions About the Survey
Project Updates

Why is a survey needed?

It will uncover new historical data and will provide a basis for local planning. Results will be used to complete a new National Register of Historic Places nomination to update the data in the federal register. The results of the survey will become a permanent record for the City, state and federal government, and will be accessible to the public in a digital format on the City’s website. Reports and digital information will also be provided to the Northville Historical Society for their records at Mill Race Village, and the Northville District Library.

Historic Home
Home on W. Dunlap Street.                                                        Photo by Liz Cezat
A historic survey was last done in 1972, when the tools and techniques used to survey historic districts were rudimentary, compared to today’s detailed and defined reports. As a result, there are gaps in:

  • Completeness – Only 61 of 343 existing properties in the district have been studied to any extent.

  • Historical significance – The era of each property has not been sufficiently recorded.

  • Missing link – The Historic District encompasses both commercial and residential properties. The 1972 survey didn’t include any commercial, industrial or institutional buildings, which also have historic significance. This study will include those buildings. Individually and collectively, the study will help define the historic distinctions of neighborhoods and the commercial district.

  • The Historic District doesn’t know what it doesn’t know – When changes are proposed to unstudied resources, recommendations concerning the property may be skewed due to unknown facts. Knowing what historic elements constitute the property and their historical significance are important metrics.

  • Local Historic District Study Committee Report – A new Local Historic District Study Committee Report will be created. This document will illustrate, in an easy-to-use format, relevant information about various historic properties in the district. Further, it will describe the district and explain why it is significant and unique.

  • Improve preservation of Northville’s historic resources - Having historic information about principal and accessory buildings – whether residential, commercial, institutional or industrial - will help educate the property owner and the community of the relevance of these features, and guide decision-making about how to preserve or modify the structure.

How will the survey be conducted, what will be reported?

The project will be conducted by architectural historians from Commonwealth Heritage Group, out of their Dexter, Michigan office. Properties that are less than 40 years old will be identified, and their date of construction noted. Properties that are more than 40 years old will be researched as described below in the “Level of Research” section.

The types of properties that will be included in the survey are houses and grounds, public buildings (schools and churches), commercial buildings (downtown), parks, factories/mill complexes, and utility structures.

Level of Research

Historic Home
This historic home on N. Wing Street houses Angela Carson photography.

The intensive-level survey methodologies will follow the procedures in SHPO’s Manual for Historical and Architectural Surveys in Michigan, and will include field work, research, evaluation and preparing the report.

The architectural historian will conduct field surveys on all properties. Property records will be kept in a database. Each property will be photographed per the standards for electronic images. The surveyed properties will be mapped in a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) program, and a survey form (Appendix C of the SHPO Survey Manual) will be completed for each historic property provided.

No research beyond the date of construction will be conducted for any properties less than 40 years old unless significant history is easily identified for the property. For properties more than 40 years old, the research will start with the existing information provided in the original survey, and will be upgraded to intensive level for all buildings and features. Research will include use of early maps, directories, tax assessor records, and the collection available at Mill Race Village, Northville’s Historic Park and information repository.

Each surveyed property will then be evaluated for historic significance, based on the National Register of Historic Places Criteria for Evaluation. This determines which resources are historic (contribute) to the district.

The survey report will be drafted, providing a summary of the project, recommendations resulting from the survey, a narrative description of the survey area, and historical significance statement for the district that includes identified historic contexts. A map of the district showing contributing and non-contributing resources will be produced. The completed survey forms will be included in the survey report. An Excel spreadsheet of the properties surveyed by street address and number, that includes the date of construction, architectural style, and eligibility determination, will be included as an appendix in the report. The survey report will be reviewed and approved by the State Historic Preservation Office.

Selection of an Architectural Historian

City Council awarded the project to Commonweath Heritage Group. Their architectural historians have specialized training in identifying and researching historic structures, and preparing the survey reports per the federal guidelines.

Local Historic District Study Committee

As part of this project, and in keeping with the state enabling legislation, City Council appointed a local historic district study committee, comprised of various members of the community including a member of the Historic District Commission, Northville Historical Society, architects, representatives of community organizations, residents and property owners in the Historic District, and residents at large. The study committee will work with the architectural historian during the study and preparation of the reports.

Study Committee Members:

Historic District Commission: James Allen, David Field
Northville Historical Society: Leanie Bayley, Mark Chester
Architect: Robert Miller
Downtown Property Owner: Suzanne Cozart
Resident at Large: Jeff Russell

Project Timeline

June 2017 - City awarded Federal Grant to conduct intensive-level Historic District survey

Aug 9, 2017 - City issues Request for Proposals (RFP) seeking consultants to conduct survey

Sept 5, 2017 - RFP submission deadline

Oct 2, 2017 - City Council awards project to Commonwealth Heritage Group

Nov-Dec 2017 - SHPO review period of consultant contract

Jan 3, 2018 - City Council appoints Local Historic District Study Committee (LHDSC)

Mar 1, 2018 - LHDSC Public Kick-off Meeting (7pm at City Hall)

June 2018 - Consultant and LHDSC public meeting to discuss first draft of report

July 2018 - LHDSC meets to review final draft and approve for transmittal to SHPO

Sept 4, 2018 - Consultant submits 2nd draft National Register materials to City Council

Sept 25, 2018 – LHDSC holds Public Hearing for LHDSR

Property owners will receive a letter explaining the survey and field study, and be invited to a kickoff meeting. The consultant will conduct the historic resource survey (field work) and prepare report drafts once the survey work has been completed.

Public Input

The project will include several public information meetings to keep residents informed and involved in the survey. The first will be an informational meeting before the survey begins; the second will present a preliminary draft of the survey report and ask for feedback. Based on this input, the survey report will be revised and presented as a final document during a third meeting. That meeting will be a public hearing (e.g. City Council meeting) at which time, the City Council will hear from residents about the final draft before voting on it. Meeting dates will be posted on this page.


The City has created this web page to inform residents and property owners about the scope of the survey, and provide status updates. The City will also publicize the survey through:

  • City News, online weekly newsletter

  • Northville Matters, quarterly print publication, which is mailed to all residents

  • Media relations – The City will send out timely press releases to educate the media, and ultimately the public, about the study, needed feedback, and report results.

Questions About the Survey

During the survey process, if you have questions about the survey, please email Questions will be collected and answers posted on this page on a periodic basis.

Question received 3/5/18: Will the Historic District Survey information be used by the City Assessor and affect their property assessment in any way?

Response: Per the Assessor, the assessing records will be accessible and used by the Historic District Survey project surveyors, and their data will be shared with the Assessing Department. Any information received from the surveyors that appears to be omitted from the Assessing Department’s records will be reviewed and the records updated to correct any discrepancies. This will mean additions and/or losses in the assessed value may occur by use of, and reviewing the information shared.

Project Updates

July 11

Commonwealth Heritage Group completed the second draft of the Local Historic District Study Report for the Northville Historic District, incorporating comments from the State Historic Preservation Office and the Local Historic District Study Committee (LHDSC). The document is available in the Historic Survey Study Project Materials box at the top of this webpage. A hard copy is also available for review at the Building Department.

The LHDSC will meet at 7pm on July 19 at City Hall to review the draft report. Public comment on the draft report may be submitted to

May 15

The photography field work is complete. The Historic Survey Team will still be in the field to take GPS points for every property. This will likely happen in the next few weeks. It is anticipated the Local Historic District Study Committee will meet the week of June 18. A meeting notice will be posted on this page when the meeting date is set.

Mar 19

Last week, the Historic Survey Team began photographing the properties in the Historic District. This part of the project should continue through this week. The project consultants have also begun their background research, which includes gathering materials on the individual properties. On March 1, the public kickoff meeting was held. A copy of the presentation and the meeting video may be found at the top of this webpage.

Feb 22 – Historic District Survey Field Work Update

Provided the area remains “snow free,” the Historic District Survey team plans to begin its survey of the properties in the Northville Historic District during the week of March 5th.

The survey team of 1-2 historians will be identified with a City-issued ID Badge, and will be wearing yellow vests for safety. They will be carrying a camera, and may also have a clipboard and Global Positioning System (GPS) unit. Please keep checking back for updates.

Jan 31 - Historic District Survey Field Work Update

The Historic District Survey team will begin visiting properties in the Northville Historic District when there is no longer snow on the ground. Because each property needs to be photographed from the street/public sidewalk, standards for the Historic District Study Report require the ground be visible, so a clear understanding of the building/structure/site/objects/setting can be gained.

It’s estimated that once the snow is gone, the actual field work will take approximately 5-10 days to survey all the properties in the District. The survey team of 1-2 historians will be identified with a City-issued ID Badge, and will be wearing yellow vests for safety. They will be carrying a camera, and may also have a clipboard and Global Positioning System (GPS) unit. The actual dates of the field work will be posted to this webpage once they are known. Please keep checking back for updates.

Main Street home
128 E. Main Street
Old Village School District
405 W. Main Street - Old Village School