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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
June 2017 - City awarded Federal Grant to conduct intensive-level
Historic District survey
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.
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:
During the survey process, if you have questions about the survey, please email Historicsurvey@ci.northville.mi.us. 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.
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
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.
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.
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.