33rd Annual Statewide Preservation Conference underway

LANSING, MI:  Titled “Ingredients of Place” the 33rd annual conference is being through May 11  by the Michigan Historic Preservation Network (MHPN) in Marquette.

“The history of Marquette is a long and rich one,” states Melissa Milton-Pung, MHPN President.  “The Michigan Historic Preservation Network is looking forward to our visit to this architecturally rich city which utilized the local resources to make its place in the world, and became an economic and educational leader for its region and our state.”

Michigan State Historic Preservation Officer Brian Conway noted that the conference was offering its usual number of excellent educational sessions, including those that address the preservationist’s view of placemaking.  “The conference aligns well with Governor Rick Snyder’s common sense approach to placemaking.  Marquette, with its rich history, stunning location on Lake Superior, and wealth of historic buildings is a great location for exploring this effort and showcasing how authentic, historic buildings and pedestrian-friendly planning combine to demonstrate the vitality of ‘place.’”

Nancy Finegood, MHPN Executive Director, remarked on Marquette’s numerous awards – “Everything from the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s 2010 Distinctive Destination designation to the selection of the historic Peter White Library for the 2010 National Medal for Museum and Library makes Marquette the perfect location to look at the role that preservation plays in placemaking. We will use Marquette as our workshop, but people from across the state, urban and rural alike, will find sessions that will benefit them and their hometowns.”

Ken Czapski, of the local conference committee and MHPN board member, is proud of his adopted home town and looks forward to sharing it with attendees.  “This is the eighth time the MHPN has brought its programs to the Upper Peninsula and just the second time for its major statewide conference, so I’m thrilled to be part of the effort to showcase Marquette and our historic resources.”

Thursday sessions include topics such as “Michigan Modern, Looking North,” “Preserving Place at Calumet’s Cultural Landscape,” and “Preserving the Michigan Barn: Hands-On Basics.” Other sessions cover “How Marquette Leveraged Its History,” “Place-Changing in Coldwater with the Tibbits Opera House,” and “Those Old Barns! Let’s Talk Adaptive Reuse.”  Tours include “Three Churches and a Courthouse…and More,” and “An Evening Walking Tour: The Commercial and Civic Buildings of Downtown Marquette.” The day also includes a special off-site session, “Practical Renovation and Restoration – A Reality Check at the Seiple House.”  At noon, conference attendees will gather for a welcome by Marquette mayor, the Honorable John DePetro, a special networking lunch, and recognition of the conference scholarship recipients.

The conference continues on Friday with sessions on “Ingredients from This Place: U.P. Building Materials,”  “Archaeology: It’s About People – Past and Present,” and “White Elephants: Community Liability to Asset.”  The schedule of educational sessions on Friday also covers such topics as “Saving Allegan’s First Baptist Church,” “A Landscape Triumphs: Port Oneida,” “Back to Life: Buildings in Escanaba and the Sault,” and “Below the Ground, Above the Bridge: U.P. Archaeology.” Also featured on Friday is the popular two-part “Incentives for Preservation Projects,” which is open at a special price to non-conference attendees as well.  Friday tours include “Michigan’s Iron Industry and the Iron Ore Heritage Trail” and “Marquette’s Arch & Ridge Streets Historic Residential District.” There is also an off-site presentation entitled “Fire and Art: The Craft of a Modern Working Blacksmith.”

Two sessions on Friday have been planned which are free and open to the public and allow a close-up look at the placemaking conference theme.  The first of these is “Michigan’s New Placemaking Curriculum,” presented in the morning by James Tischler, Director, Community Development Division, Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) and Arnold Weinfeld, Director, Strategic Initiatives, and President, Michigan Municipal League Foundation.  Then, “The Michigan Main Street Program – the ‘How to’ of Downtown Placemaking” is presented in an educational session that runs all afternoon.  If you purchase lunch and attend the free keynote address that follows, you can enjoy an entire day at the conference at a very low price.

Saturday features additional educational programming, including two sessions on archaeology, “Michigan Underwater: Shipwreck Preservation and Archaeology” and “Planning for the Unexpected: The Role of Archaeology in Community Planning.”  A concurrent program is a two-part session entitled “Navigating Building Codes, Maintenance, and Lead Hazards in Historic Commercial Buildings…and Other Historic Buildings too!”  Following the second part of the in-seat session, participants will visit a building undergoing restoration to apply what they have learned.

In addition to the free sessions already mentioned, the MHPN invites the public to attend several conference highlights that are also free and open to the general public.  On Thursday evening, everyone is invited to the Community Open House and Vendors’ Showcase to learn about the latest preservation products and services. The open house this year also includes a presentation of timber frame barn construction and a preservation “film festival” where videos highlighting preservation programs across the state will be featured.    On Friday, our keynote speaker, Kathryn Bishop Eckert, PhD, author and former SHPO, will discuss “Recognizing the Ingredients at Hand.”

To learn about the conference, download the brochure at www.mhpn.org or request a copy at admin@mhpn.org or (517) 371-8080. Costs range from $70-$390.