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My new project!

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My new project!

Postby S Melissa on Thu Apr 17, 2008 9:03 pm

Well, never let it be said that when I take a pledge to not do something, that my word isn't good! Years ago I took the "pledge" to not move any more buildings - but here I go again - I promise - I will stop - this is the last one!!

this little house is a 2 up 2 down frontier house - or first generation house that dates to 1827 or so. For Michigan - that's early. Folks remember that Detroit was founded in 1701 - but it suffered several major fires over the years, and today the oldest house in Detroit is after 1850. I know of three of these little houses in Wayne county - and two of them are in Canton, one in Plymouth - town to the north of us.

We've hired a contractor who works with the Amish to take down this little post and beam house and move it across the street to the Bartlett-Travis house property where we have several farm out buildings, a big barn and a pole barn and the BT house. This is park land for the township. The developer that owns the property where the Hugh Clyde house resides will be developing the property in the "cherry hill fashion" - I'll include some shots as well of some of the area around the BT house and the new neo-traditional development of Cherry Hill. Hugh Clyde was the first settler here, and tho he took up about 260 acres of land in the area, he began subdividing it in a manner that appeared like he was planning a village at these cross roads. He arrived in Canton in 1827 with his wife, Eliza and 2 little ones. Hugh died in 1831 leaving Eliza with 3 little ones and all alone on the frontier. Eliza wrote to her parents (Hustons) in NY and urged them to come to Canton which they did - with their hefty posse of sons and settled here, cleared land and were big contributors to the community. I live in a Huston house - one of several that still exist in Canton. So - here's my slice of the world!

here's the house with the roof off:
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More of the house being torn down by the Amish

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Here's a picture of one of Hugh Clyde's house's cousins in Canton:
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And the one in Plymouth
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Melissa
Canton, MI
1860 Italianate - Reuben Huston Home
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S Melissa
 
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Re: My new project!

Postby S Melissa on Thu Apr 17, 2008 9:15 pm

Now, here's the area around this little house.

This is the Cherry Hill School. I worked on this building in the late 1980's when my son Ian was a babe - we had a blast on this project. Now owned by the township - we rescued it from certain death - due to no new roof since the 1940's. In the 1940's Henry Ford adopted this little school and put on the addition and roofed it - stuccoed it too. This school dates to 1876. The maples in the yard were probably planted as part of a centinial celebration where they planted maple trees all over the country.

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This is the Cherry Hill Inn, another project I worked on. This is privately owned by a young man and his wife. It too was nearly lost, but he took some money he inhierated from his mom, and sunk it into this building - it was a sad sad place before Scott got it. He did most of the work himself, and i was his cheerleader, his mentor, his shoulder, his advocate, his mom. Sadly, this lovely young man has been suffering with an odd cancer - started 6 mos into this project - and now is back again. It is a cancer of the sinuses and a tiny bit was too close to his brain for them to "get it all" - he's been pretty sick - so sick he doesn't answer my emails and suffers with terrific headaches. I bleed for him - love him like one of my own kids. I gotta bake him a pie I think. Anyway - here's his lovely building. The porches were just GONE - and with old pictures we rebuilt the porches - to scale. The windows were special order they're so big; the doors are replicas of original he found in the junk piles in the building. Now, on 2nd floor is a day spa, on 1st floor 2 suites - one chiropractor and the other a party store. this building dates to 1866 - built by Abner Hitchcock - as a hotel for a rail road spur thought to come thru CH - but it didn't come and he went bankrupt. Eventually, it was turned into a general store, and the upstairs was converted to a dance hall with a spring board floor. Folks from miles around would come to dance and eat chicken. I bet Henry Ford danced here - as he was a big fan of contra dancing and folk dancing. Many a romance began in this old building.
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Melissa
Canton, MI
1860 Italianate - Reuben Huston Home
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S Melissa
 
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Re: My new project!

Postby kec01 on Thu Apr 17, 2008 9:45 pm

Yeah, right....it's your last house move, Melissa!!! I absolutely commend Canton for preserving the buildings that you've saved. I'm originally from Royal Oak and love to see this happening.

Kitty
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Re: My new project!

Postby S Melissa on Thu Apr 17, 2008 9:47 pm

And finally, here are some pictures of the Cherry HIll Village. Cherry Hill got its name when Abner Hitchcock built the inn - because of the wild cherry trees that covered the area. Originally the area was known as "The Ridge" as we reside on the banks of an ancient ice-age lake - Lake Whittlesey. We live on the only sand in Wayne County. In the spring, when the creek floods, we find bi-valve clams and other lake dwellers that crop up from the erosion.

As Canton has grown, we are mostly a typical beige McMansion suburb - and that's OK - but as development made its' way towards CH - we figured we had to do something. So we had the village - it was just a hamlet really - a few small buildings - most of them pretty unremarkable - as historic. Armed with this, we were able to create an overlay zoning district over the area that required a certain building architecture, introduced commercial (in Canton commercial is restricted to a main N/S road some 2 miles East of here); at the same time Canton was considering getting into advocation for the arts - by building a theater. We got Canton to build the theater in the heart of CHV as a catalyst to attract people to the new "small town" area, and to make CH the epicenter of history, culture and the arts. Unfortunatly, the economy in Michigan came along and really kicked us in the slats, but we have a good start, and when things get better - this area will really take off. so here's the tour.

This is the theater. It was built with "liner" buildings - which saved us money on additional exterior materials. The theater is embued with rich velvets, a huge mural in the lobby done by a local artist; an art gallery that surrounds the theater in the inner lobby area for display of various media arts; and the stage with about 400 seats - great acoustics, and no bad seats - we bum tested them to make sure they fit the fannies of the slightly lumpy middle class in Michigan! Every one loves this place. Of 365 days - lights are on about 360 with some sort of activity/classes/tours/meetings/performances.
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Liner buildings on the North side of the Theater:
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buildings on the East side of the Theater - these have commercial on the main floor, and apartments above. The apartments are about 75% filled.
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This is the Human Services Building the township built behind the Cherry Hill School. This building supports various service groups - the Foundation; Growth Works, Senior Alliance etc. The idea was to combine the housing and support services/meeting rooms/secretarial/office equipment etc in one building to have an efficiency of space and cost. We tried to create buildings that progressed in time - not make replicas of the Italianate buildings in the area, but to head towards the 1920's with some of the architecture - creating a time line if you will, and having architecture that gave the sense of history but was modern in nature as well.

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Here's a shot looking across the street to the CH school, to the Human Svs Center - the theater is across the street from the CH school - to the right in this picture

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And finally, here are some of the houses in CHV - we worked long and hard to develop an architectural plan for the whole village - narrow streets, alleys, houses with shallow set backs, wide porches, clapboard siding(hardi plank); variety of size, style, lifestyle - we have homes from the low $200's to the $900K in this area. We have granny flats in many of the houses. We have families of all kinds living here - young, single, middle aged with kids; middle aged with kids and parents; seniors etc. It's great.

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I was deeply involved as a planning commissioner, as historic district commissioner, and as twp board member in this project - it is my pet project. I worked to develop the zoning that would permit this development; to develop the architectural guide lines for new construction that would work with the historic properties that I had sweat blood to preserve; and to design a community where folks of all ages, lifestyles, and incomes could live together; to introduce commercial back to CHV - where it once existed in the historic general store, cobbler's shop, blacksmith shop, and the little Henry Ford Factory (village industry). This development began in 2001 and is about 1/3 done - was chugging along great until the economy died. Ultimatly there will be about 1300 homes/condos here when finsihed, 25 miles of walking paths, and acres and acres of parks. Homes are on lots that range from 40' to 90' wide. My house sits along Ridge Rd, and I'm facing one of the phases of CHV in my front yard, and one in my back yard - tho my property is such that I'll never have any neighbors!

So, I'll shut up for now - now you see how I've entertained myself these past few years. Let me know what you think!
Melissa
Canton, MI
1860 Italianate - Reuben Huston Home
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S Melissa
 
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Re: My new project!

Postby nathanaelgreene on Thu Apr 17, 2008 10:42 pm

that house in Plymoth looks exactly like one that is for sale around were i am looking. What was the arch. style considered to be? it looks like vernicular?
I also love the development area you have worked on. Theres one like that in a/the Ohio local historic town out by me in wich they chose the styles correct, but they built way to many and ruined everything. It pissed everyone off beyond all belief and they are all trying to sell there old homes and get out of town.
Just one more question about the development though. Low $200 thousands isnt really geared towards everyone. I couldnt even afford the garage of one of those places. Anything else a little more inexpensive?
Rescue, Restore and Reuse.
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Re: My new project!

Postby oldhouseluvr on Thu Apr 17, 2008 11:09 pm

Melissa - thanks for the tour. I especially like hearing the history behind both the old and new buildings. Its clear to me that you have invested a great deal of time and energy into your town and the effort shows! So, about this house move, I take it that its actually being dismantled and rebuilt on its new site. Is that correct? And so sorry to hear about your friend's illness. God bless him for taking on that restoration project.
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Re: My new project!

Postby utopia13 on Fri Apr 18, 2008 8:23 am

Melissa...how lovely! Plymouth and Royal Oak are both such cute little towns. My Aunts & Uncles and one Grandmother lived in that area when I was growing up. That area will always hold a special place in my heart & it's nice to know someone like you is out there taking care of business!

Kudos! Great job!
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Re: My new project!

Postby S Melissa on Fri Apr 18, 2008 12:04 pm

Nathanael G - The architectural style is a vernacular - but is often called a "first generation house" or "pioneer/frontier house" - these types of houses were built in concert with the log cabins of first settlements in areas. In our area, settlelment began in earnest in the 1820's - so these houses date to that period. We know of one log cabin in the area that survived into the 1960's but it burned down. There were a few more of these little frontier houses but they are long gone. The big challenge in saving houses like these is that they are so small and plain. Saving a big beautiful house is something folks can get excited about, but these little cottages, not so much - but they represent the settlement era of the area and are important for their history and early rudimentary architecture.

As far as cost goes - right now with the crummy economy there are some homes being built in the $180K range - that's really bottom of the market in the area. Prior to the housing crisis, you couldn't get close to a house in Canton for under $200 - even condos were at the high end of the $100's and over $200Ks. When I see what other folks on this board are paying for houses in their areas, you could only get a garage here for that! Yet, we're fairly low cost housing in the country - compared with the NE and CA areas - where the costs are really really really high!

To combat the over-done aspect of a project this big, there is a lot of variety of styles, sizes and as different phases come into play, there will be different builders which will alter the plans and create different looking neighborhoods. The styles range from one 2nd empire, to vernacular victorians, to arts and crafts styles to colonial revivals. We didn't want a mass of similar housing like you see in typical subdivisions - we wanted variety and the flexibililty for builders to adapt the design guidelines to their own interpretations. All plans are approved by the village architect however, so nothing wierd can go in - we hope anyway!

Utopia - yes, Plymouth and Royal Oak are charming towns, we have a few of them around, and to varying extents, they are being preserved or rehabbed into more modern aspects of historic preservation. Ply particularly has an ongoing battle with historic preservation - the town doesn't seem to think it is important, and many of the lovely old homes in town have gotten some less than desireable modernizations. The HDC in Plymouth are impotent as the city council deems them kooks. They are frustrated big time. The homeowners don't support them either - refusing to have sections that are worthy of historic district designation - designated. Northville on the other hand have been very proactive with historic preservation and have enviable historic districts with lots of local support.

Old house lover - Yes, the house is being dismantled and moved across teh street - to move on a flat bed - which would've been easier, was much more expensive given the cost and time needed to get power lines moved - so we opted for this method. It's an unholy mess right now!
Melissa
Canton, MI
1860 Italianate - Reuben Huston Home
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S Melissa
 
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Re: My new project!

Postby PowerMuffin on Fri Apr 18, 2008 3:08 pm

What a smart thing to do for your town. I hope that the Chamber of Commerce, or whom ever markets the town, is doing as good a job as you are! Our old town of 80,000 people is struggling to keep its older neighborhoods. The issue isn't McMansions (yet), but rather the low income of much of the population. The worry is that when the old homes are neglected, they become candidates for flippers, who, as we know, don't care about historical value. Still the historic neighborhood homes sell for more money than their contemporary counterparts and our old downtown is wonderful.

Colorado has several new areas in the same planning style as you describe, park-like settings with clustered, old-styled homes. They are very popular and sell well. I love the look of a neighborhood instead of a development.

Great job Melissa. You've inspired me to think about what I can do for our town.
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Re: My new project!

Postby Mary Alice on Fri Apr 25, 2008 9:37 pm

Melissa, I have read through this post twice, and both times I am just blown away at what you ( The Original One Woman Tornado of Accomplishment) have achieved. Blown away. What an ideal concept to create a town and neighborhood with the charm and services there for the residents to take advantage of and continue to support. It sounds like such a win-win- I wish we were seeing more like this across the country. Granted, it wouldn't work everywhere, but I wonder how far this idea could spread and be put into use where it could work. Really impressive & very inspiring, Melissa!

M. A.
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