Marquette to host statewide historic preservation conference
Experts talk placemaking, restoration, building communities
by Christie Bleck
Anyone wanting to learn about Marquette’s Arch and Ridge streets and the state’s iron industry should attend “Ingredients of Place” May 8 to 11 in Marquette.
The event is the thirty-third annual Michigan Historic Preservation Network’s statewide conference, which will take place at the Don H. Bottum University Center at Northern Michigan University.
The conference also will feature topics such as Calumet’s cultural landscape, Michigan barns, modern blacksmithing and shipwreck preservation and archaeology.
Not only will the conference fascinate people interested in historic buildings, but it will show how historic preservation can be integrated into a community.
Ken Czapski, a Marquette architect with the firm Sanders & Czapski Associates, and a member of the board of directors of MHPN, said, “This event is going to bring individuals from across the state and northern Wisconsin, people who are interested or are already in historic preservation, and that can be in a variety of ways.”
That might include being the owner of an older home, a government official, a building contractor interested in restoring a house or someone involved in economics and tourism, Czapski said.
For example, the sessions include “White Elephants: Community Liability to Asset” and “Ingredients from This Place: U.P. Building Materials.”
Marquette contractor Gregg Seiple, who has been restoring old homes for more than a quarter of a century, will give an off-site presentation at his house on the corner of Cedar and Michigan streets, which was built in 1882.
Seiple, who bought the home in 2007, considers it a “work in progress.” Still, he’s willing to share what he knows with people interested in restoring older properties.
“I kind of know what’s right and what’s not right,” Seiple said.
He finds people are having a lot of work done in ways that are inappropriate for the style and character of the home, noting there’s “a big difference between remodeling and restoration.”
Nancy Finegood, MHPN executive director, said, “Everything from the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s 2010 Distinctive Destination designation to the selection of the historic Peter White Public 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.”
The conference will look at how historic preservation interprets “place” and safeguards a variety of resources that capture great historical moments but more often the small moments of everyday life, according to the MHPN.
Five educational tracks on Thursday and Friday will showcase projects reflecting the conference theme, look at the skills and tools of historic preservation, study hands-on techniques, present tours and highlight the MHPN partners’ work with archaeology and barns.
Saturday morning will feature two sessions on underwater archaeology and the role of archaeology in community planning as well as a two-part program on building codes, maintenance and lead hazards.
The MHPN’s Preservation Awards will highlight Friday evening.
Area residents are invited to a free Thursday evening Vendors’ Showcase of preservation goods and services and to see a scale-model timber-frame barn erected.
Also free and open to the public is the keynote presentation Friday by author Kathryn Bishop Eckert, who will discuss “Recognizing the Ingredients at Hand,” including the important role preservation-worthy “ingredients” such as an intact downtown of interesting shops and strong historic neighborhoods can benefit a community’s economic vitality.
To learn more about the conference, download the brochure at www.mhpn.org or call (517) 371-8080, or email email@example.com
Costs are $70.00 to $390.00 with special pricing for members, single days and students, and some sessions are free and open to the public.