Preservation Lansing is accepting nominations for 2017 awards

History lines the streets of Lansing in the form of buildings constructed in an era past. Today, those remnants, and the work done to maintain their original glory, is celebrated by Preservation Lansing, a group dedicated to honoring classic architecture.

The group has begun to accept nominations for its Preservation Lansing 2017 Awards, held on Oct. 18. Nominations must be structures 50 years or older, with work done on the buildings in the last five years. The work must also adhere to the U.S. Interior Secretary’s Standards for Rehabilitation. The nomination form is below.

Architects will judge based on how closely nominees kept the structure to its original form, using architectural details as clues. Dale Schrader, who is president of Preservation Lansing, said that “attention to detail” is key.

“These days it’s kind of convenient for people to just put siding on things and then take off all the decorative trim,” said Schrader. “We’d be looking at the duration of those types of details on a preservation. Things like original brick, original paint colors; things like that, but especially the windows and the decorative trim.”

Nominations can be either residential or commercial, though Schrader enjoys the preservation of homes the most.

“We really like to get them from residential homeowners that have taken care on a small project to preserve their house,” Schrader said.

Past winners include the Knapp’s Centre, Marshall Street Armory and Heidi Johnson’s work on a house at 425 N. Jenison Ave., Lansing.

“When we were told we were being nominated, we were like, ‘What?’ That wasn’t what we were doing it for,” said Johnson. “It was really gratifying to have somebody notice that we were trying to take care of a house and keep the historical character of it.”

Johnson took care in her Westside Neighborhood project to maintain the original siding, windows and front door of the home, which dates back to 1929.

Schrader said he believes the old buildings of Lansing are what make the city great, as opposed to the newer, more modern additions.

“If you look at some of the areas that are the ‘cool areas’ of town, and you ask yourself, ‘Why are they cool? What do people like about that?’ It’s the old buildings,” said Schrader. “If it was just a new area with sided buildings and strip malls, no one would think it was special.”

One of Schrader’s goals is to educate the public about Lansing’s historical significance by fostering awareness.

“We formed originally to honor preservation efforts and advocate for Lansing’s build history,” said Schrader. “We’ve gotten into a lot more advocacy, and sometimes that creates a negative perception. It creates a lot of negativity because there’s two sides to this argument.” The two sides Schrader refers to are those who prefer the preservation of the past and those who advocate for a modern look to the city.

Schrader said he often hears arguments in favor of tearing down the buildings Preservation Lansing fights to retain.

Currently, Schrader said there are at least four buildings in danger of demolition in Lansing: Moores Park Pool and Pavilion, Cooley-Haze House, Walter French Academy and Eastern High School.

“There’s a lot of things like asbestos and lead abatement that are used as tools for demolition,” said Schrader. “You really don’t have to be afraid of that. It’s only when you disturb the asbestos or lead that it’s hazardous. The one thing that does disturb it is demolition.”

Schrader said the award is a dose of positivity to counterbalance the negatives. “This is a positive thing honoring people that have done the right thing,” said Schrader. “We have to have a balance on both sides. Sometimes we’ll stand up against something and sometimes we honor those that have done something good.”

Past hosts to the Preservation Lansing award ceremony have been Genesee School, Eastern High School, R.E. Olds Transportation Museum and La Fille Gallery. This year, the event will take place at the Robin Theatre, which is currently experiencing a resurgence of preservation, according to Schrader. City Pulse editor and publisher Berl Schwartz will emcee the event.

Nomination forms are available on lansingcitypulse.com, on preservationlansing.org and on this page.