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Ypsilanti, MI, May 22, 2017: The City of Ypsilanti and the Friends of the Ypsilanti Freighthouse were awarded a joint Michigan Historic Preservation Network (MHPN) Government/Institution Award for the Restoration of the Ypsilanti Freighthouse at the Annual MHPN Conference this past Friday, May 19, 2017 in Petoskey, MI. The award is presented to agencies, cities and/or institutions who by their actions have accomplished significant positive changes in the historic preservation climate and activities which have made a significant contribution to the preservation of Michigan’s heritage. The award applications were evaluated for the degree to which they adhered to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties, made a positive impact on historic preservation in its community or the State as a whole; and affected other communities, projects or individuals; and if the project had been deemed a success locally and/or statewide.
The Ypsilanti Freighthouse was built in 1878 and is located in the City’s Depot Town area. The Freighthouse was used for railroad freight operations until 1959. In 1979 the Freighthouse was purchased by the City and utilized as a community center; hosting farmer’s markets, weddings, civic meetings, and other events. In 2004, the Freighthouse was closed due to structural issues. With the City uncertain of the future of the historic structure, a group of citizens that made up the Friends of the Ypsilanti Freighthouse (FOYF) stepped up to protect the Freighthouse and encourage renovation.
In the years since the closure, the City and the FOYF have worked to restore the structure with the aim to reopen the structure as an events space. Work completed since the closure included electrical and masonry repair work, foundation repair, gutter and downspout installation, painting, water remediation and the installation of a rain garden. The failing asphalt roof was replaced with a more historically appropriate metal roof and the deck on the west side that had disappeared over the years was reinstalled. The most recent stages of construction included the installation of solar panels along with plumbing connections, fire suppression and restrooms.
The Ypsilanti Freighthouse stands as a reminder of a time when the train dominated how American’s travelled and how they received goods. The reuse of the structure as a community and events space back in 1979 speaks to the City and it is resident’s commitment to the preservation of a structure that has been a landmark in the Depot Town section of the City for over one-hundred years.
Today, the Ypsilanti Freighthouse is once again available for use by the community as an events space. When asked about the reopening of the structure, the City’s Director Economic Development, Beth Ernat stated, “This event space provides a historic setting for many resident and civic group meetings, a lovely and desirable wedding venue, and a perfect marketplace for vendors to showcase their wares. The community has waited a long time to once again enjoy this piece of Ypsilanti history.”
The City of Ypsilanti has 20,000 residents, spans 4.5 square miles, and is known for its rich history, Huron River parks, and as the home of Eastern Michigan University. The City’s mission is to work creatively and collaboratively to enhance the natural and built environment so that its population grows and thrives. To keep up with City of Ypsilanti information, subscribe for email updates, and follow us on Twitter or on Facebook.