New Oakland Township fellowship offers EMU historic preservation students hands-on experience in local government preservation efforts

Additional internships, fellowships prepare students for professional positions

by Pamela Young, Published June 24, 2014

YPSILANTI –The Charter Township of Oakland’s rich 196-year history will be at the forefront due to a partnership with Eastern Michigan University.

EMU’s historic preservation program and the Oakland County township have developed a graduate fellowship designed to help teach students about preservation planning in the governmental arena.

Historic Cranberry Lake Farmhouse

One fellow will be selected for the inaugural program that starts in early July and runs through December 15. The student will, among other projects, help to develop a master historic landscape plan and a site plan for Cranberry Lake Farm Historic District in Oakland Township. The 16-acre historic site is adjacent to the 213-acre Cranberry Lake Park, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Oakland Township will donate $2,500 and EMU will kick in another $2,500 toward the student’s tuition.

“This is a win-win opportunity,” said Barbara Barber, the township’s historic preservationist and a 2012 graduate of EMU’s program. “It’s a great opportunity for the student to learn first-hand about historic preservation planning in a local government office.”

This fellowship is a hands-on planning position, that will prepare students for the real world, said Ted Ligibel, EMU professor and director of the historic preservation program.

Additional fellowship duties will include:

  • Working with the township to meet Certified Local Government (CLG) credentials in order to tap into specific grant money. The CLG is an official recognition that a government has historic preservation and designation legislation in place and that the preservation activities are ongoing.
  • Supporting the township’s historic preservation communications by developing online materials, updating the web site, writing media releases and researching grants.
  • Contributing to the 40th anniversity celebration of the Oakland Township Historical Society by involving the community in designing an historic-themed lawn quilt, made of 2x2 plywood squares. The lawn quilt will be on display at Cranberry Lake Farm July 18  and a September event at the farm, as well as on exhibit at the Paint Creek Mill in Goodison, Mich. during the fall cider season.

 Ligibel noted that Eastern’s historic preservation program is in “record territory for placements.”

 “We’re looking at the bigger picture by adding more applied learning opportunities to the historic preservation program,” Ligibel said. “We’re also developing better internships and fellowships, such as with Oakland Township. Eastern’s students are learning from doing and this prepares them for a professional position.”

Additional fellowships and activities in the historic preservation program include:

  • Working with the city of Monroe on historic district site visits, organizing meeting materials and meeting with officials. The goal is to have the City of Monroe Historic District Commission members look at the 21st century and decide how to position themselves. Students have also worked to raise awareness about the importance of the historic 1812 River Raisin Battlefield in Monroe.
  • Partnering with the Michigan Historical Center to continue its work at the historic Mann House in Concord, Mich. Students are dealing with the challenges of working at a historic facility by doing research, cataloging artifacts and updating the site tour for visitors.
  • An Eastern Michigan historic preservation student will have the chance to study elements, such as the lifestyle, landscape and design, of two of the country’s most important historic estates – Fairlane, the Henry Ford Estate in Dearborn and the Edsel & Eleanor Ford House in Grosse Pointe Shores - under a new research fellowship. The fellowship, a partnership between EMU and the Historic Ford Estates, offers a stipend from the sponsor and tuition support from EMU for the academic year, beginning this fall. Fellows will spend two consecutive semesters researching one of a variety of topics that fits the area of study and emphasis of the student. Fellows will also participate in the larger Historic Ford Estates community to gain an understanding of the daily operations of a world-class historic site.

Eastern Michigan’s historic preservation program is the largest and one of the oldest in the nation.

For more information on the EMU historic preservation program, visit


Pamela Young

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