The Michigan Historic Preservation Network (MHPN) was pleased to bring its 35th annual statewide conference to the City of Midland. Over 370 participants gathered at Northwood University on May 13-16. Drawn by the theme “Always Seeking Modern,” participants were enthusiastic about meeting in the city that was home to Alden B. Dow, Michigan’s Architect Laureate, and today offers one of the nation’s most impressive concentrations of Modern architecture by Dow, Francis E. “Red” Warner, Jackson B. Hallett, Robert E. Schwartz, and others.
In addition to the five tracks of sessions and tours, there were many special events. Wednesday’s “Great Michigan Road Trips” provided guided travel in the region for 78 participants who either ventured into Gladwin, Clare, and Isabella Counties to study rural preservation, or around the Bay Region counties of Midland, Bay, and Saginaw to study preservation-based revitalization. Thursday, which drew 184 registrants, included a “Town and Gown” Welcome Lunch featuring Midland’s Mayor Maureen Donker and Northwood President Keith Pretty; the MHPN’s 2015 scholarship recipients were introduced.
Friday’s 219 registrants included 143 participants who gathered to hear Keynote Speaker Alan Hess, architect and architecture critic for the San Jose Mercury News, who contextualized Michigan’s primacy to America’s Mid-Century Modern design. The day closed with 129 awardees and guests celebrating the MHPN’s Annual Preservation Awards. On Saturday, the MHPN was delighted to work with Michigan’s State Historic Preservation Office to present a full-day symposium titled “Michigan Modern: Design that Shaped America.”
Midland’s gathering was the MHPN’s third largest among the MHPN’s 35 annual conferences held in 24 different communities. (Note: Flint in 2012 with 389 participants and Marquette in 2013 with 382 are the first and second, respectively.) Thirty-six of Michigan’s 83 counties – or 43% – were represented in Midland with the top five counties being Midland, Ingham, Wayne, Washtenaw, and Oakland. Just over 5% of the audience came from out-of-state. Many participants tapped the 75 hours of continuing education credits offered by the American Institute of Architecture and the American Institute of Certified Planners. The conference bought almost $114,000 into the City, a total augmented by people who stayed at other than the conference hotels, went out for dinner, enjoyed a nightcap, or “Made it a Midland Weekend” that included shopping and sightseeing.
“The Michigan Historic Preservation Network warmly thanks the community of Midland and Northwood University for their hospitality, the State Historic Preservation Office and the Alden B. Dow Home and Studio for their close working partnership, the Rollin M. Gerstacker Foundation for its generous financial support, and the many Midland residents who served on the Conference Planning Committee, made presentations, led tours, and welcomed our participants to their city,” stated conference organizers.