Community Include

Historic District Survey

 RFP Historic District Survey
 RFP Questions and Answers
 RFP Bid Results – Information Only

The City of Northville is embarking on an intensive-level survey to uncover new information about the historical features and architectural attributes of up to 343 houses and other buildings in the City of Northville’s Historic District, which encompasses some 144 acres (see map). It’s the first study of its kind in 45 years, when a partial survey of 61 historic structures in the district was conducted.

Funding for a portion of the survey is being arranged through a grant from the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), with the remainder being funded by the City.

Why is a survey needed?

Historic Home
Home on W. Dunlap Street.                                                        Photo by Liz Cezat

It will uncover new historical data and will provide a basis for local planning. Results will be used to complete a new National Register of Historic Places nomination to update the data in the federal register. The results of the survey will become a permanent record for the City, state and federal government, and will be accessible to the public in a digital format on the City’s website. Reports and digital information will also be provided to the Northville Historical Society for their records at Mill Race Village, and the Northville District Library.

A historic survey was last done in 1972, when the tools and techniques used to survey historic districts were rudimentary, compared to today’s detailed and defined reports. As a result, there are gaps in:

  • Completeness – Only 61 of 343 existing properties in the district have been studied to any extent.

  • Historical significance – The era of each property has not been sufficiently recorded.

  • Missing link – The Historic District encompasses both commercial and residential properties. The 1972 survey didn’t include any commercial, industrial or institutional buildings, which also have historic significance. This study will include those buildings. Individually and collectively, the study will help define the historic distinctions of neighborhoods and the commercial district.

  • The Historic District doesn’t know what it doesn’t know – When changes are proposed to unstudied resources, recommendations concerning the property may be skewed due to unknown facts. Knowing what historic elements constitute the property and their historical significance are important metrics.

  • Local Historic District Study Committee Report – A new Local Historic District Study Committee Report will be created. This document will illustrate, in an easy-to-use format, relevant information about various historic properties in the district. Further, it will describe the district and explain why it is significant and unique.

  • Improve preservation of Northville’s historic resources - Having historic information about principal and accessory buildings – whether residential, commercial, institutional or industrial - will help educate the property owner and the community of the relevance of these features, and guide decision-making about how to preserve or modify the structure.

How will the survey be conducted, what will be reported?

A historic architect will be retained to conduct the study.  Properties that are less than 40 years old will be identified, and their date of construction noted. Properties that are more than 40 years old will be researched as described below in the “Level of Research” section.

The types of properties that will be included in the survey are houses and grounds, public buildings (schools and churches), commercial buildings (downtown), parks, factories/mill complexes, and utility structures.

Level of Research

Historic Home
This historic home on N. Wing Street houses Angela Carson photography.

The intensive-level survey methodologies will follow the procedures in SHPO’s Manual for Historical and Architectural Surveys in Michigan, and will include field work, research, evaluation and preparing the report.

The historic architect will conduct field surveys on all properties. Property records will be kept in a database. Each property will be photographed per the standards for electronic images. The surveyed properties will be mapped in a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) program, and a survey form (Appendix C of the SHPO Survey Manual) will be completed for each historic property provided.

The City has developed a Request for Proposals (RFP), inviting historic architects to submit a proposal to conduct the study and prepare the necessary documents. The RFP appears at the top of this web page. The deadline for responses is Sept 5, 2017 by 12 p.m.

No research beyond the date of construction will be conducted for any properties less than 40 years old unless significant history is easily identified for the property. For properties more than 40 years old, the research will start with the existing information provided in the original survey, and will be upgraded to intensive level for all buildings and features. Research will include use of early maps, directories, tax assessor records, and the collection available at Mill Race Village, Northville’s Historic Park and information repository.

Each surveyed property will then be evaluated for historic significance, based on the National Register of Historic Places Criteria for Evaluation. This determines which resources are historic (contribute) to the district.

The survey report will be drafted, providing a summary of the project, recommendations resulting from the survey, a narrative description of the survey area, and historical significance statement for the district that includes identified historic contexts. A map of the district showing contributing and non-contributing resources will be produced. The completed survey forms will be included in the survey report. An Excel spreadsheet of the properties surveyed by street address and number, that includes the date of construction, architectural style, and eligibility determination, will be included as an appendix in the report. The survey report will be reviewed and approved by the State Historic Preservation Office.

Selection of a Historic Architect

The survey will be conducted by a historic architect that has specialized training in identifying and researching historic structures, and preparing the survey reports per the federal guidelines. The City has developed a Request for Proposals (RFP), inviting historic architects to submit a proposal to conduct the study and prepare the necessary documents. The Request for Proposals may be accessed at the top of this page. The deadline for responses is Sept 5, 2017 by 12 p.m.

Creation of a Study Committee

The City will establish a local historic district study committee, comprised of various members of the community including a member of the Historic District Commission, Northville Historical Society, architects, representatives of community organizations, residents and property owners in the Historic District, and residents at large. The study committee will work with the historic architect during the study and preparation of the reports.

Project Timeframe

In the coming months, the City will select a historic architect consultant and establish a study committee (see description above). Property owners will receive letters explaining the survey and field study, and be invited to a kickoff meeting. The consultant will conduct the historic resource survey (field work) and prepare report drafts once the survey work has been completed. Public meetings will be held at the beginning, middle and end of the process for resident input.

Public Input

The project will include several public information meetings to keep residents informed and involved in the survey. The first will be an informational meeting before the survey begins; the second will present a preliminary draft of the survey report and ask for feedback. Based on this input, the survey report will be revised and presented as a final document during a third meeting. That meeting will be a public hearing (e.g. City Council meeting) at which time, the City Council will hear from residents about the final draft before voting on it.


The City has created this web page to inform residents and property owners about the scope of the survey, and provide status updates. The City will also publicize the survey through:

  • City News, online weekly newsletter

  • Northville Matters, quarterly print publication, which is mailed to all residents

  • Media relations – The City will send out timely press releases to educate the media, and ultimately the public, about the study, needed feedback, and report results.

Questions About the Survey

During the survey process, if you have questions about the survey, please email Questions will be collected and answers posted on this page on a periodic basis.

Main Street home
128 E. Main Street
Old Village School District
405 W. Main Street - Old Village School