National Theatre Dec. 2013

  • This page was started by the Detroit Sound Conservancy to gather information and best practices on historic preservation. The DSC is currently creating a triage list of still existing / most endangered sites. See the bottom of the page for our recommendations so far.
  • You can see the Detroit Sound Historical Landmarks Committee official page via the DSC  here.
  • This page is monitored for accuracy and style by the DSC. If you have questions or comments please email us at detroitsoundconservancyATgmail.com


How to Start

If you think a building might have some interesting musical history -- or know that is does but do not know the buildings' status -- here are some ideas for how to proceed:

  • Find out as much as you can about the building.
    • Burton Historical Collection: The Burton has a photo index, a local history index, and (some) permits. It is a great place to start ANY kind of historical research on Detroit.
  • Learn who the owner is.
  • Ask: is it already on the national register? If so, maybe some of your work has been done!
    • National Register property listings via Wikipedia.
  • Who are the groups that might be interested in the past, present, future of the building?
  • When you've done all that you MIGHT being the historical preservation process. But first...

What NOT To Do

Study failures and mistakes from the past so you don't repeat them if you can help it. For instance:

  • Do not BLINDSIDE the owner (or their congregation) if you can help it.
    • Grande Ballroom is not being preserved today, despite the best efforts of preservationists, in part because the congregation of the church that owns the building was not aware of the work of preservationists until it came up at a local designation meeting.
  • Preserve the building BEFORE someone wants to make a parking lot
  • Talk to the company that's associated with the building BEFORE they decide to skip town
  • Preserve and organize around the building BEFORE someone to decides to build a highway through it.
  • KNOW that even historically designated buildings can be torn down illegally in the middle of the night.
  • FINALLY: There is NEVER a guarantee. Detroit has had properties that were designated demolished over the years.  In the historic residential districts, the current vacancy and abandonment issues have caused the demolition of many designated properties. So...

What TO Do

Take a deep breath. This process may take anywhere from six months to who knows. But take heart! Every chance to organize people for a worthy goal is a great chance to organize. In addition, there have been successes in the past that we can learn and take courage from. For instance:


Detroit Process for Historic Designation

There are 5 (five) steps to nominating a property in Detroit:

  1. The Property Owner.
  2. The City of Detroit Historic District Commission - the Historic Designation Advisory Board
    1. Read the ordinance that applies here.
    2. Take a look at some HDAB Final Reports here.
  3. The Mayor.
  4. State of Michigan - State Historic Preservation Office
  5. The National Park Service - National Register of Historic Places
  6. National Park Service - Landmark Process

State of Michigan Historical Markers, The National Register of Historic Places and the National Historic Marker program are three separate programs each with its own requirements and timelines. Do not confuse the three.

State Historic Marker Process

National Register Process

National Landmark Process

Potential Allies -- Reach Out

Helpful Links

Sound Landmark Research


Pages tagged “endangered sound”