Century Houses Book – 2006
Bloomfield Township Public Library
A couple of years after the Bloomfield Historical Society (BHS) was formed Joan Case who worked in the Township Assessor’s Department presented us with a list of all of the houses in the Township that were built prior to 1906 – Century Houses. There were 41 houses on the list. Many of these were originally farmhouses that were built in the mid-19th century. Of course many have been significantly modified and updated over the years. The list did not include any houses that are within the boundaries of Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, or Pontiac.
Over several months following the receipt of the list I went about locating and photographing each generally from the street. I did locate all of the houses but the photos vary greatly in quality. The next step was to mark the location of each house on a Map of the Township. For this I used the 1908 atlas, knowing that each should be identified on that map. With the excellent help of BHS member, Lanie Tobin, we filled out as much as we could about each house on a Historic House Questionnaire. The partial list of owners of each house was prepared by Lanie by consulting the several township maps from 1857 through 1930.
Lanie and I also made a trip to the Archives of Michigan to obtain the Rural Property Inventory sheets on almost all of the houses. These RPI sheets were prepared in 1938 by “surveyors” hired as part of a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project to provide meaningful work during the Depression.
The above material along with a few more in depth items of documentation was first compile into a large 3-ring note book and place in the Local History Archives at the BTPL. Then in 2017 all of the material in the binder was scanned by a BTPL staff member, printed, and bound into a hard cover book which is housed in the Local History section of the Library. The book can be viewed by requesting it from a reference Librarian or, if you prefer, it can be viewed on the BTPL website by following: Research > Local History > Buildings of Historic Interest > Century Houses.
It is sad to note that 4 or 5 of these century houses have since been demolished, but at least their memory in preserved in the book.
By: John F. Marshall, Long-time Township Resident and member of the Bloomfield Historical Society
Bloomfield Township E-News presents History Next Door: Century Houses from Bloomfield Township 2 on Vimeo.