From Caryl Burke
Dexter’s Gordon Hall is the recipient of a $75,000 grant to develop the plans and specifications needed to renovate the interior of the hall. The Certified Local Government Grant was awarded to Washtenaw County and the Dexter Area Historical Society (DAHS) by the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) on July 17, 2018.
The total cost of the project will be $125,000, with 60% provided by the grant and 40% provided by DAHS. “Once we have these plans and specifications, we will be able to begin to do some work inside Gordon Hall. We’d like to renovate one room quickly, so everyone can see and be inspired by this beautiful building and its history,” said Beverly Hill, President of DAHS.
Gordon Hall is the grand Greek Revival house on a hill overlooking Dexter from the west. Built in 1843 by Judge Samuel Dexter, it has watched over 175 years of Dexter’s growth and development. Today, it stands as a symbol of the community and one of Dexter’s defining locales.
The Dexter family occupied it until about the 1900, and after a series of owners, it was nearly
abandoned and in rough shape by the 1930s. In 1940 it was acquired by Katharine Dexter McCormick, granddaughter of Samuel. She set about working with Emil Lorch, professor emeritus of the University of Michigan (UofM) School of Architecture, to restore the home where she had been born.
In 1950, she donated the house to UofM, who converted the interior into four modern apartments. DAHS plans to reverse that conversion, restoring the house to its original interior configuration, and this grant will provide the plans and specifications needed to begin that work.
DAHS acquired Gordon Hall from the UofM in 2006. In the fall of 2014, we burned the mortgage from that purchase after receiving many donations from the community including a large donation from Wally Fusilier.
In 2016, a grant from SHPO paid for the removal of aluminum siding from the building
and to restore the west porch to its original configuration. Grants from the Dexter Lions Club and the Rotary Club of Dexter funded the removal of about 1000 linear feet of asbestos pipe wrap from the basement. The Dexter Lions Club also funded construction of a handicap ramp on the north side of the building.
DAHS and its many volunteers and donors are keeping Gordon Hall in tip top shape and dreaming of the day when we can open the building fully to the community. It is our goal to complete that transformation in time for Dexter’s bicentennial in 2024.
If the story of Gordon Hall intrigues you, this is just a taste. Learn more at dexterhistory.org or email the Dexter Area Historical Society at firstname.lastname@example.org.You can also visit the Dexter Area Museum at 3443 Inverness in Dexter. The Museum is open Fridays and Saturdays from 1-3pm.