This article was sent in the June 2017 Michigan Architectural Foundation (MAF) newsletter. We share it here to celebrate MAF and their Build Imagination book collection for children.
"You could say the roots of the Michigan Architectural Foundation go back as far as the fur trade. The Michigan Society of Architects formed the MAF in 1957 to save the Biddle House, a Mackinac Island fur trader's home dating back to the 18th century. "The organization saw an important artifact that was in dire need of repair," explains MAF Vice President Tom Mathison. Saving the house became the catalyst, he notes, to establish the Foundation as the Society's fundraising arm.
Thanks to the Grand Rapids Historical Society for inviting our own Tom Mathison, along with Gene Hopkins from HopkinsBurns to discuss the story of transforming the historic Federal Building to the Woodbridge Ferris Building in downtown Grand Rapids.
The Western Michigan Federal District Court was created by act of Congress in late 1863. But it was not until 1872 that efforts to build a federal courthouse started. Site selection was in 1873, and Congress appropriated $70,000 for the site. The site required a lot of filling because it was partially in a low, swampy area. Excavation for the foundation was finally completed in 1876, and the building was completed in 1879 for $212,000. The first court session was held on October 7 of that year. This courthouse served well for about twenty years, when the growth of the district and the growth of the agency staffs in the building demanded more space. Finally, in 1909, the red brick building was demolished. …/p>