Historical Society receives $75,000 grant for Gordon Hall

The front of the historic Gordon Hall, 8341 Island Lake Rd. in Dexter, on Dec. 18 following the removal of most of the Christmas decorations.

Dexter’s Gordon Hall will soon be getting a facelift thanks to a $75,000 grant from the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office.

The grant will help the Dexter Area Historical Society upgrade the 172-year-old building’s exterior including replacing the back deck, which isn’t original to the building, and updating the home’s columns and aluminum siding.

Historical Society member Beverly Hill, who helped to write the grant, said this is the first round of work to be done on the building since the organization paid off it’s $1.5 million mortgage. The 9,900-square foot home was bought from the University of Michigan in 2005.

The grant process was an intense one, Hill said. The application itself was around 120 pages when finished.

“We’ve written a number of grants but never any this detailed,” she said. “So many people that helped.”

The grant does come with two caveats: The Historical Society must raise $50,000 to complement the grant and get the work done and the work must be finished within a year.

To help raise those funds, the Historical Society sells annual raffle tickets. First place winners receive $10,000 and the drawing is held during Dexter Daze on Aug. 15. Society members have been selling raffle tickets through several downtown businesses as well as at the Farmer’s Market each Saturday.

The annual Civil War Days event also helps fundraise for the Historical Society, which is set for June 12-14 this year.

Weddings are also hosted at Gordon Hall, and the rental fees also help fund current and future renovations.

The Dexter Area Historical Society is run solely on volunteers. Hill said the passion and dedication to preserving the history of Dexter drives the society.

“All of us believe in Gordon Hall so we don’t mind putting in the hours and hours,” she said. “We still have all those people who are working constantly. They’re always doing something. People are always there working.”

Gordon Hall was built in 1843 and was the home of the city’s founder, Judge Samuel William Dexter. It’s stood as a symbol of the Dexter area’s history, Hill said.

“It seems like it’s a community center,” she said. “It’s sort of the foundation of Dexter. I think people really like hearing about the history. I think that’s coming back, that people value history. It’s just the atmosphere that people really enjoy.”

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