PRESERVING VIRGINIA PARK Examining Urbanization and Segregation in Detroit

Gesell, Caroline, Architectural History - School of Architecture, University of Virginia
Crane, Sheila, University of Virginia
Sewell, Jessica, University of Virginia
Lavelle-Tulla, Brittany

This thesis focuses on the Virginia Park neighborhood of Detroit and how the processes of urban renewal and the Detroit Riot of 1967 make a case for Virginia Park to be recognized as a significant historic site. Furthermore, it will examine the methodology of current preservation practices and the criteria required for a building, landscape, or district to be listed as a historic site. As a preservationist myself, I recognize that impactful work has been and will continue to be done to document our nation’s buildings, landscapes, and neighborhoods. However, the inability for current preservation practices to adequately recognize sites that do not readily fit within the Secretary of Interior Standards does the field a major disservice. The opportunities to explore the multi-layered narratives for places such as the Virginia Park neighborhood in Detroit offer a future of urban equality. Virginia Park is a specific case that offers insight into the patterns of urban renewal and Black community that play a major role in not only the history of Detroit, but also across the country. By discussing the history of urban renewal in Detroit, its formative effects can be seen through this neighborhood transformation and what impact that had on the communities involved. My motivation for this work stems from my connection to Detroit, growing up in one of its suburbs of Grosse Pointe, and my passion to represent a city I believe deserves more recognition.

MARH (Master of Architectural History)
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