City of Royal Oak receives Certified Local Government status to support historic preservation activities

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Certification provides state and federal technical assistance, eligibility for historic preservation grants

McDowall House, locally designated in May 2007

LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), part of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, announced today that the city of Royal Oak in Oakland County has been accepted to the Certified Local Government (CLG) program, following confirmation from the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior.

“Royal Oak is home to an active Historic District Commission and Historic District Study Committee that have worked for nearly thirty years to protect and celebrate important sites in the community,” said Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer Martha MacFarlane-Faes. “We are excited to welcome the City of Royal Oak to the CLG program and look forward to partnering with the city on its ongoing historic preservation activities.”

The Certified Local Government program is a partnership among local, state, and national governments focused on promoting historic preservation at the local level. The National Park Service administers the program in coordination with the State Historic Preservation Office. Certification makes the City of Royal Oak eligible for specialized technical assistance and programming from the SHPO.

Participation in the CLG program also makes the community eligible for federal grants provided by the U.S. Department of the Interior and administered by the SHPO. These grants may be used for a variety of preservation activities, such as historic resource surveys, National Register of Historic Places nominations, educational and heritage tourism initiatives, pre-development plans and studies, and rehabilitation of certain historic properties.

“The decision to pursue CLG status was driven by a desire to tap into available expertise and financial resources to update historic resource surveys, receive training, and educate residents on the value of historic preservation, thereby encouraging more thoughtful and purposeful historic preservation planning,” said Historic District Study Committee chair Tammis Donaldson and Secretary Leslie Snow in a joint statement. “We hope that CLG status will help support Royal Oak’s efforts to highlight its history, draw in new residents and visitors, and generate pride in its unique sites.”

As noted by Donaldson and Snow, the first land tracts in Royal Oak, Michigan date back to 1820, when Royal Oak was just a village. The City of Royal Oak was incorporated in 1921. In 1994, Royal Oak established a Historic District Study Committee to provide for the establishment of historic districts in carrying out the public purpose of historic preservation in the City, consistent with the State of Michigan Local Historic Districts Act. As of 2022, the HDSC has helped acquire designation for 14 commercial and residential properties in Royal Oak.

Royal Oak joins a growing network of more than 2,000 Certified Local Governments across the country, including 37 other Michigan communities. There is no cost to participate in the program, but communities must meet certain requirements. Participating communities must have a local historic district ordinance and appoint a historic district commission to review proposed work in locally designated historic districts. CLGs must also encourage public participation in the local historic preservation program and seek ways to identify, protect, and celebrate important historic resources in their community.

About the State Historic Preservation Office
Focused on the historic preservation of culturally or archaeologically significant sites throughout the state, Michigan's State Historic Preservation Office’s main function is to provide technical assistance to local communities and property owners in their efforts to identify, evaluate, designate, interpret and protect Michigan’s historic above- and below-ground resources. SHPO also administers an incentives program that includes federal tax credits and pass-through grants available to Certified Local Governments.

To learn more about the State Historic Preservation Office and the Certified Local Government program, visit

About Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is the state’s marketing arm and lead advocate for business development, job awareness and community development with the focus on growing Michigan’s economy. For more information on the MEDC and our initiatives, visit For Pure Michigan® tourism information, your trip begins at Join the conversation on: Facebook Instagram LinkedIn, and Twitter.