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

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

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

LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) announced today that the city of Pontiac 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.

“The city of Pontiac has worked diligently in the last several years to strengthen its historic preservation program and find additional ways to recognize and celebrate the city’s history,” said Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer Martha MacFarlane-Faes. “We are excited to welcome the City of Pontiac to the CLG program and look forward to working alongside the city to build on its 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 Pontiac 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 historic districts in Pontiac showcase the rich history and prominence that exist in the city of Pontiac,” said City Planner Donovan Smith, who led the effort to become a CLG. “The Certified Local Government designation will greatly support the growth and preservation of our historic neighborhoods and the residents that live and work within them.”

Modern Housing Historic District, Pontiac

Founded in 1818 and incorporated as a city in 1861, Pontiac grew during the nineteenth century following the arrival of the railroad, which supported growth of the downtown and the rise of industry. Woolen and grist mills were established along the Clinton River, and the city also became home to several prominent carriage manufacturing companies. The latter set the stage for the evolution of the automobile industry during the twentieth century, which fueled continued growth and development through the mid-century.

Today, the city’s history is reflected in its numerous local historic districts, including the Pontiac Commercial District, Modern Housing District, Fairgrove Historic District, and Franklin Boulevard Historic District. Several of these districts are also listed in the National Register of Historic Places, as are individual sites such as Casa del Rey Apartments, Central School, Eagle Theater, Oak Hill Cemetery, and Elmer R. Webster School.

Pontiac joins a growing network of more than 2,000 Certified Local Governments across the country, including 38 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

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