Heritage Hill is a testament to what concerned and thoughtful citizens can accomplish when they band together to make their voices heard. One of the largest historic districts in the nation, comprised of 1,300 homes dating back to 1848, the neighborhood faced severe danger of being destroyed by urban renewal in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Determined residents living in Heritage Hill at the time were able to preserve the neighborhood by forming a non-profit Association, securing national historic status and becoming the first organization in the country to invoke the National Historic Preservation Act. After stopping the wreckingballs at the district's boundary and setting a precedent for historic preservation in the U.S., Heritage Hill has been extensively restored to its original glory.
Although a significant number of homes in Heritage Hill were constructed by the lumber barons who made their fortunes in the Grand Rapids furniture industry during its peak between 1870 and 1910, many were also built by judges, lawyers, merchants and other influencial and wealthy early city residents. Three self-guided walking tours (North, Central and South) highlight 76 of the most important properties, two which are open to the public, the Voigt House Victorian Museum and the Meyer May House. The French Chateau-themed home located at 115 College SE was built in 1895 for the Voigt Family, owners of two flour mills. Now a museum operated by the Grand Rapids Public Museum, the house contains displays of the family's original Victorian belongings. A few blocks east, the Meyer May House at 450 Madison SE was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in the prarie style for the founder of the May's of Michigan clothing store and completed in 1905. In total, 60 architectural styles can be found in Heritage Hill including Queen Anne, Italiante, Shingle, Gothic Revival, Greek Revival and Chateauesque.
Each year, on the first weekend of October, Heritage Hill hosts a home tour during which approximately ten homes are opened to the public, including private residences. Visitors can begin the tour at any house and view the properties in any order. Tickets are priced around $15 for adults and kids under 12 are free. In addition, the Association website features a searchable catalogue that contains photos, documents and bits of history on nearly every property.
126 College Ave SE Grand Rapids MI 49503