Northville Township has its first historic district.
Thayer’s Corners, a small hamlet located at Six Mile and Napier roads, received that designation Thursday as the result of a unanimous vote of the Township’s Board of Trustees. A six-member committee of the Historic District Commission presented a detailed report for approval.
“I think it was exceptionally well done,” said Northville Township Trustee and Historic District Commission Chair Marjorie Banner. “It’s the first step in preserving and protecting that littler corner of our history.”
The new historic district is highlighted by the Thayer Schoolhouse and a cemetery holding approximately 450 gravesites dating back to 1830. Thayer’s Corners is bounded by Napier on the west, Six Mile on the south, a heavily wooded area to the north and open fields on the east.
“Not only are these buildings historic,” said committee chair Daniel Schneider, who also works as a historical architect with the State Historic Preservation Office in Lansing, “but we wanted to help the community show why they’re important to the township as a whole.”
Thayer’s Corner’s was a rural farming community, according to the committee’s report. The area was named for Vermont-transplant Rufus Thayer, Jr., who purchased the land in the late 1820s and early 1830s. His family occupied and farmed the land into the 20th Century.
The report notes that the residents of Thayer’s Corners were prosperous financially and ran blacksmith shops saw and grist mills aside from farming. Rufus Thayer was actively politically, serving as a township commissioner in Plymouth while other members of his family held posts with Wayne County.
All that remains of the area is the Thayer Schoolhouse and the cemetery.
“They are kind of separated from the township,” Schneider said. “We wanted to let people know the history out into the township a little bit more.”
The Township Board created the Historical District Commission in 2006 and then the committee in 2009. The committee was charged with researching Thayer’s Corners, completing a photographic survey and evaluating the significance of its historic resources.
Following legal guidelines of evaluation criteria from the National Register of Historic Places, the committee determined that Thayer’s Corners is significant. The committee’s findings included:
- The boundaries of the district are directly associated with the initial settling of the area by the Thayer family and the founding of the cemetery and the schoolhouse.
- The general character of the area, and the rural setting of both the cemetery and the schoolhouse are directly associated with the early settlement of that portion of the township.
- Thayer’s Schoolhouse was built in 1877 on land purchased from the Thayer Family in 1854 and stands today as an important reminder of the early educational history of the township.
- Thayer’s Corners represents four generations of the Thayer Family, who trace their presence in the township back to the 1820s and who owned the land until 1970.
- In addition to the Thayer family, early settlers, veterans, community leaders and business owners who were also significant to the history of the township are interned in the cemetery.
“Kudos to the committee,” Township Manager Chip Snider said. “I thought the report was very professionally written.”