A formal dig of Apple Island on Orchard Lake in 2008 uncovered a lot for West Bloomfield School District students to learn. A new project, proposed by the Greater West Bloomfield Historical Society, could uncover all that and "beyond considerable prestige" if successful.
The island, which has been owned by the district since 1970, was suggested as a possible nominee to the Michigan state and National Register of Historic Places by Kalamazoo-based archaeologist David Brose during a presentation at Monday night's school board meeting.
He said that working with the Western Michigan University Department of Anthropology, he hopes to offer an advanced archaeology course in May 2013 on the island with permission and help from the district in the form of available classroom space.
Brose in the summer of 2008 worked with the district and the historical society to develop a course curriculum for local teachers, using an archaeological dig at the site as a learning tool.
Brose said that the expedition revealed evidence of Native American life in the late 1700s, through its period as a farmland in the 1800s and a resort area in the 1900s.
"Urban archaeology in cities like Detroit … is discovering all kinds of interesting things about how people actually lived by looking at the remains of what they left behind," Brose said. "Just as we do with ancient Babylonians, early Native Americans, it’s possible to look at the early 20th century in the same fashion."
The benefit to the district, Brose explained, includes a prestigious list of Michigan-area company on the National Register, which is the federal government's official list of districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects deemed worthy of preservation. It would also allow the district a special opportunity to apply for grants for public interpretation and preservation.
The district currently utilizes the 35-acre site as a tour for second-graders, led by historical society volunteers, which it has offered since 1995. Being place on the National Register would allow the district to continue its tours, Brose explained, as there would be no regulatory or restrictive covenants placed on the landowner.
There was no motion made to Brose's presentation.
Another agenda item, involving the possibility of placing a new millage proposal on a 2013 special election ballot, was put off in the absence of a full board. It is expected to return to the agenda in December, President Bruce Tobin said.
- For a photo gallery from a Sept. 2011 tour of Apple Island and the Greater West Bloomfield Historical Society Museum, visit: Viewfinder: Second-Graders Visit Apple Island