Traverse City Record-Eagle

Our Town

December 13, 2010

Group eager to save Knollwood

Group eager to develop plan to save Knollwood

ACME — Kicking off a membership drive in a blizzard did not dampen the enthusiasm of Acme Heritage Society founders.

What's a little white-out when there's a building to save.

The Acme Heritage Society's first focus is the Knollwood house, a three-story stately structure built by township founder Leonard Hoxsie in 1875. The home, most recently used as a motel, sits on four acres of land purchased this year by the township.

The Knollwood and other two adjacent hotels combine for 540-feet of frontage, a portion of the mile-long Shoreline Park being created.

Despite its long and storied history, the Knollwood house was scheduled for demolition this fall. In October, the township board voted a year's reprieve to allow research and preservation efforts to continue.

Dorothy Dunville acknowledged that some Shoreline Park donors and proponents are displeased with this push, preferring clear land without any buildings.

"When they first started doing this wonderful Shoreline project, which it is truly wonderful, we were told there were not going to be any buildings that could stay," Dunville said.

Society supporters counter that this building's historical significance and good condition make it an excellent candidate for preservation. The Knollwood could provide restroom facilities and a visitor's center, possibly a park office, concessions and historical photos.

They believe this classic building is preferable to a potential future cinder-block structure.

"We're trying to do what we can to save what Acme has here," said Dunville, who is also the Acme Township clerk. "Doing all this means that we've realized how many people want this saved — how many people really care."

November 2011 looms large in society member's minds so the work continues apace.

"Once it's gone, it's gone forever," said Amy Hardin, secretary of the Acme Heritage Society. "And we owe it to future generations to provide them with a sense of place and chronological connectivity."

The area's newest historical organization launched Nov. 17 to preserve the history and traditions of a community dating to 1863.

Society President Sally Frye noted that Acme has lost much of its heritage, including the old sawmill and other buildings.

"I don't want to see it happen again," she said of the potential Knollwood demolition.

As the Acme Heritage Society begins nonprofit paperwork, society treasurer Dunville opened her home Sunday for a membership drive.

While the Knollwood house has a hard deadline and currently draws the Acme Heritage Society's focus, the organization's mission is greater than one structure.

Dunville has already gathered oral histories of longtime Acme residents and the society will continue those documentation efforts. In addition, society members are researching and evaluating three other remaining structures from the 1800s with an eye toward documentation and preservation.

The group also supports and has overlapping leadership and membership rolls with the nearby Yuba Historical Society, whose mission is to preserve the Yuba schoolhouse.

For more information about the Acme Heritage Society, call 590-4004.

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