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Detroit City Council Historic Designation Advisory Board launches study of Arab and Chaldean community histories

2024
  • Detroit is the first city in the nation to receive an Underrepresented Communities Grant (URC) grant from the National Park Service (NPS) to recognize Arab and Chaldean immigrant and community histories.
  • Detroit’s Historic Designation Advisory Board (HDAB) seeks participation from community members to share Arab and Chaldean local and family histories and photographs.
  • Funding supports the HDAB’s ongoing efforts to study historic places related to Detroit’s Arab and Chaldean communities.
  • The study will identify a Detroit site related to Arab and Chaldean community history to be listed in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP).

 

Detroit’s first Arab and Chaldean immigrants arrived more than a century ago. Yet, there are currently no historic districts or individual properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) related to Detroit’s Arab and Chaldean communities. This project by Detroit’s Historic Designation Advisory Board (HDAB) will change this.

Detroit is the first city in the nation to receive an Underrepresented Communities (URC) Grant that recognizes Arab and Chaldean immigrants. This $50,000 URC grant was awarded to the

HDAB by the National Park Service (NPS) to fund a historic property survey of Detroit sites related to Arab and Chaldean community history.

The HDAB will work with Arab and Chaldean community partners to collect local and family histories. Based on community feedback, a site related to Arab and Chaldean history will be listed in the NRHP. Detroit-based places of study will include businesses, churches, mosques, restaurants, grocers, schools, and community centers.

"As we celebrate the awarding of the National Parks Service grant to the Historic District Advisory Board for the historic context survey of Detroit's Arab and Chaldean Communities, we reaffirm our commitment to honoring the diverse tapestry of our city's history,” said City Council President Mary Sheffield.

“This grant not only acknowledges the significance of the Arab and Chaldean communities in shaping Detroit's story, but also underscores the importance of preserving and promoting the cultural heritage of underrepresented communities. Through this project, we will continue to build bridges of understanding and ensure that every voice contributes to the rich narrative of our beloved city. Detroit's past is a mosaic of countless stories, and it is our duty to ensure that each chapter is recognized, respected, and remembered."

The Arab and Chaldean URC Grant is part of a broad, multi-year HDAB initiative to document and highlight underrepresented communities in Detroit. Other recent URC grant projects include the Eight Mile/Wyoming area, the oldest Black neighborhood in northwest Detroit and an ongoing study of Detroit’s Latinx community history in Southwest Detroit.

The City of Detroit will be hosting a community meeting about the Arab and Chaldean histories project on February 20. The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. at WCCCD (Curtis L. Ivery Downtown Campus) in the Frank Hayden Community Room (Room 236). Please join HDAB as we continue to unearth the untold narratives of Detroit’s Arab and Chaldean community history. For additional information about this project including updates regarding all HDAB grant projects, please visit: detroitmi.gov/government/boards/historic-designation-advisory-board/special-projects.

This project is being supported in part by the Underrepresented Communities Grant (URC) from the Historic Preservation Fund (HPF) administered by the National Park Service, Department of the Interior. The HPF has funded more than $2 billion since its inception in 1977 towards historic preservation grants. For more information about the URC grant program, please visit go.nps.gov/urc.

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The Historic Designation Advisory Board advises City Council on various historic preservation matters including requests for the designation of local historic districts. The Advisory Board generally meets on the second Thursday of each month at 4:00 p.m. in the Committee of the

Whole Room on the 13th floor of the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center. For more information, please visit detroitmi.gov/hdab.