GPHS Moorings Newsletters - page 209

Grosse Pointe Historical Society:
Bringing the Past to Life for 60 Years
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Tremendous growth in the last decade
Since its 50th Anniversary, the Society has continued to
expand and progress. Probably the most significant
accomplishment since the 50th Anniversary was the com-
plete restoration of the Provencal-Weir house.
“The Provencal-Weir House is a symbol of The Society
and our dedication to the community. It is living history
and a tremendous resource for learning,” said Lisa Mower
Gandelot, co-president of the Society and leader of the
Provencal-Weir House restoration efforts.
Purchased in 1988 to eventually become the Society’s
headquarters, the white clapboard Greek Revival farm-
house is one of Grosse Pointe’s oldest surviving homes.
Built in 1823, it was originally located on the lakeshore
near where Provencal Rd. is now. It was moved to its pres-
ent site, 376 Kercheval, in 1914. The Society has spent 14
years and many tens of thousands of dollars renovating
and furnishing the home to be historically accurate. In
2001, they held a Mortgage Burning Party, after raising
funds to pay off the mortgage balance on the house.
Today, the Provencal-Weir House regularly hosts events
and programs. Tours are given once a month.
The Society acquired a second historical building in 1995,
a log cabin from the mid-1800s that was located on the
grounds of Christ Church Grosse Pointe. Between May
1997 and January 1999, the cabin was taken apart, trans-
ported to its current location behind the Provencal-Weir
House, where the logs were treated with insecticide, and
then reassembled log by log. It took 77 hours to take the
cabin down and more than 700 hours to reassemble, re-
roof, and chink it. Today, the public can visit the cabin as
part of the Provencal-Weir House tour.
“With the acquisition of these buildings, we made the
commitment to be here to stay and to be a vital, ener-
getic, proactive force in the community,” said Gandelot.
The Society has shown it really knows how to party in
recent years. The Great Gatsby Gala of 1997 and last
year’s Rumrunners Rendezvous were wildly successful fun
and fund-raisers. This year’s Party for Posterity 60th
Anniversary Celebration on June 17 was another fabulous
festivity. Bastille Day has been celebrated several times by
the Society as a nod to Grosse Pointe’s French heritage.
The best is yet come
“Great plans are in store for the Grosse Pointe Historical
Society,” according to Mike Skinner, Society co-president.
“Our board is committed to getting more people of all ages
excited about history. Suzy Berschback became our new
curator in 2004 and has been instrumental in helping us
achieve this.
A new website,, was launched this spring
with a modern look and updated information designed to
make the Society’s archives available to anyone with
access to a computer. “We have thousands of beautiful
photographs and unique documents to share with the
community,” said Skinner. “Our current website is just
laying the foundation to continue to build for years to
come. We are excited about adding on-line exhibits.”
Numerous programs have been developed for families to
experience the past together and to get kids interested in
history. Last year’s summer program for children, “Life on
a Ribbon Farm,” was a big success and will be held again
this summer. An Encampment at the Grosse Pointe City
Park is planned for September 24 and 25 with costumed
re-enactors demonstrating what life was like along the
shores of Lake St. Clair in the 1700s.
“One of the most exciting of our new programs is the One
Room Schoolhouse which will open in September,”
according to Skinner. The Society has transformed the
second floor of the Provencal-Weir house into a classroom
from the 1900s, complete with benches, individual chalk-
boards, and McGuffy readers. Kids in the second through
fifth grades will be able to experience what it would have
been like to go to school in Grosse Pointe one hundred
years ago. Funding for this was provided by the Grosse
Pointe Questers.
Today the Society stays true to its mission of preserving
and promoting the history of Grosse Pointe with exciting
programs and resources for all ages. The programs are
supported mainly by private contributions from individu-
als, business, and foundations. To join the Society or for
more information, call (313) 884-7010 or visit the website
Taking down the Log Cabin, piece by piece, to move it to
the Grosse Pointe Historical Society in 1997.
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