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Jane Schmiedeke papers

Identifier: 018.JS

Scope and Contents

The preservation activities and efforts of Jane Schmiedeke are documented in this collection of administrative, legal, financial, and outreach materials. The collection is arranged into four series Towner House, Ypsilanti Heritage Foundation, Ypsilanti Historic District Commission andVisual Materials and within those series are arranged alphabetically then chronologically.

The Towner House series contains one subseries (Documents), the Ypsilanti Heritage Foundation has two subseries (Home Tours and Publications) and the Ypsilanti Historic Districts Commission series contain two sub series (Agendas & Minutes and National Bank of Ypsilanti).

The Towner House, Ypsilanti Heritage Foundation, Ypsilanti Historic District Commission series primarily contains papers with a small portion containing postcards and publications. The Visual Materials series contains 3 1/2 x 5 and 4 x 6 photographs on photographic and letter sized paper and negatives. The Towner House series contains materials related to the legal battle between the YHF and the First Presbyterian Church of Ypsilanti, administrative operations, adaptive reuse plans, building permits, grants, publications and grants. The Publications subseries in the Ypsilanti Heritage Foundation series contains almost complete runs of The Old House Journal from 1973 through 1986. Missing are The Old House Journal Vol. IV, No. 3 (1976 March) and Vol. VIII, No. 6 (1980 June); runs of this publication after 1985 in this collection are incomplete.


  • Creation: 1974 - 2009
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1980 - 2006


Language of Materials

All records are in English unless otherwise noted.

Conditions Governing Access

Researchers are asked to request materials 24 hours prior to visiting the the University Archives.

Administrative History Note

The Ypsilanti Heritage Foundation (YHF) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to preserving the cultural heritage of Ypsilanti, Michigan. Ypsilanti contains the second largest historic district in the State of Michigan and is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The YHF was formed on 21 October 1974 to maintain the historic Towner House and to preserve other historic structures in city.

The Towner House is a historically significant structure in Ypsilanti that was purchased by the First Presbyterian Church of Ypsilanti in the early 1970s and rented out as a residence to local college students. After falling into disrepair the church considered tearing down the structure. In 1974 the YHF approached the church and offered their services to maintain and find an adaptive reuse for the structure. Eventually the YHF and church became in a very long legal battle that eventually reached a precedent setting settlement that turned ownership of the structure over to the YHF.

Including Schmiedeke, the first Board of Directors also included prominent Ypsilanti residents Nathalie Edmonds, Dorothy Disbrow (Ypsilanit Historical Society), Oscar Haab (founder of Haab's Restaurant), John Kirkendall (local attorney and member of First Presbyterian Church of Ypsilanti), Benjamin Koerber (local banker), Andrew Smith (owner of Smith Electric), Maxe Obermayer, Jr (local realtor), Donald randazzo (restoration carpenter), Mary Warner and Joseph Warren.

The Ypsilanti Historic District Commission (YHDC) guides development and renovation within the district and is charged through the provisions of the Historic District Ordinance. Any proposed work on the exterior of a structure within the District must be reviewed by the YHDC.

Biographical Note

Jane Bird Schmiedeke has been a resident of Ypsilanti since 1955. Early in her life she became interested the importance of Ypsilainti's cultural heritage and quickly became a strong advocate for the identification and appreciation of the built environment, cultural landscapes and material culture of Ypsilanti. Schmiedeke is a founding member of the Ypsilanti Heritage Foundation and also served on the Ypsilanti Historic District Commission.


5.5 Linear Feet (3 record center cartons, 4 archive boxes)


The Jane Schmiedeke papers consists of materials relating to her preservation efforts in Ypsilanti, Michigan from 1974 through 2009. The majority of the materials are centered on the foundation, operation and preservation activities of the Ypsilanti Heritage Foundation (YHF), preservation of the Towner House, her time on the Ypsilanti Historic District Commission (YHDC), and the controversy between the YHDC and the National Bank of Ypsilanti. This collection contains primary and secondary research materials such as agendas and minutes, correspondence, meeting notes, legal documents, promotional calendars / postcards, photographs and newspaper clippings. Also, this collection contains information on preservation legislation, proposals to the Ypsilanti Historic District Commission, recognition of fellow preservationist Earl Greene, fund raising activities, Historic District Marker program and various tours of historic sites and homes in Ypsilanti, Michigan. The collection is arranged into four series: Towner House; Ypsilanti Heritage Foundation; Ypsilanti Historic District Commission; and Visual Materials.

Related Materials

Materials related to this collection may be found in the Susan Wineberg papers [018.SW] housed at the University Archives, Eastern Michigan University and at the Ypsilanti Historical Museum:

Legal Status

This collection contains copyrighted materials. Researchers must secure permission from the University Archivist before any materials are copied.



Jane Schmiedeke papers, 1973-2009
Robin Derminer
2011 October 7
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Eastern Michigan University Archives Repository

Bruce T. Halle Library, Room 310
955 West Circle Drive
Ypsilanti Michigan 48197