What was once a Facebook page called Citizens Resisting Asphalt Plant (C.R.A.P.) has transitioned into a page called Residents for Community Preservation (RCP). This private Facebook page has more than 3,000 members.
The group’s vocal opposition to a rezoning request, which would have allowed an asphalt plant to be developed in Tyrone Township, was a factor in the developer withdrawing their plan.
With the asphalt plant behind them, this non-profit organization renamed itself and now is raising awareness and hoping to raise enough funds to move the old township hall and preserve it for historical purposes, as well as being useful.
The historic Town House is one of Tyrone Township’s final historic buildings. It was designated as a historic site in 1975 by the State of Michigan, and was a place built to bring a community of people together. The Town House provided a space where gatherings of all sorts, meetings, and elections were held.
The township offices have moved to a new building and RCP has partnered with Tyrone Township’s Historical Society in a plan to move the historic 1887 Town Hall building to the new site.
Linda McFarland, vice president of the Tyrone Township Historical Society and a lifelong resident of Tyrone Township, said, “It’s important to us to accomplish this feat.”
McFarland is hopeful that the growing support to save the old hall will result in it being relocated to the property of the current township hall. She said the property is 10 acres and there is room for the historic building. “It’s a well-structured building,” she said. “They took pride in building structures that lasted. Back then, structure was everything.”
See town house on 13
McFarland also said, “Support is better each day. They like the idea of history. The world is based on history.”
Tom Runyan, 79, of Tyrone Township, is secretary/treasurer of the Tyrone Township Historical Society and also a lifelong resident. Daniel Runyan, who was the step-brother of his great great grandfather, settled in Tyrone Township in 1836, one year before Michigan became a state.
Runyan Lake and Runyan Lake Road were named after the Runyan family. Tom Runyan said back in the 1930s, the utility companies required counties and townships to name its roads and it was common to name the roads after families or landmarks.
Runyan said, “The first time I voted was in that building.” That was in 1960. There are still two old voting booths in the building.
Recalling those early days, Runyan said, “Those were very simple people. They didn’t have degrees, but they worked really hard. The women worked just as hard or harder because they had to raise the kids.” He added that his great grandmother on his dad’s side couldn’t read and had to sign a legal document with a simple “X” on the signature line.
He said years ago, he and good friend Bill McEachern, who is a trustee with the historical society, painted the building themselves.
Runyan believes the township made a mistake by not moving the historical building when the offices moved to the new location. “It belongs to the taxpayers of many, many years, not just in 2021,” he said. “Why would anyone consider abandoning a historical structure?”
Runyan said initial estimates just to move the structure would be approximately $50,000. The ground where it currently sits would need to be reclaimed and the future site would need a concrete slab or foundation, which could cost at least $25,000. In addition to fundraisers, the historical society and the new non-profit group are researching grants that might be available.
“A lot has to happen,” Runyan said. “It’s a terrible shame to abandon it. If you do, you abandon all of history.”
Tyrone Township Supervisor Mike Cunningham said the township has until November 2022 to decide what to do with the building.
TYRONE REVISITED hosts a collection of family stories at the very heart of the community in a 143-page book. These families have lived, served and made Tyrone Township what it is over many decades. From working to build the first Town House as a community center point in 1887, to moving it to preserve it in 1975, these are the families with the longest standing legacies in our community. The building was also re-dedicated as a Michigan Historic Site in 1975. Learn more about our community roots. Copies are available for purchase at:
Tyrone Township Hall
8420 Runyan Lake Road
Fenton, MI 48430