Before reporting on the update of the historical Dewey-Wedgewood Home at Beckmaze, I need to acknowledge the citizen journalist , Dorothy Simon-Tibbe who told us about Wyoming’s oldest residence. Thank you Dorothy!
Here’s a brief recap: The 180 year old residence and its three-acre property are the focus of preservation by a group of local historians known as the Beckmaze Historical Society. They are a non-profit group that is passionate about seeing the grounds along Buck Creek preserved as a community learning center through the City of Wyoming. The reason Beckmaze Historical Society is seeking jurisdiction as a community center is because the city of Wyoming does not recognize historical or museum status for properties under city ordinances. I asked the head of the city’s planning, Tom Cochran, why there is no historic status under the city planning commission ordinances and he honestly replied, “I don’t know.”
It would seem to this citizen journalist that if there were a historical or museum status in the city ordinances, the Dewey-Wedgewood Home at Beckmaze would be deemed a historical museum – hands down! After all, records of the property predate Michigan becoming a state! Native American artifacts have been found around the home as well as pre-Civil War coins. So to put it in layman’s terms: This property is a historical no-brainer.
Unfortunately however, it is not that simple due to the city’s current ordinances. Wyoming city officials say they have more questions than answers to the group’s request. After hearing the Beckmaze proposal at last month’s public meeting, Wyoming’s planning and development committee shared concerns about emergency access to the site, the availability of public parking, and the potential response from neighboring residents.
Kelly Hogan of the Beckmaze Historical Society tells us that while all the neighbors are supportive of the property’s special use, details for emergency access and parking at the site are being worked out.
She added that once all the city’s concerns are addressed, the group will resubmit their proposal to the city. White is also considering having the state of Michigan do a historical evaluation of the property to present its findings to the city planning commission. Perhaps then the city council will be motivated to sign a new ordinance to govern historical properties in Wyoming. Currently the city Wyoming does not have a designated museum. There is a historical room at the Wyoming branch of the Kent District Library.
If you are interested in joining the Beckmaze Historical Society to help protect this property, call 616-258-8617 or visit Beckmaze Historical-Society on Facebook for the latest updates.