Heritage Hill Historic District

Heritage Hill is a neighborhood in Grand Rapids, Michigan and is among the biggest city historic districts in the United States. It is bounded by Crescent Street (north), Union Avenue (east), Pleasant Street (south), and Lafayette Avenue (west). Heritage Hill was designated by the American Planning Association as one of 2012’s Great Places in America. Grand Rapids Michigan Information.

Location Grand Rapids, Michigan
Architect Frank Lloyd Wright; Multiple
Architectural style Colonial Revival, Greek Revival, Italianate
NRHP reference # 71000399
Added to NRHP March 11, 1971


Heritage Hill is adjacent to downtown Grand Rapids and is the city’s oldest residential district. Its 1,300 homes date from 1843 and represent Michigan’s largest and finest concentration of 19th and early twentieth-century homes. Almost every style of American architecture, from Greek Revival to Prairie is represented. These were the homes of lumber barons, teachers, judges, and lawmakers who shaped the city’s future. It is home to about 4,400 residents and covers an area of about 3,500 acres (14 km2). A number of architectural designs are consisted of in the historical district consisting of Greek Revival, Italianate, Colonial Revival, Chateauesque, Queen Anne, Shingle Style and over 50 others. There is likewise a Prairie Style home created by Frank Lloyd Wright which was integrated in 1908-09.


In the 1960s, urban renewal efforts throughout Grand Rapids required destroying approximately 75% of the neighborhood. However, protests from residents led to the organization of the Heritage Hill Association, in 1968. The residents filed court obstacles and were able to stop the loss of historic neighborhood homes under the 1966 National Historic Preservation Act. This was the very first such case of using a successful suit to safeguard a neighborhood’s character under the Act.

Today, the Heritage Hill Association supplies neighbors a way of jointly constructing a healthy, historically preserved neighborhood where individuals can live and work in a protected and steady environment. Concerns consist of land usage, criminal activity and security issues, preservation, parking and traffic, education and other quality of life issues. Heritage Hill was contributed to the National Register of Historic Places and the Michigan State Register of Historic Sites in 1971.

The Master Plan of Heritage Hill, approved by the city in 1988 and incorporated into the city’s 2002 master plan, assisted shape the restoration and development of the neighborhood’s many historical residential or commercial properties, as did the 1992 Prospect Plan. When the city authorized the Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital’s parking ramp, it connected funding to perform the possibility strategy as one of the conditions.

Prior to its designation as a National Historic District a number of houses were destroyed. One noteworthy house that was lost was the Bissell home, built for Melville R. Bissell (creator of the carpet sweeper) & his better half Anna. The site is now inhabited by Grand Rapids’ NBC tv affiliate station, WOOD-TV Channel 8.

Each year in May, the Heritage Hill Association sponsors a weekend Home Tour in the Historic District that consists of admittance to pick houses.  The Association likewise releases a series of self-guided walking tours of the historic district which can be taken at any time, however which does not include admittance to the homes.