Restoring Detroit’s Playground

Belle Isle State Park

Belle Isle State Park

Detroit, Michigan

Our assessments, restorations, and stabilizations of Belle Isle’s key historic buildings will help future generations continue to enjoy this island park. Belle Isle has been a vibrant site of recreation and relaxation since the 1880s, when Frederick Law Olmsted was hired to design the 982-acre urban oasis. The largest city-owned park in the United States, it incorporates a wealth of historic buildings, monuments, and landscapes.  

We have renovated several buildings and sites that enhance this beloved destination and add to visitors’ understanding of its historic significance. We have also provided building assessments that help the park operator and nonprofit friends group prioritize the work needed to support the structures’ continued use or to return them to active use.

The mission of Belle Isle Conservancy is to protect, preserve, restore and enhance the natural environment, historic structures, and unique character of Belle Isle as a public park for the enjoyment of all – now and forever.
A photo of the Belle Isle Casino.

Historic Building Rehabilitations

Based on our previous building assessment reports, we have completed full rehabilitations of multiple buildings: the Police Headquarters (1893), Casino (1908), Police Radio Station (1936), Sawmill (1937), and three turn-of-the-century picnic shelters.

A photo of the Nancy Brown Peace Carillon and the Bandshell.

Nancy Brown Peace Carillon

Our rehabilitation master plan is guiding the phased restoration of this Neo-Gothic tower, constructed in 1939-40 to symbolize peace even as the shadow of war fell over the world. The plan includes prioritized recommendations for discrete projects that can be completed as funding becomes available.

A rendering of the Beachfront and Bath House.

Beachfront Revitalization

Our design for the renewal of a 5-acre beachfront provides a low maintenance, environmentally friendly community amenity. Input from community engagement sessions informs the design for a series of accessible swimming, lounging, and play areas clustered near the historic Bath House.

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