The historic preservation consultant hired by the US Postal Service in August 1998 to conduct the Section 106 review of the PPG was Ron Emerich of Austin, Texas, a highly qualified preservation specialist with years of experience in this field. Ron spent a week in Shelby Township exploring and thoroughly documenting the PPG.
I worked with Ron on this project for several days. To say I learned a lot from him would be an understatement. What was particularly satisfying was how quickly he fell in love with the PPG. I knew he was the right person for this job.
Ron invited a fellow preservation consultant named Bill to accompany him around the site. My husband and I took Ron and Bill through all the buildings and around the test roads. The four of us even crawled through the underbrush to see the water bath. Somebody tripped and fell onto the jagged rusty weir in the water bath. I think it was Bill. My mind raced with thoughts of broken bones and tetanus and lawsuits and how to get an injured person out of that dense thicket, but fortunately, the only damage was to a pair of jeans. We all enjoyed a good laugh and a sigh of relief that it was nothing worse. Considering the dilapidated condition of the entire site, we were lucky to have had just that one mishap.
At the end of the week, Ron wrote a comprehensive and glowing report on the PPG underscoring the historic importance of the whole site, not just the airplane hangar. He concluded that the PPG qualified for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, which was an important step in securing a positive outcome for the Section 106 review.
The report was sent to the State Historic Preservation Office and to the US Postal Service. The PPG was gaining recognition and my hopes were high. I was especially relieved that there was no mention in the report of the tumble into the water bath.
To be continued.