photo of the lodge building after some restoration work had been done, and Hilary Davis is standing in front with a proud smile at the Packard Proving Grounds Historic SiteMy part in this story continued after the PPG was acquired by the Packard Motor Car Foundation and still goes on today, although thankfully at a much slower and less stressful pace.

I received my master’s degree in historic preservation in April 2000.  I wrote the National Register nomination for the PPG for my master’s thesis, but the site did not get listed at that time because the property was still owned by Ford Land.  The company objected to the listing for reasons I do not understand.  I was disappointed, but only mildly because I knew the PPG was in the process of being taken over by the Packard Motor Car Foundation.  And my thesis was approved anyway.  A revised version of the National Register nomination was submitted and approved in 2007.  Listing on the Michigan State Register of Historic Places soon followed.

Now I am a volunteer at the PPG, giving tours, working on restorations, serving on committees, writing articles.  The site is in good hands and its future is bright.

It’s amazing what can be accomplished with a lot of luck and determination topped with a large dollop of serendipity.

Image of Arcadia book about the history of Shelby Township, Michigan written by Hilary DavisShelby Township History

(Images of America)

paperback – December 6, 2010

In early 1818, a 36-square-mile area of Michigan known as Town 3 N, Range 12 E was surveyed and opened for sale. Ten years later, Shelby Township, blessed with abundant streams and fertile soils, was well on its way to becoming a prosperous farming community lasting well into the 20th century. One of these farms was a station on the Underground Railroad and, 100 years later, home to boxer Joe Louis. The doomed Clinton and Kalamazoo Canal was dug through the township in 1839, but railroads and the horse and buggy remained the preferred modes of transportation until the advent of the automobile. The Packard Motor Car Company purchased over 400 acres in the township in 1926 and installed a world-class automobile testing facility. By 1960, the automobile had changed the landscape, shifting it from farms to the tract housing, retail centers, and industrial complexes seen today.

About the Author

Hilary Davis grew up in Massachusetts, where her love of history was honed, but now calls Shelby Township home. She is a member of the Shelby Township Historical Committee, which allowed access to its archives and collection of photographs. Other images were graciously supplied by Shelby Township residents, past and present.  Link to Amazon listing


  • Hilary Davis

    I have a passion for history and architecture, which sometimes gets me into situations that are at first way over my head but often end up having rewarding and satisfying outcomes.