Towers in Michigan's Irish Hills could be demolished
Written by Associated Press   
Thursday, 30 May 2013 11:56

CAMBRIDGE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A pair of deteriorating wooden observation towers built in the 1920s in Michigan's Irish Hills could be demolished if money to stabilize them can't be raised, officials said.

The Irish Hills Towers in Lenawee County's Cambridge Township need an estimated $300,000 in repairs, the Jackson Citizen Patriot and Detroit Free Press reported.

Township officials in April declared that the towers were a public nuisance and in violation of a local buildings ordinance. The Irish Hills Historical Society owns them and must make progress on funding by Aug. 1 or they'll likely be torn down later this year.

"They're still an icon for the whole area," said Donna Boglarsky, president of the historical society. "And for us, it's quite an emotional attachment."

Township officials also want to see repair work begin.

"They've severely deteriorated because of the weather and the openings and the condition they're in," said Bruce Nickel, the township's building official. "The integrity of the structures is to the point where they're unsafe."

The towers were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2007. They've been closed to the public for more than a decade. Boglarsky said she hopes to get grants and private donations to restore the towers, and donations will be refunded if the effort fails.

The history of the towers includes a lively dispute along a property line in the scenic Irish Hills, about 60 miles southwest of Detroit.

According to the newspapers, the original tower was built by a company on part of a hilltop. It opened in 1924, but the owner of the other part of the hilltop wasn't pleased. Edward Kelley built a similar tower a few feet away, and it was dubbed the "spite tower."

Both Kelley and the company began adding to the tops of their towers until one reached 68 feet and the other reached 64 feet. A truce ended the construction.

Boglarsky and her husband purchased both towers in 1976. They added a miniature golf course at the base of the towers in 1987, but that closed in 2000. Her husband died, and Boglarsky deeded the property to the Irish Hills Historical Society, which she started in 2010.

"It's been a focal point for the area for so long, it'd be hard to think of them as gone," said Township Clerk Rick Richardson. "So, hopefully, they can come up with something ... to take care of the major problems; then we can give them more time."


Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

 

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