Historical Society, park board consider Crapo shed donation

City looking into cost to move the building from bean field to park


SWARTZ CREEK — What is perhaps the last surviving building from the Crapo Farm could have a new home in Swartz Creek, but it will take a huge community effort.

Swartz Creek Historical Society President Dave Spillane said the structure is an implement shed that the late Dallas Sparks, a former firefighter, salvaged from the Crapo estate in the 1970s.

“They literally cut it in half with a chainsaw, put it on a hay wagon, and took it to Dallas’ house,” Spillane said.

Spillane, himself a former firefighter, confirmed the authenticity of the Crapo shed through conversations with several other firefighters, including Dallas Sparks’ son, Ron.

“Everything lines up historically with the stories we’ve been told,” Spillane said. “I am confident that this is the last known remnant of the Crapo farm.”

With the death of Dallas Sparks’ wife, Lorraine, in May, the family is preparing to sell the Sparks homestead in Clayton Township. They have offered to donate the building, which measures about 20 feet wide by 32 feet long.

Spillane, who believes the shed was built in the 1930s or ‘40s, has asked that the city accept the donation, and find a place in one of the parks where it could be used as a picnic shelter.

“Structurally, it’s in pretty good shape,” he said.

He and his wife, Lisa, who is a curator for the Historical Society, are hoping the structure can be returned to what was originally Crapo property, which would include Abrams Park, a city-owned lot at the southwest corner of Hill and Seymour roads, or at Cappy and Fairchild streets.

They would not be opposed to placing the building in the park on Bristol Road, which is currently being developed into the Otterburn Disc Golf Park.

“It (the disc golf park) is not Crapo grounds, but it’s an area where (the building) would get used and there is a need there,” said City Manager Adam Zettel. “There are a lot of places it could go where it would have value and where it makes sense.”

Zettel said he will work on getting some cost estimates for moving the building. He also asked for a written statement from the Historical Society to use on an interpretive sign.

Jim Barclay, president of the Swartz Creek Parks and Recreation Advisory Board and member of the Historical Society, said another area resident is interested in donating a large rock from the Crapo property, which would provide an appropriate place to affix the sign.

“There are some (Crapo Farm) artifacts, such as a well pump and a bell, that have been saved and donated over the years,” said Spillane. “But a structure? This is not going to happen again. This is a once-in-a-lifetime situation.”