The Boulevard House was launched in summer of 2012 with a vision of providing a project-based learning and engagement with the surrounding community. Invited to settle in the vacant house owned by People’s Community Services, the project was funded by the School of Social Work in summer of 2012, and the concept developed with a project team at University of Michigan (UM) and a core community committee. The initial stakeholders included: Larry Gant (UM-Social Work and Art&Design), Maria Cotera (UM-Latina/o Studies), Tom Cervenak (People’s Community Services), Mike Garcia (UAW), Mary Luevanos (CLAVE), Lisa Luevanos (CLAVE), Diana Rivera (Michigan State University) and Gloria Rocha (Comite Patriotico Mexicano).
One of the strong initial project partners, El Museo del Norte, opened the exhibit, We Will Be Heard!, at the Boulevard House in 2013. This was followed in 2014 by the current exhibit, Las Rebeldes. Preparation for these exhibits involved partners at the University of Michigan and in the community, and they collaboratively completed a lion’s share of renovation work inside the house. El Museo has been a primary presence and mobilization force at the Boulevard House for the first year, and drew support from Maria Cotera, Elena Herrada (Fronteras Norteñas), Jennifer Peacock (UM-Program in American Culture) and Mick Kennedy (UM-School of Architecture).
The Stamps School of Art & Design (SSA&D) also initiated an art exhibit in spring of 2014, Una Vida Linda by Rolando Palacio, which required additional, continued UM and community partner support in preparing the space.
Over the summer of 2014, Nick Tobier (Stamps) and Larry Gant (SSW/SSA&D) used funding through MCubed to host a Detroit-native artist in residence, Alana Hoey.
In 2014, University of Michigan held several Detroit-based courses at the Boulevard House, including locating the SSW Community-Based Initiative program classwork on site. SSA&D and the School of Music, Theater and Dance (SMTD) also held classes on site.
In late September 2014, the School of Social Work (SSW) took an active role in creating long-term programming that integrated all elements of the founding vision. A graduate UM Community Scholar in the Community Based Initiative program began residence in the house to complete interior renovations and to develop strong community-driven programs. Many of these programs are expected to debut in January 2015 and will continue to evolve in response to community needs.