UPDATE: Michigan Land Bank holds event to return Michigan State Fair memorial bricks to donors

People showed up to reclaim more than 100 bricks

DETROIT (WXYZ) - It's a state fair salute complete with a stilt walker, juggler, cotton candy, balloons and bricks.

More than 100 memorial bricks donated in 1998 to restore the replica of the World's Largest Stove filled a table in the East Showroom of Cadillac Place for the Michigan Land Bank's "brick return" event Thursday, May 2.

"It's heavy!" said 76-year-old Barb Garbutt after she picked up her family's brick.

She called the Michigan Land Bank after she saw the story on 7 Action News about reclaiming the bricks.

"We put [the brick] in because we called it Grandma's Stove.  And the stove was important to us when we were growing up.  So I thought it would be nice to take the brick back and give it to my brother," she explained.

The Michigan Land Bank recovered and cataloged more than 1200 bricks from the old state fairgrounds after the stove burned down in August of 2011.

"I can't thank you enough for all that you have done and all the fun stories that we've heard and the people who have called [and for] the memories that we'll be able to collect now," said Kim Homan, Executive Director of the Michigan Land Bank Fast Track Authority.

The Michigan Land Bank had a camera crew on hand to record anyone's personal memories of the state fair.

Homan said the WXYZ story was the catalyst for this event.

The idea to reconnect the bricks to their donors really took shape after Emmett Hynes contacted our Call for Action team to find his brick.

"I called Channel 7, and two weeks later I have my brick," recalled Hynes with a smile.

His brick bears the names of some of his siblings -- two of whom have passed away.

After our story aired, the Michigan Land Bank received dozens of calls about the memorial bricks.

Some bricks pay tribute to someone -- like 17 honoring boat racer Jack Schafer.

Others honor a loved one.

"Her Dad died ten years ago, and that's why they got the brick to commemorate his death," said John Shoemaker standing next to his wife who was reverently holding her father's brick.

"It's emotional," she said.

More than a thousand bricks have not been reclaimed.  The Michigan Land Bank is planning to use those bricks to create a new memorial on the old fairground property once redevelopment begins in the spring of next year.


If one of the bricks is yours, you can contact the Michigan Land Bank to reserve it by calling (517) 335-8212 or emailing the staff at landbank@michigan.gov


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