Museum Announces Fundraising Campaign Restored calf barn to house Broomfield Center for Leadership

The Rochester Hills Museum at Van Hoosen Farm has announced plans to build the Broomfield Center for Leadership to house the collection of former Congressman William S. Broomfield and a new leadership training program.

Broomfield served Oakland County in the U. S. House 1957-1993 after serving in the Michigan House and Senate. A native of Royal Oak, his mother was a member of the Taylor family, which was among the early settlers of Stony Creek Village.

The initiative was announced at a dinner April 30 at the Royal Park Hotel. Broomfield, who is now 89 and living in Maryland with his wife Jane, was represented by his daughter and biographer, Nancy Broomfield Aiken. During the event she received a proclamation honoring her father from Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson.

Aiken said her father is “so excited; he’s thrilled” about the Broomfield Center for Leadership. “It’s a huge honor for him and he’s happy to have a place for his memorabilia to go, happy it could be used for research.”

Broomfield served with eight presidents, from Eisenhower to George H. W. Bush. He was ranking member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs from 1975 until his retirement in 1992. He travelled extensively and met numerous world leaders.

But what he’s most remembered for at home is his civility. “What Bill had and what I don’t think we have enough of today … was this civility he brought to the whole game of politics,” Patterson said. “He’s a patriot. He loved his country and he is missed by those of us who served with him.”

When Broomfield retired, he put his leftover campaign funds into a foundation.  “At a time when many people took their war chest home, my dad found an alternative way to continue his service,” Aiken said.

The foundation has committed $100,000 toward the museum’s fundraising campaign. It has also funded the development of a shingles vaccine, the Michigan Eye Bank, St Jude’s Hospital, Children’s Hospital and spina bifida, which affected one of his grandchildren.

 “But our greatest interest has been this gem of a museum,” Aiken said.

In 2004 the museum hosted an exhibit of Broomfield’s memorabilia, and museum supervisor Pat McKay began talking to the Broomfield family about making the arrangement permanent. The Broomfields are willing, but McKay said he can’t do it without more space.

“We want to accept that collection from the Broomfield family,” he said. “The drawings are complete and we’re ready to go. We’re ready to bid them out. We’re just a little short on that cash part.”

Plans call for the collection to be house in a calf barn on the museum site. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the barn was destroyed in a 1991 storm. All that remains of it is the foundation and walls, which will be used in the rebuilding.

The museum is city owned, but plans call for the entire project to be privately funded. Phase One would complete the building envelope. Phase Two would add climate control and accessibility. Phase Three would create an endowment for future operations. Each phase has a price tag of $300,000.

Donations are being accepted through the Community Foundation of Greater Rochester.

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