Passionate Advocates: MAF Evans-Graham Award Supporters Jeanne Graham and Park Smith

Park and Lynn Smith in Havana, Cuba

Jeanne Graham, Hon. Aff. AIAMI

Since the Michigan Architectural Foundation began, the dedication of its donors and board members has been instrumental in programs that are connecting people with architecture and its impact on our lives..

For Jeanne Graham, becoming an ardent supporter of architecture started young, after growing up in a mid-century modern home, and attending the Eliel Saarinen-designed Cranbrook Kingswood School. “I was surrounded by nature and great architecture, and being in that lovely environment had a real impact on me,” she remarks. Graham met late husband Ralph on a blind date to the Detroit Institute of Arts in 1961. Together, they built a life filled with art and architecture, raising two sons in what she calls “a wanna-be Frank Lloyd Wright house,” and befriending architects like David Evans, noted for his preservation work. 

When Evans passed away in 1998, “It was Ralph’s idea to make a statement on his behalf,” explains Graham. Through her family’s Clannad Foundation, they established MAF’s Evans-Graham Memorial Preservation Award, which provides vital funding to protect and restore landmark buildings throughout Michigan. Graham serves on the award jury, volunteers with Cranbrook, and leads a dementia care group, among other interests. “I love being able to support important causes, and the legacy of individuals like my husband and David.”

History has always been intertwined with architect Park Smith’s life. Raised in Flint by an artist mother and a travel agent father, his early travels sparked Smith’s interest in history and architecture, and benefit him today in his role as jury chair for the annual MAF Evans-Graham Memorial Preservation Award. “Preserving architecture is an important part of preserving our history, says Smith.  “I’m proud that through my involvement with MAF, I am helping make people think about buildings and the role they play in telling the stories of our history.”

Since retiring from practice in 2009, Smith and wife Lynne have traveled the world. He also serves on MAF’s Programs Committee, and has been an active member of the Flint Historic District Commission, and an adjunct professor at Baker College, teaching courses on the history of architecture.

Jeanne Graham and Park Smith share a love of architecture, and have found the MAF as the vehicle through which they demonstrate it. We are all the beneficiaries.