September 19, 2017
Saginaw Valley State University has awarded the 2017-18 Stuart D. and Vernice M. Gross Award for Literature to author Drew Philp for his book, "A $500 House in Detroit: Rebuilding an Abandoned Home and an American City. The award is part of SVSU’s community-minded commitment to recognize exceptional writing within Michigan.
The book describes the story of Philp moving to Detroit, with no friends, job, or home, with the hopes of making a difference in the run-down, almost abandoned city. There, he purchased a house for $500, tore out almost everything inside—leaving only the framework— and began remodeling.
Set in Detroit, this true story intimately portrays the current growth of this once-thriving American city. The book guides the reader through Detroit's rich history and addresses many of the city's current issues, including gentrification and the battles among the social classes.
Philp will visit SVSU in the early months of 2018, when he will accept this award as well as visit classes on campus to share his experiences with SVSU students. The University of Michigan graduate also will receive a $1,000 prize.
Established by the late Stuart D. Gross and his wife, Vernice, the Gross Award for Literature is administered by SVSU. Winners are selected by a panel of judges from SVSU's staff and faculty. Judges this year were Ashley Blinstrub, research and assessment librarian; M. Patricia Cavanaugh, professor of English; Catherine Curtis, reference librarian; Jules Gehrke, associate professor of History; and Carlos Ramet, associate dean of the College of Arts & Behavioral Sciences.
Employed for many years as a journalist with The Saginaw News, Gross joined the SVSU staff in the school's early years and served in a variety of public affairs roles. He was recognized as a regional historian and published several books. Among his writings are, "Saginaw: A History of the Land and City," "When Timber was King," and "Where There is a Will." Following his retirement from SVSU, Gross wrote and produced a play, "Let's Have Lunch Sometime." He died in 1996; Mrs. Gross, in 2001.