Owosso historical director resigns post

Robert Doran poses beside one of the 30 art works in the “Fragments in Time” exhibit at the Shiawassee Arts Center in this file image from 2017.

OWOSSO — Robert Doran, the director of the Owosso Historical Commission for nearly five years, tendered his resignation to the city Wednesday morning, effective immediately.

Doran, the commission’s first and only director, was in charge of what he named the “Curwood Collection,” which includes Curwood Castle, Comstock Pioneer Cabin, Woodard Paymaster Building, Amos Gould House and the Ivan Conger Archive Room.

Owosso City Manager Nathan confirmed the resignation Wednesday, adding “the city doesn’t comment on personnel matters.”

“This was Robert’s decision. He’s been here five years, and we thank him for his service. It’s a tough job sometimes. We wish him the best in the future,” Henne said.

Doran declined to comment to The Argus-Press about his resignation.

Among Doran’s accomplishments during his tenure were the Made in Owosso event; restoration of museum paintings; renovations inside and outside Curwood Castle, Comstock Cabin and Paymaster Building; curated exhibits; and a History Suitcase program at local elementary schools.

Doran also opened the Curwood Collection during the summer for the first time, created partnerships with other local charitable organizations and spearheaded changing the Historical Commission’s status to a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

“Probably Robert’s biggest accomplishments was for getting the millage on the ballot,” said Carolyn Ebert, chairwoman of the Historical Commission, referring to a 1-mill levy that passed last November benefiting local parks and historical sites in the city.

Ebert said the millage is generating $125,000 per year during the life of the two-year millage for historical preservation, including repairs in all the museums, an updated heating and cooling system where the paintings are kept, fix the roof at Gould House and other improvements.

“That money will help a lot with our historical facilities,” Ebert said. “We will miss (Robert) and we thank him for his incredible and extensive accomplishments. We wholeheartedly wish him luck in his future endeavors — he’s going to do great.”

Doran was born and raised in Manhattan. Since the age of 7, he wanted to be an opera singer and strove to make that dream come true, studying at the University of Miami until he was offered a position at the Miami Opera, where he sang for four years. He then moved to Boston, singing at the Symphony Hall and Tanglewood, where he worked with many of the greats, including Jessye Norman.

After he moved back to New York, he took a job on Wall Street in the marketing field. It was at this job he watched and witnessed the horrors of the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center.

After that, he became an artist. By 2005, he had three art shows in different states around the country.

He later moved to Asbury, New Jersey, where he bought a hotel with a business partner. They renovated the hotel — gutting it completely — before opening it, as well as an art gallery, health spa and restaurant and lounge. His last stop before making his way to Owosso was working at Avadon Divers in Belize as the operations and dive director.

He accepted his position with the Historical Commission in September 2014.

Ebert said the Historical Commission is expected to discuss its next move at its meeting set for 6 p.m. Aug. 19 at Curwood Castle.

“I do think we need someone to fill that role,” she said.

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