Glen Haven Village Historic District Landscape

Glen Haven Main Street looking toward Lake Michigan in winter
Glen Haven Main Street in winter, with the Carriage House, Sleeping Bear Inn, and Cannery with Lake Michigan in the distance.

NPS / Kerry Kelly (Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes)

Located within Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Glen Haven Village Historic District contains 13 acres abutting Sleeping Bear Bay in Northern Michigan. The linear Glen Haven Road defines the district layout with residences, commercial buildings, and black locust trees arranged along the route. Historically significant for the period 1864-1931, the district provides excellent examples of vernacular architecture, a nineteenth-century cordwood station, and steamboat stop. Originally a marine transportation company-operated village, Glen Haven provided goods and services for passing steamboats and later served as a tourist destination.

Landscape Description
A metal signal tower rises to a point over a small building and bare trees.
South-facing view of the Glen Haven Signal Tower in 2014.

NPS / Jackson

The location and available resources of Glen Haven determined its historic use. Stands of pine and hemlock located in close proximity to Sleeping Bear Bay offered opportunity for enterprising individuals to profit. Charles C. McCarty, an early settler, built a sawmill and dock in the area around 1865. In 1867, the Northern Transportation Company purchased the property to support its operations. The company’s steamships required a consistent supply of cordwood to fuel travel between Chicago and New York. With the deep off-shore water of the bay and the protection provided by the site's geography, Glen Haven was an ideal docking location. Although the original dock no longer exists, several structures related to the lumbering and maritime industry operations remain.

A 50 feet tall U.S. Weather Bureau storm signal tower stands between the D.H. Day Store and Day house. Estimated to date to 1914, the tower was once part of the U.S. Lifesaving Service efforts to inform passing ships of weather conditions. The towers typically sat anchored to the dock.
Exterior of D. H. Day General Store and Ranger Station
Glen Haven D. H. Day General Store Exterior, now a Ranger Station, with Lake Michigan in the background.

NPS / Kerry Kelly (Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes)

Sleeping Bear Inn and the two-story D. H. Day Store remain extant and contribute to the district’s historic identity. Sleeping Bear Inn, a two-story, L-shaped wood frame building constructed by McCarty ca. 1864, housed business and leisure travelers. During its restoration in 1928, workers enlarged the building and added concrete sidewalks. Construction of the general store roughly coincided with establishment of the inn. In later years, the general store became D.H. Day Store after David Henry Day, Northern Transportation Company agent and later owner of Glen Haven village.

The Sleeping Bear Inn is the best surviving example of a frontier hotel in the Sleeping Bear Dunes and Leelanau County areas. It served as a home for workers in the area, a stopping off point for settlers before they moved on, and a resort hotel for both summer and winter seasons.

After a decline in cordwood demand, the community opened the Glen Haven Canning Company to maintain the village economy in the mid-1920s. The Canning Company building currently serves as the Cannery Boat Museum. Additional structures include a blacksmith shop constructed of hand-hewn timbers, a generator building, and several residences. A majority of the residential structures consist of one or two stories, clapboard siding, and gable roofs. The uniformity of the residencies creates a simple yet cohesive vernacular style.
Bare locust trees in a row along Glen Haven Road
Locust trees along Glen Haven Road in 2014.

NPS / Jackson

In addition to the built structures, vegetation helps to enhance Glen Haven’s historic identity. Scrub, grassland, and forest surround the district, which appear similar to its setting during the period of significance. Other surviving vegetation includes the Dutchman’s pipe vine growing on the southwest corner of the D.H. Day Store and black locust trees. The 34 black locust trees along the west and east side of Glen Haven Road reinforce the district’s spatial organization.

The existing features enable the district to convey its historical identity in the areas of maritime history, transportation, commerce, and outdoor recreation. Glen Haven Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983 with supplementary documentation added in 1990. Today, visitors can experience the historic district for themselves, including the Cannery Boat Museum and fully-restored general store and blacksmith shop.
Single story cannery building is lined with windows and doors
Glen Haven Canning Company Building in 2014

NPS / Jackson

Quick Facts

  • Cultural Landscape Type: Vernacular
  • National Register Significance Level: National
  • National Register Significance Criteria: A, B
  • Period of Significance: 1864-1931
Maritime history: 1864-1931
Transportation: 1864-1931
Commerce: 1864-1931
Outdoor Recreation: 1920-1931

Part of a series of articles titled Cultural Landscapes of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Last updated: December 9, 2019