Historic Properties Management


Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore was established by Act of Congress October 21, 1970. Public Law 91-479 states, "…the Congress finds that certain outstanding natural features, including forests, beaches, dune formations, and ancient glacial phenomena, exist along the mainland shore of Lake Michigan and on certain nearby islands in Benzie and Leelanau Counties, Michigan, and that such features ought to be preserved in their natural setting and protected from developments and uses which would destroy the scenic beauty and natural character of the area." The Congress also directed that "…the Secretary (of the Interior) shall administer and protect Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in a manner which provides for recreational opportunities consistent with the maximum protection of the natural environment within the area."

The legislation also required that, "…the Secretary shall prepare and implement a land and water use management plan, which shall include specific provisions for - (2) protection of scenic, scientific, and historic features contributing to public enjoyment." (Emphasis added)

Lakeshore Mission:
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore was established by an act of Congress and formed from lands purchased from private owners and from lands and water areas donated by the State of Michigan. The Lakeshore mission is to preserve outstanding natural features including forests, beaches, dunes and ancient glacial phenomena along 100 km (64 miles) of Lake Michigan shoreline, in order to perpetuate the natural setting for the benefit and enjoyment of the public, and to protect it from developments and inappropriate uses that would destroy its scenic beauty, scientific and recreational value. The Lakeshore provides the infrastructure necessary to access park resources i.e. boating access, road and trail access and the facilities to support outdoor recreation, interpretation, education and other park uses i.e. campgrounds, picnic areas, interpretive facilities, restrooms etc.. Included within the boundaries are inland lakes and rivers, glacial features such as ice block holes and moraines, and habitat necessary for the continued survival of threatened and endangered species such as Pitcher’s thistle and piping plover. Some fifty percent of Lakeshore is designated for potential wilderness. Cultural resources include remnants of prehistoric American Indian use, logging, farming, maritime commerce and outdoor recreation.

Lakeshore Purpose:
The scenic beauty and natural character of the Lakeshore is protected for the benefit, inspiration, education, recreation and enjoyment of the public.

Lakeshore Significance:
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is an essential and major component of the Great Lakes ecosystem with over 100 km of Lake Michigan shoreline, inland lakes and rivers, glacial land forms (kettles, bogs, moraines massive perched sand dunes), and old growth forest remnants. The Lakeshore contains habitat for the continued survival of threatened and endangered species. Approximately fifty percent of the park is designated for potential wilderness. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is a destination recreation resource accessible to residents of major population centers (Chicago and Detroit). The Lakeshore has extensive evidence of human history including archeological resources of prehistoric Indian occupation, early European settlement, agriculture and logging, and Lake Michigan maritime development including transportation, fishing and lifesaving.

General Management Plan:
Before Sleeping Bear Dunes was established, a Master Plan was prepared and approved. In 1977, the NPS determined that the initial master plan needed to be revised because the majority of land within the legislated boundary (over 70 percent) had been acquired, more was known about the area’s resources, and the public’s perception of the natural Lakeshore’s role in the region had changed. As a result of that planning effort, a General Management Plan was prepared and approved in September 1979.


During the last several years, the National Park Service (NPS) has identified numerous historic buildings and several historic landscapes within Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. These historic properties are in addition to the many historic buildings that have already been identified in previous Lakeshore plans. The National Park Service intends to determine which of these buildings will be preserved and which must be removed. Also to be determined are the impacts that preservation or removal will have on the park's natural and cultural resources and visitor experience. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is undertaking a formal planning process to addresses these issues. The public, other government agencies and private organizations will be an important part of this process. The National Park Service will prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) as part of the plan. An amendment to the park's General Management Plan (GMP, 1979) may be required and will be prepared as part of this process.

Port Oneida Rural Historic District has recently been placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Because of the many buildings and issues involved, it would seem reasonable to focus a preservation plan on just this one area. However, any plan that does not consider the number of buildings that are already being preserved and the other historically significant buildings that have recently been identified is not realistic. For this reason, the NPS has determined that the planning effort needs to consider all historic structures. The Historic Properties Management Plan will address all of the park's historic buildings that have not been addressed in a previous plan. Park Service staff and the public need to be aware of the numerous buildings that have already been identified for preservation, the whole set of historic buildings for which there is not yet a management treatment, the privately owned historic and non-historic buildings, and the non-historic buildings maintained for visitor services and park administration. A diagram on page two identifies these various groups of buildings and which ones will be directly addressed by the Historic Properties Management Plan. In addition to buildings the plan will address structures and historic landscapes.

Following public meetings on March 20 and 21, the public will have 30 days to provide comments. After the comment period, park staff will prepare a draft plan that contains alternatives and an assessment of their impacts. The public will have 60 days to comment on the draft plan. Public meetings are tentatively scheduled for July 24 and October 16 to discuss the draft plan. Revisions will be made and the final plan completed. The public will have 30 days to review the final (during a no action period) before a Record of Decision is prepared, the plan approved and implementation is begun.


The National Park Service has already made a major commitment to preserve historically significant buildings located within the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Most of these buildings are associated with the maritime history of the Great Lakes. The Lakeshore has accomplished many of its preservation projects in spite of limited funding. Whenever possible, the Lakeshore adapts historic buildings to meet its operational needs. In the past, much preservation work has been accomplished by using historic buildings for ranger stations, interpretative facilities, maintenance support and employee housing.

Glen Haven Area: A Development Concept Plan has been prepared for the village, which identifies preservation treatment and uses for the historic buildings. A Historic Structures Report has been completed for the Sleeping Bear Inn. Plans call for this building to be included in a historic structures leasing program. The Cannery in Glen Haven has been preserved and is used to exhibit the Lakeshore’s historic boat collection. The Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes and other volunteers provide the staff to operate the museum and to restore the boats. Using money from the new Recreation Fee Demonstration Program, the Lakeshore has begun to adaptively restore the Glen Haven General Store. The upstairs will be used for the Leelanau District Ranger Offices and the downstairs store section will be a combination exhibit and information center. The blacksmith shop received major structural repair more than a decade ago. Replacing the floor and the forge is a high priority so that the Lakeshore's extensive collection of blacksmithing equipment can be exhibited. Several buildings in Glen Haven have been painted and had roofs replaced or repaired.

The Life-Saving Service Station at Sleeping Bear Point has been restored and museum exhibits installed. Daily operation of the museum was halted a few years ago because of limitations in the Lakeshore's budget. For the last three years, volunteers from the Lakeshore’s Friends group have been providing the staff to open the museum on a regular schedule.

South Manitou Village and North Manitou Island Life-Saving Service Station: The Life-Saving Service Stations on both islands have been restored for use as ranger stations. Most of the buildings in the village on South Manitou Island have been rehabilitated for use as seasonal quarters.

The South Manitou Lighthouse has become an unofficial symbol of the Lakeshore. The exterior of the structure has been preserved. A Historic Structures Report is being written. The report will document the building's history and condition. It will also make recommendations about restoring the interior and the advisability of putting exhibits in the connected lighthouse keeper’s dwelling.

Some agricultural properties have been identified for preservation. On South Manitou Island, the George Conrad Hutzler and the August Beck farms are being preserved and the open fields maintained. The George Johann Hutzler log barn is also being preserved within the wilderness area. The island schoolhouse has been preserved and the South Manitou Island Memorial Society has expressed an interest in restoring the interior and developing exhibits for the building.

The National Park Service has proposed that all the Lakeshore's maritime historic sites be a part of a large maritime landscape historic district connected by the Manitou Passage Underwater Preserve. This would include the lighthouse, life-saving service stations, Glen Haven and South Manitou Village. This is one of the most extensive historic maritime resources in the country and the proposed maritime landscape historic district is considered to be nationally significant.

D. H. Day Campground:
The log cabin at the D.H. Day Campground is being preserved and will be used as an education center with support provided by the Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes and grants from other organizations.


All federal agencies are required by the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) to inventory their property and identify structures that may have historic importance. Because of the numerous buildings located within the Lakeshore, this has been an ongoing process for many years. Inventory and evaluation of maritime related buildings was completed several years ago. In recent years, this inventory process has focused on agricultural properties. The National Park Service commissioned four studies. The first, A Garden Apart, explored the agricultural history of Benzie and Leelanau Counties and provides a basis for evaluating the importance of farms within the local area. The three other reports provided detailed histories of specific areas: South Manitou Island, Port Oneida, and North Manitou Island. Lakeshore staff, Regional Office specialists, university professors, and representatives from the State Historic Preservation Office have evaluated these and other areas of the Lakeshore. Based on these reports and surveys, many buildings have been identified as historically significant.

The criteria used to determine historical significance are the same as the criteria used for determining eligibility for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. These criteria are well established, widely used by federal agencies and non-profit organizations, and suited for a broad range of historic sites. A structure must be at least fifty years old and have integrity of design and materials; that is, it has not been drastically altered. In addition, it must have historical significance because of its association with historic events, persons, architecture or archeology. The importance of the historic significance is also evaluated and a property may be of local, state or national significance. Based on these reports and surveys, the following buildings and landscape districts have been listed or are eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. These are the properties that the Historic Properties Management Plan will address and for which the National Park Service seeks public comment.


Port Oneida Historic Agricultural Landscape: This district has the greatest number of historic buildings and the largest area. Port Oneida has a "State " level of significance on the National Register. Port Oneida is significant as a historic agricultural landscape that has a high level of integrity of farmstead buildings and landscape features with few modern intrusions. The area represents the farm landscape of Northern European settlers in the upper mid-west region. The farm buildings are skillfully crafted and are typical of the architectural style of the region and era.

An essential part of the historic resource at Port Oneida is the land and the natural and manmade features upon it. These include such items as old fields, orchards, roads, cemeteries, buildings, vistas, forests and wetlands. These individual elements combine to create the complete historic scene. While many parks have a restored historic farm, only a handful throughout the country have a historic farm landscape of the size and quality of Port Oneida. There is no comparable site in public ownership in the mid-west.

The Port Oneida Rural Historic District contains 20 structures and 121 buildings. There are 18 farmsteads, five private, six owned by the NPS with use and occupancy retention rights for a few more years, and seven owned and in possession of the NPS.

In addition to its historic importance, Port Oneida also has great value as a scenic and recreational resource. The historic landscape is also an excellent location for educational programs of many types.

Tweedle Farm Landscape: The Tweedle farmstead is located south of Empire. Its level of significant is undetermined. The buildings are in good condition. The modest farm contains an array of specialized agricultural buildings, which demonstrate a progressive attitude toward agricultural improvement. The Tweedle School sits at one corner of the landscape adjacent to the Pelky barn. The house is used for seasonal employee housing and the barns are used for storage. The fields are being maintained in part for their historic value and in part to provide wildlife habitat and to show the banks of a massive ancient river that carried water from the melting glaciers.

Bufka/Kropp/ Eitzen Farm Landscape: Four farms adjacent to Saint Paul's Lutheran Church, on M-22 near Good Harbor, combine to from a small rural historic district. These include the two Kropp farms, the Eitzen farm and the Bufka farm. The church and its cemetery form the hub of the district. Important buildings are missing from the Kropp farms and the landscape features are not as pronounced as in other Lakeshore districts. The district is locally significant.

The Bufka farmstead, on the west-side of M-22, is an excellent example of a well-preserved complete farmstead. The farm has always been in the Bufka family and the original cabin is still present. The site is architecturally significant because of the type, style, number and condition of the farm buildings. The Bufka family has a use and occupancy until 2004. The Bufka farm is individually eligible for the Register. The level of significance is undetermined but is likely to be more than local.

Treat Farm Landscape: This farm is located south of Empire at the base of Old Baldy Dune in an area that is proposed as wilderness. A lane about a kilometer long leads through the hardwood forest to the open field of the farmstead. It is a striking setting and conveys a strong impression of the frontier farms that once existed throughout the mid-west. The barns and sheds are in poor condition but the house is sound as is the root cellar and dome shaped concrete garage. The Treat farm level of significant has not yet been determined. Most of its significance is derived from the setting and landscape elements. The buildings are not being used.

Shalda Log Cabin: This is a small log cabin built in the late 1850's or early 1860's located at Shalda Corners (M-22 and 669). The cabin is built of hand hewn squared timbers. The exact history of this building is unknown but it was built by one of the Bohemian families that settled North Unity and Shalda Corners. The cabin is one of the few pioneer cabins remaining in Leelanau, Benzie and Grand Traverse Counties and may be the second oldest building in the Lakeshore. The cabin's level of significant has not been determined. The cabin is vacant.

Manitou Island Association Historic District: Throughout its post settlement history, large tracts of North Manitou Island were owned by single landowners or partners who attempted farming as a corporate enterprise. The Manitou Island Association (MIA) was the last group to farm the island. Many of the buildings that they used for their corporate farm business still exist in the village area. The sawmill that they built is the last remaining steam powered original sawmill in the state and is exceptionally significant for a state where logging is such an important part of its history. Most of the buildings built by the MIA have a distinctive design style. The district is significant at the state level. The Lakeshore is using many of the main buildings.


Ken-Tuck-U-Inn: The inn is located on M-22 near Crystal Lake. Bertie Bancroft lived in Aral on the family farm, the first village structure. When the town died following the logging era, tourism was growing in importance. Mr. Bancroft built the inn in 1925 and moved his family from the deserted town. Bertie and his wife Julia operated the inn, which catered to the new automobile travelers. They raised much of the food served at the inn right on the land. Several area farmers operated their homes as restaurants or inns in the same manner. The Ken-Tuck-U-Inn reflects how the local population adapted to the new tourist industry. The Ken-Tuck-U-Inn is also the last chapter of the story of Aral. The building is vacant.

Boekeloo Lodge: The log cabin located on Boekeloo Road at the south end of the Lakeshore was built about the turn of the century as a home for a family that farmed, hunted and fished for subsistence. By the 1940's the Boekeloo family had purchased the cabin for recreational use. The Boekeloo family has used the cabin since that time. The picturesque cabin blends perfectly with the wild setting and small pond. The cabin is under use and occupancy retention until 2005.

Rustic Cabins: There are several small rustic cabins located on the mainland that may be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. Additional research is needed to make a determination. If it is determined that they are eligible, they will be added to the list of buildings to be considered for preservation as part of the Historic Properties Management Plan.

North Manitou Village: In 1987 the National Park Service, with public involvement, prepared a Development Concept Plan (DCP) for North Manitou Island. Except for the village area, all of the island was to be managed as a wilderness. Subsequent to the plan approval, the National Register status of all the buildings in the village has changed. The Life-Saving Service Station, which had been evaluated at a state level of significance, has been determined to be qualified as a National Historic Landmark, the highest level of recognition. The Manitou Island Association agricultural related buildings and Cottage Row have been determined eligible for the National Register. Because of the prospective changes in National Register status, the plan will be amended. The section of the North Manitou Island DCP that addresses the village will be reconsidered as part of this plan.

Cottage Row: In 1893, Carrie Blossom and her husband and several friends vacationed on North Manitou Island near her family's new home. Before the end of their stay arrangements were made to build cottages. The first cottage to be built was the Monte Carlo house. The next four structures were constructed in 1894 with the same basic floor plan, believed to have been derived from the Monte Carlo floor plan. These four cottages were constructed with materials from the Manufacturer’s Building of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, Colombian Exposition. The last structure to be built was the Katie Shepherd Hotel in 1895. This two-story structure was built for Mrs. William Shepherd and her daughter Katherine in the style of their former home in New Orleans.

The cottages are representative of the summer homes that developed along the shores of the Great Lakes during the last decade of the 19th century and the first decades of the 20th century. The cottages are located in the North Manitou Island wilderness area just outside the present village historic district.

Other Old Buildings: Not all old buildings are historic, including those that are in good condition. If an older Lakeshore building is not on the list to be considered for preservation, it is because it has been determined by cultural resource professionals not to be eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.


The goals for the Historic Properties Management Plan are:

1. Identify landscapes and buildings that should or may be preserved.

2. Identify appropriate preservation strategies.

3. Identify landscapes and buildings that will not be preserved and strategies for appropriate treatment.

4. Identify how local communities, other interested groups, and the Lakeshore can protect, preserve and adaptively use these landscapes and buildings.


Persons interested in commenting need to be aware of several factors that limit the range of suggestions that can be realistically considered. These constraints are the result of legislation, NPS policy, resource concerns, safety, and funding limitations of the National Park Service.

NPS budget and backlog: As noted above, the National Park Service has already made a substantial commitment to historic preservation at Sleeping Bear Dunes. The lighthouse, three Life-Saving Service Stations, three coastal villages, two island farmsteads, a school house, log barn and cabin totaling 41 major and 23 minor historic structures are maintained by the NPS. With a finite park budget and historic preservation resources, funds for the preservation of these buildings are not limitless. NPS visitor services have been reduced and maintenance of structures of all types has been deferred. The Lakeshore has a considerable backlog of maintenance needs.

This is a problem that is service-wide. A recent NPS study reported to the President that the system has some 25,000 historic buildings at 369 parks. Data for 17,436 structures have been entered into a historic structures database. Twelve per cent of the structures were reported in poor condition and 41% are in fair condition. The estimated cost of repair and maintenance for the system's historic structures is over one billion dollars.

"Based on identified maintenance, rehabilitation, and development needs, the NPS does not have and never has had enough funds or staff to care for all resources in its custody. Contributing to the fundamental problem are unrealistic expectations reflected in and furthered by park planning documents, an overwhelming deferred maintenance workload, and a lack of multidisciplinary focus to set and achieve realistic goals in cooperative efforts recognizing the value of all aspects of park operations.

Funds and staff are unlikely to increase and may be reduced. The NPS must therefore reevaluate critically its processes for setting priorities for resource preservation. Unless it makes explicit rational decisions about what it can and can not preserve and maintain, it will continue to lose resources by chance rather than by choice." (Preserving Historic Structures in the National Park System: A Report to the President. 1997 page 9.)

Realistically, it is unlikely that the NPS would try to maintain more than one farmstead, a barn and a few outbuildings on the mainland for the interpretation of agriculture. Other means would need to be found to preserve the other farm buildings.

Wilderness Designation: Four large tracts of land within the Lakeshore would be managed as wilderness as identified in the Lakeshore's General Management Plan and 1981 Revised Wilderness Recommendations. Wilderness legislation requires that the Lakeshore follow these recommendations until Congress votes on the proposal. The creation of islands of non-wilderness within wilderness zones is not permitted. However, the preservation of minor historic structures and sites within wilderness is permitted by National Park Service policy.

Modern Farming Practices: The Lakeshore staff is greatly concerned about the effects of modern farming practices on the natural resources of the Lakeshore. Pesticides, chemical fertilizers, herbicides and feed lots have direct negative impacts on wildlife and water quality. The Lakeshore's light sandy soils are especially susceptible to wind erosion following plowing. Standard mowing practices injure nesting grassland birds and grazing disrupts grassland ecosystems. The Lakeshore has sought to limit or eliminate these practices to protect the natural communities within the boundary.

Visitor Access to Farm Landscapes: It is desirable that Lakeshore visitors have access to park lands for appropriate recreational uses. Nearly 100 private residences remain in the Lakeshore. Proposals that prevent visitor use of large sections of Lakeshore land are not acceptable. Extensive areas of fenced land for field crops or grazing are not desirable. Visitors need to have access to open fields for hiking, wildlife observation, hunting and other recreational and educational uses.

Appropriate Use: Many potential adaptive uses for these historic properties may be economically feasible but are not appropriate for a National Lakeshore setting. Only activities that are compatible with the purpose of the Lakeshore are permitted. The Superintendent has the responsibility and the authority to reject uses that are inappropriate.

Safety: The safety of the public who visits the Lakeshore is of utmost concern. Dangers associated with hazardous sites and toxic materials need to be corrected. The safety concerns associated with proposed activities and vacant structures need to be carefully evaluated.

Residential Use: Most of the historic buildings in the Lakeshore were acquired from individual families. After eliminating this residential use, per legislation, it would not be appropriate to lease the buildings for residences or summer homes.

Limited Operational Use: While much of the preservation work completed at Sleeping Bear Dunes has been accomplished by adapting buildings for operational uses, the Lakeshore has limited need for additional space. As part of this planning process, the Lakeshore will project the need for office, storage, visitor use and employee housing for the next fifteen years. It is believed that little additional space will be needed.

Historic Preservation is Only One of Many Lakeshore Functions: Preservation of historic buildings is just one of many responsibilities mandated by Congress for the operation of the National Lakeshore. The Lakeshore is also required to protect the natural resources (including threatened and endangered species), eradicate exotic species, monitor air and water quality, and manage wildlife. Providing recreational facilities such as campgrounds, hiking trails, scenic drives and picnic areas is another important effort. Visitor protection and law enforcement duties are major areas of responsibility as are educational services for schools and Lakeshore visitors. Visitor information and exhibits are important services. Environmental clean-up of toxic and hazardous materials found at former house sites and dumps is a costly but essential task to protect the environment and to comply with state and federal law.


There are several tools that can assist in the preservation of Lakeshore historic properties. These include federal laws and National Park Service policies and programs.

Adaptive Use By National Park Service: Identifying an adaptive use for a historic building is an often-used method of preservation for rehabilitation and maintenance of the structure. Many Lakeshore needs for facilities have been filled by using historic structures.

Level of Preservation: There are many different levels of preservation with significant difference in the amount of money and effort required for each. Restoration uses precise historical materials and techniques and is the most expensive. Adaptive restoration rehabilitates a building for a modern use. Preservation replaces damaged materials where needed and may be limited to just the exterior if no interior use is planned. Stabilization uses the most cost effective method to repair the building to prevent deterioration. Mothballing is a technique where a building is preserved or stabilized and then treated so that it may remain unattended for many years. Moldering refers to the slow, natural on-site deterioration with the building eventually becoming an archeological resource.

Private Inholders: Several of the nearly one hundred private inholdings are historic buildings. This means that these buildings are being preserved with private money. Included in this group is the D.H. Day farm, the Manning farm and six farms in the Port Oneida Rural Historic District.

Concessions: Another common method for the preservation of NPS buildings is to use them for concession services. Concessions must provide a needed service that is appropriate to the Lakeshore.

Open Field Management Plan: Several of the old farm fields are maintained as part of the Lakeshore's Open Field Management Plan. The plan recognizes the benefits of retaining some of the open fields. The open fields benefit several wildlife sp

Last updated: April 10, 2015

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