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Contact: Lee Jameson, 231-326-5134
The Historical Society of Michigan recently awarded Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore a State History Award for Outstanding Restoration and Preservation of the Port Oneida Rural Historic District. Superintendent Dusty Shultz was presented the award at the Historical Society’s State History Conference held in Bay City on September 22, 2006. One of only two awards presented this year in the category of restoration and preservation, the award recognized the park’s effort in placing the district on the National Register of Historic Places, and initiating a community partnership program that is helping to preserve and restore the historic resources of Port Oneida.
The program of partnerships between the park and nonprofit organizations includes the use of volunteers, special events, workshops, and grants, and has resulted in significant improvements to the district beyond those provided by limited federal funding. The partnership program also has introduced arrangements whereby selected non-profit organizations can adopt historic properties for uses compatible with the historic district, in exchange for renovations and restoration done in accordance with the Secretary of Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation of Historic Buildings.
The award nomination particularly noted the efforts of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Interpretive Ranger Bill Herd and Historic Architect Kimberly Mann who have been instrumental in advancing the research, planning, advocacy, and awareness of the Port Oneida Rural Historic District. They were deeply involved with the district’s nomination to the National Register of Historic Places in 1997 and have been instrumental with coordination and support of volunteers and events like the Port Oneida Fair. The Port Oneida Fair presents rural traditions and draws over 4,000 visitors annually to explore the buildings and see demonstrations and exhibits reflective of the agricultural and community history.
A few of the park partners were profiled in the award nomination to provide a glimpse of the benefits resulting from these partnerships and the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore gratefully acknowledges their contributions:
Preserve Historic Sleeping Bear (Preserve) is a grass roots organization formed in 1998 to ensure the preservation of the historic resources of the Lakeshore. Preserve has helped to stabilize several of the Port Oneida buildings and landscape features, and they restored and occupy the Charles Olsen house at M-22 and Port Oneida Road.
Glen Arbor Art Association (GAAA) is a well-established community arts association. GAAA has accomplished a great deal of restoration work on the Thoreson farmstead and each summer they teach a variety of classes in the farm buildings – turned art studios there.
Shielding Tree Nature Center (STNC) was formed in 1992 to offer the community the opportunity to develop a personal relationship with nature. Beginning in 1998, STNC began restoring the Lawr Farmstead, becoming the first adaptive use partner in Port Oneida shortly thereafter. STNC was housed at the Lawr Farm until 2006.
MichiganBarn Preservation Network (MBPN) celebrated the tenth anniversary of their partnership with the Lakeshore in 2006. Each year we have worked together on a hands-on workshop which teaches restoration skills and renovates one of the park’s many barns and agricultural buildings.
Michigan State University Horticultural Center and the Leelanau Conservation District are organizations that have patterned similar partnerships to the barn workshops. Since 2005, they have conducted annual pruning workshops that serve to teach pruning methods for old fruit trees while providing desperately needed work on the many small orchards in Port Oneida.
The Port Oneida Rural Historic District is an excellent example of the late 19th and early 20th century farms of the Midwest. This area is the largest intact agricultural district in the National Park System and the largest historic agricultural district in public ownership in the country.