Q:      What is Preserve Historic Sleeping Bear?

A:      Launched in 1998, Preserve is a nationwide model of an historic preservation partnership with a national park.  We are a non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization that is all volunteer with the exception of one part-time Director.  Our first victory was changing the Park’s direction which had begun removal of historic buildings in 1998 due to a projected lack of funding to preserve them.

With over a billion dollars of maintenance backlog in the National Park Service, as a partner, we assist with this dilemma by engaging and empowering the public with the opportunity to preserve what is theirs. 

Though these special places were set aside for the preservation of unique resources and enjoyment of the people, the funds to achieve this clearly fall below the threshold needed.


Q:      What is your mission?

A:      The nuts and bolts of what we do ( pun intended!) is to interpret and safeguard – protect, stabilize, restore, preserve, and advocate for – the historic structures and cultural landscapes of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.


Q:      Where are you located?

A:      We are headquartered in the restored historic Charles and Hattie Olsen House on

Michigan Highway (M-22) just north of Glen Arbor in the Port Oneida Rural Historic District which we rehabilitated in 2004.


Q:      What area is included in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore?

A:      This national park embraces 35 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, as well as North and South Manitou Islands offshore, and comprises almost 71,000 acres.


Q:      How many structures are included in the Lakeshore?

A:      More than 360 historic structures are located within the park boundaries.   One of the most prized historic landscapes in the nation, the Port Oneida Rural Historic District is nestled here.  This 19th century farming community, with its 20 farmsteads, is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.


Q:      Explain your partnership with the National Park Service (NPS)?

A:    As a government entity, NPS is unable to raise funds private donations for historic preservation. 

A special report to the President of the United States entitled, Preserving Historic Structures in the National Park System, recommended, “Cooperative agreements and other partnership agreements to help with the maintenance backlog found in the National Park System.”  Thus, Preserve’s valuable role is clear.  

We have a formal partnership “Friends” agreement with Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, as well as a lease agreement for the Charles and Hattie Olsen house.  The Park’s designated liaison attends our monthly board meetings and helps coordinate our efforts with them.


Q:      What has Preserve accomplished?


  • We have initiated, funded, directly worked on and/or coordinated the completion of several preservation projects through the years.
  • One of our premier projects was the rehabilitation of the Charles and Hattie Olsen House.  Projects take place on the mainland and also on both North and South Manitou Islands.
  • We have provided the park with about .5 million dollars in value.
  • We help restore or maintain native vegetation and historic fields by clearing hundreds of invasive trees and bushes over more than 20 acres of agricultural landscape.
  •  In conjunction with the Michigan Barn Preservation Network, we have co-sponsored annual barn workshops.
  • We initiated and were responsible for securing grant funds and facilitating the planning for the first three years of the annual Port Oneida Fair – A Celebration of Rural Culture.
  • We  offer educational interpretive programs, tours and a walking tour guide, and are designing a permanent exhibit for the Olsen house.


Q:      Do you overlap with other organizations?

A:       Preserve is the only organization that partners with the NPS specifically to save historic structures and cultural landscapes throughout the Lakeshore.  Other organizations have either a much more general focus or have interest only in specific sites.  Preserve has collaborated with these groups to accomplish our mission when it does overlap with theirs.


Q:      How are you funded?

A:      As a 501(c)(3) organization, our funding comes from individual gifts and foundation grants.  We are not funded by the National Park Service.


Q:      How can I become involved?

A:      You can join our team of volunteers.  You can become a member by making a contribution in support of our mission.  You can help underwrite a preservation project.  You can help sponsor educational events and activities.





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