Our Work

“Reviving the Past to Inspire the Present”

def. of Revive: 1. To bring back to life or consciousness; resuscitate. 2. To impart new health, vigor, or spirit to. 3. To restore to use


How would we feel if we allowed over 360 historic buildings and elements, big and small to deteriorate and disappear from the landscape?  These symbols of our past are nationally unique and offer much to inspire us today and in the future. With your help, Preserve Historic Sleeping Bear is working to revive this sleeping history – building by building, story by story.

What We Do


Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore bears its share of a nationwide National Park Service maintenance backlog of 9 billion dollars. With over 150 structures in Sleeping Bear Dunes in poor or fair condition, Preserve has been working for more than a decade to bridge the gap between the need and the available resources. 

Repairing buildings as old as the civil war can be complex. Our projects require money, good craftsmanship, skilled volunteers, and a commitment to maintaining historic integrity.  Restoration, stabilization or rehabilitation of one building alone involves multiple projects.


We also work to help others feel a connection to this history and discover for themselves how it can enrich their lives. Our many interpretive venues share the stories of those who settled and survived here in the late 1800s. Reviving the past – saving the history and telling the story – is what we do. The buildings and the stories offer real facts about a hard life, but don’t be surprised if you feel a sense of quiet appreciation and imagination that makes this history come alive for you!

Catch the Vision

Preserve Historic Sleeping Bear has a mission but we also have a vision.

Our vision is that all historic properties in the Park are preserved. That funds have been secured to ensure they will safely endure far into the future.  That many simply grace the landscape as picturesque embellishments of the beauty in which they are set. Visitors respectfully and curiously stroll the properties, peek in windows, sit on the front porch – moved to contemplation, imagination and inspiration.

A few farms have a different destiny -  chosen to be revived and given new life through adaptive-reuse. Our first step towards re-use was in restoring and becoming the caretaking partner for the Charles and Hattie Olsen House that welcomes visitors to Port Oneida as our home office and an interpretive center.

Over the next three years we’ll have a special focus on the adaptive-use aspect of our vision. We have identified places for use as a living history farm, and unique accommodations that will be in keeping with the character of the landscape while aiding their preservation for years to come.

Making a difference with your help

We invite you to catch the vision that has been the dreams of many since we started this work in 1998.  These resources belong to all of us  – and it will take all of us to care for them. All we need is you.  If you share our vision, we invite you to Become a Steward of Sleeping Bear.


Volunteer at our work projects or on an individual basis coordinated with our project coordinator.


Sign up to be caretakers of one of these historic structures as a family or business.


Perhaps you have a business that is conducive with park goals for our adaptive-use program where you can lease a building.


Sign up to be caretakers of one of the landscape areas to keep clear from native and encroaching vegetation.


Work with us at our annual field clearing project to clear encroaching vegetation on the farmscapes.


Our docents, tour guides, Port Oneida Fair, exhibits and publications share the story.


We can’t do our work without your financial support.


Consider being an event or project sponsor!


From tshirts and notecards to pastel prints and historic books.


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