Work Begins to Save the Kraitz Log Cabin

25 November 2015

Preserve Historic Sleeping Bear volunteers have begun the final push to restore the oldest building on the Lakeshore’s mainland—the Kraitz Cabin.

Here’s the scoop on the work being done to this historic structure and how Preserve Historic Sleeping Bear plans to use the building after its finished next spring.

[source: phsb.org]

There are over 350 historic structures and features in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore: farmhouses, schoolhouses, a lighthouse and several log cabins. One that might be missed however, is the Kraitz Cabin.

Built about 1860, it is not just the only surviving pioneer cabin in the Lakeshore and the oldest structure on the mainland portion of the park, but it is also architecturally significant as an excellent example of log construction by a skilled craftsman. It is one-of-a-kind and its preservation is a physical reminder of the early years of European settlement in Northwest Lower Michigan.

Preserving History, One Log At A Time

Those who have been watching the cabins rapid deterioration over the years will be delighted to know that preservation work has begun by Preserve Historic Sleeping Bear. While stabilization work has taken place over the past two years, real restoration began last September when PHSB volunteers removed the badly damaged roof and gable ends in preparation for the major project of removing and replacing rotten logs.

The process took another leap forward a few weeks ago after PHSB contracted with a log homebuilder who will skillfully remove the damaged logs, hew new logs, re-create the dovetail corner joints and set the new logs in place. Blue Bay Builders of Glen Arbor donated huge hemlock trees for the project. Lakeshore personnel provided transport of the trees to the job site.

Looking To Spring

The first generation of settlers in the Lakeshore built log homes. Folks who settled in Port Oneida and North Unity came from areas of northern Europe with a long tradition of log construction. The cabins that they built had exceptional craftsmanship.

Once the new logs have been set in place, much of the finishing work will be done by PHSB volunteers next spring to rebuild the roof and gable ends, repair windows and doors, and remove and replace chinking between the logs. When completed, the cabin will appear just as it did when it was first built and will be a place for school classes and families to have a glimpse of pioneer life.

The Kraitz cabin is located on CR-669 about 0.8 miles south of M-22. For restoration updates, check out Preserve Historic Sleeping Bear’s Facebook page. The log restoration crew will be working through November and we will be posting pictures of their progress.