Fundraising campaign launched to restore Hartwick Pines State Park Memorial Building
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
A fundraising campaign was recently launched to restore a landmark building located on the grounds of the Hartwick Pines State Park.
The Friends of Hartwick Pines started a Go-Fund-Me fundraising account with a goal of raising $100,000 to restore the Hartwick Pines Memorial Building.
In 1927, Karen Hartwick donated the land that is now the Hartwick Pines State Park to what was known as Michigan Department of Conservation.
In 1929, the department erected the building as a memorial to Hartwick’s husband, Major Edward E. Hartwick, who died in action during World War I. The building was designed by Ralph B. Herrick of the architectural firm of Herrick and Simpson. Some additional structures were constructed in the park, including a residence, barn, small campground, and a parking area. However, work was halted by the onset of the Great Depression, and did not resume until 1933, when workers from the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) arrived. CCC workers finished the interior of the memorial building and constructed other buildings in the park.
The memorial building served as the first visitor’s center for the park.
“It was built to be the entrance to the park and a visitor’s center and a memorial to Edward Hartwick, who the park is named after,” said Hillary Pine, the northern Lower Peninsula historian for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
Located close to M-93 in the picnic and day use area, the building served as the visitor’s center until 1995.
“For people that visited the park before 1994, that is where the entrance of the park was located until 1995, the last year it was open to the public and the new visitor’s center was constructed,” Pine said.
Over the last 24 years, the building has sat vacant. But that didn’t mean that it was not inhabited.
Powderpost beetles were living in the memorial building, and caused an infestation. They caused damage to the interior of the building.
“I don’t know too much about them. I just know from a historic standpoint that you don’t want them,” Pine said. “It’s kind of akin to a termite, so they eat wood. You have them if there are little, tiny holes and there is powder-like, really fine sawdust. That’s what it looked like before we had it fumigated. There was just this wooden powder dust covering everything.”
The memorial building was fumigated in 2017 to get rid of the Powderpost beetles. An industrial cleaning firm was brought in to clean up the building.
“We’ve done a lot of work already, but there is a lot more that is still to come,” Pine said.
The memorial building will be open for scheduled guided tours this summer.
“It won’t be open all of the time,” Pine said. “We’re not there yet.”
Wooden columns, which support a porch overhanging the building, need to be replaced. The cedar shake roof on the building also needs to be redone. A formal engineering study will be done to determine the extent of repairs that need to be made to the building.
“It needs quite a bit of work to bring it up to code,” Pine said.
The memorial building is on the National Register of Historic Places, which limits how upgrades can be made to the building to preserve its historic nature.
The funds raised by the Friends of Hartwick Pines can be used as match to apply for grants to help complete the entire project.
“Hopefully, once we have plans for how we want to use the structure, the DNR can apply for grants,” Pine said. “Typically, when you apply for grants, when you have matching funds, you’re more likely to get a grant.”
Input will be solicited from area residents and park visitors to determine the future use of the building.
“We’re very interested in talking to the public this summer, and seeing what kinds of things they would like to see the building used for, but we’re all on the same page that we want to move forward and we want to do it maintaining the building’s historical character,” Pine said.
Park staff will also be collecting visitor’s memories regarding the memorial building in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the Michigan State Park system.
“A lot of people visit the park, and tell us all of their memories of when they were a little kid, and being in the memorial building, and they remember the big stone fire place that is in there,” Pine said. “It’s just this really amazing structure that so many people associate with Hartwick Pines State Park.”
For questions about tours, donations, volunteering or the history of the building the public should contact Pine at (989) 348-2537 or e-mail PineH@Michigan.gov.
Volunteers are also being sought for the tours.
“No experience is necessary, just a love of Hartwick Pines and the willingness to share the building’s history with the public,” Pine said.
For structural questions about the building, the public should contact Denise Dawson at (989) 348-7068 or e-mail DawsonD3@Michigan.gov.