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Northern Michigan In Focus: Hartwick Pines Memorial Building

For almost a generation, the Memorial Building at Hartwick Pines in Grayling has been closed. But, after 24 years it’s back open but did you know why it’s even there?  Corey Adkins shows us in tonight’s Northern Michigan in Focus.

The story of this building at Hartwick Pines outside of Grayling is kind of sad but it’s also kind of romantic. It all started when Edward Hartwick and Karen Michelson fell in love and got married.

“So it’s said that the Hartwick’s liked to come out here and have picnics and this was like their special spot,” said DNR Historian, Hillary Pine.

Kind of ironic seeing as Edward was a successful logger. But when World War 1 was ramping up overseas, he felt the call.

“He wants to do his part so he wants to get back into the army and he accepts a commission as a major and he goes to France. Very sadly when he was in France he contracted spinal meningitis and on Easter Sunday 1918 he ends up passing away,” said Pine.

For years, Karen wanted to find a way to remember her husband.

“She is looking for something very impressive to do to memorialize him as a lumberman and as a Major in the military,” explained Pine.

This is when she met Genevieve Gillette. Genevieve was a huge proponent in Michigan’s state parks.

“She talks to Karen and said “hey why don’t you think about the state park idea” and Karen finds about this land so she buys it and in today’s money that would have been $600,000 and she buys a little over 8,000 acres,” said Pine.

The very next day, Karen turns the property over to the state but puts some conditions on the deed.

“They have to build a road so people can get here, they can’t cut down the trees so she wants to protect that and she wants to build a both a museum to the logging industry and also a building in Edwards honor so ” a memorial building” to commemorate him and that is where are standing,” explained Pine.

The memorial building was a huge attraction for years. Generations have walked these floors but sadly it was closed in 1995 when the new visitor’s center opened but now the old memorial building has new life and they need your help.

“We are people asking for their memories and we are also asking them for their ideas so if you text memorial to 80888 you can go to the link and you can enter your memories right there and then you can answer a survey of what should we do here,” said Pine.

All because Karen loved Edward so much she wanted his memory to live on forever. Pretty romantic, eh?

“The Hartwick’s and the Mickelson’s family we’re very instrumental in logging but then they gave back. They gave the park back to us, back to the people in Michigan. So it’s part of our history and it’s something that we want to maintain and share about,” said Pine.