Historical Manistee Building in Danger of Falling into Lake Due to Erosion

The Shelter House at Orchard Beach State Park in Manistee sits on a bluff overlooking Lake Michigan, and it’s been there for more than 80 years.

“The history goes back way before that, before it was a state park, it was a very popular beach area for the citizens of Manistee,” says David Povilus, member of the Friends of Orchard Beach State Park.

But Doug Barry, the state park’s supervisor, says the building is in danger of falling into the lake as erosion continues to eat away the soil.

“This shelter building is on a high bluff and we’re actually seeing all of the soils cascading down, of course the waves crashing on it,” says Barry. “I’ve never seen water like this here before and it’s really having a huge impact.”

Barry says one option to save the structure is to armor the shoreline with large boulders, a $4.5M dollar job.

“That’s a huge structure and it was just really quite expensive,” says Barry.

Instead, Barry and a team of engineers decided to relocate the building, which could preserve it for centuries.

“We’ll be putting this building on wheels and we’ll be driving it down the hill, right through the center of the campground.”

The historical building will now sit at the front of the park.

Povilus says, “One of the problems is that it’s located right in the campground and so it kind of limits the kind of activities that you can have.”

He says the shelter house has been a focal point in Manistee for nearly a century, so he’s glad it’s there to stay:

“It’s just a feature of the community that everybody knows about and loves,” says Povilus.

Friends of Orchard Beach State Park are also planning to build a new playground near the new location of the Shelter House. Povilus says the organization is currently applying for grants to make that happen.