Courtesy: Michigan DNR
GARDEN — Restoration work on buildings and some new interpretative signage are among the projects being undertaken at Fayette Historic State Park in the Upper Peninsula’s Garden Peninsula as the season winds down. Restoration work has been completed on the lower level of the historic hotel, “Shelton House,” which was lavishly furnished in the late 19th century for Fayette guests and residents. Portions of the lobby, foyer and dining room have been replastered with three coats of plaster.
“At a rich historic site like Fayette, it is important to use historically appropriate construction materials and methods when it is feasible in the restoration process of the original structures,” said Fayette site historian Troy Henderson. The roof of the hotel was reshingled in the fall of 2013. The museum exhibits will be reinstalled and the building reopened to the general public in 2015.
Fayette also has a new barrier fence around the historic furnace complex, replacing a fence that was constructed decades ago to keep the area safe for the public.
“The fence is a necessary modern intrusion into the historic townsite,” said Henderson. “The goal of its construction is to provide visitor safety without confusing visitors about its existence in the 1880s, when people worried much less about such things. It blends into the historic landscape as much as possible.”
Finally, expanded historic interpretation is also under way. Five new interpretive panels at the site of Fayette’s historic race track and baseball field will be installed before the 2015 season begins.
“Fayette residents and regional visitors played, raced and picnicked on this ground, and adding these panels not only enlarges the interpretive boundaries of the townsite, but expands the story of Fayette residents to encompass the very important aspect of what they did for fun,” Henderson said.
The new hotel roof and plastering was funded by the DNR Stewardship Program. The new fence was funded through the DNR Partnership Program, which matched a contribution from the Friends of Fayette Historic Townsite. The interpretive panels also were funded by the Friends of Fayette Historic Townsite, a nonprofit organization that supports the interpretation and preservation of the townsite.
Fayette Historic State Park is one of the nation’s premier examples of a 19th-century industrial community and company town. In operation from 1867 to 1891, its furnaces produced more than 229,000 tons of pig iron. It was the second-largest producer of charcoal iron in Michigan. Today, 20 buildings are preserved, including the furnace complex, hotel, town hall, company office and several residences. The 11 buildings containing exhibits that are open to the public include a modern visitor center with a scale model of the townsite as it looked in the 1880s.
Fayette Historic Townsite is one of 11 nationally accredited museums administered by the Michigan Historical Center, an agency within the Department of Natural Resources. Located 17 miles south of U.S. Highway 2 on Highway 183 at Fayette Historic State Park, the museum village is open daily 9 a.m. to dusk through Labor Day and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Labor Day through Oct. 19. For more information call 906-644-2603 or visit www.michigan.gov/fayettetownsite.
The Recreation Passport has replaced motor vehicle permits for entry into Michigan state parks, recreation areas and state-administered boating access fee sites. This new way to fund Michigan outdoor recreation opportunities also helps to preserve state forest campgrounds, trails and historic and cultural sites in state parks and provides park development grants to local communities. Learn more at www.michigan.gov/recreationpassport.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state’s natural and cultural resources for current and future generations. For more information, go to www.michigan.gov/dnr.