Department of Natural Resources
May 16, 2019
|From 1929 to 1995, visitors to Hartwick Pines State Park entered through a large, two-story “log cabin” located just steps from M-93. Called the “Memorial Building” to honor Grayling native and lumberman Edward Hartwick, who died in World War I, it provided a grand introduction to the park’s pristine natural landscape. Generations of visitors marveled at the large stone fireplace, climbed stairs to see exhibits on the mezzanine and took in views of the park’s old growth forest from its wide porch.
|“Over the years, visitors have shared so many stories about how they remember walking through the building with their parents and grandparents. Having the Memorial Building open to the public once again means families can revisit old memories and create new ones,” said Craig Kasmer, park interpreter.
The Memorial Building will be open for tours throughout the summer, depending on staff and volunteer availability. Call the Visitor Center at 989-348-2537 for the current tour schedule.
“We wanted to reopen the building this year, because 2019 is the state parks’ centennial year,” said Denise Dawson, park supervisor. “It was important for us to commemorate this important anniversary by sharing Hartwick Pines' unique history.”
Hartwick Pines became Michigan’s eighth state park in 1927, when Karen Hartwick purchased more than 8,000 acres of land, including 85 acres of old-growth white pine, just northeast of Grayling. The next day, she donated the land to the State of Michigan for a memorial park to be named for her husband, the late Major Edward E. Hartwick. Edward Hartwick, a Grayling native, successful lumberman and officer in the U.S. Army, died of cerebrospinal meningitis in 1918 while serving in France during World War I.
|Karen Hartwick included the construction of the Memorial Building in the deed agreement with the State of Michigan. It was built in 1929 from red pine logs that were cut nearby.
As part of the state parks centennial celebration, the public is invited and encouraged to share their memories of the Memorial Building and park all year long. Visitors can share their memories of the historic structure while touring the building, or post them on the state parks centennial memory map at Michigan.gov/StateParks100.
“The inside of the building had been untouched since 1995,” said park historian Hillary Pine. “All the exhibits were still inside. It was almost like a time capsule. Unfortunately, they were in bad shape from the insect damage and needed to be removed. But now we have an opportunity to create something new in this impressive space.”
The freshly cleaned building now offers a blank slate for future use. Renovations and improvements are still needed, such as upgrading electrical and plumbing systems, meeting Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines and replacing porch beams that have rotted after 90 years of exposure to the elements.
|“We also want to put new exhibits and attractions into the building that share the history of the forest, of Karen and Edward Hartwick and of the generations of families who have enjoyed the park,” said Kasmer. “We need help not only with ideas, but also in donations.”
For more information about renovations, exhibits, and tour and support opportunities at Hartwick Pines State Park and the Memorial Building, contact historian Hillary Pine at 989-348-2537 or PineH@Michigan.gov.
Historic memorial building: The 1929 Hartwick Pines Memorial Building was designed by architect Ralph B. Herrick, who worked on several designs for the Department of Conservation (now the Department of Natural Resources.) Credit: Archives of Michigan.
Edward Hartwick: The park is dedicated to the memory of Edward Hartwick, a Grayling native and successful military officer and lumberman who died in World War I. Credit: Michigan History Center.
Old growth forest: Hartwick Pines State Park included 86 acres of old growth forest when it opened in 1929. Today, hiking trails weave through the forest
Karen and Robert Hartwick 1907: Karen Hartwick holds her son Robert in 1907. Edward and Karen had three sons between 1903 and 1911.
Old exhibits: Until recently, the Memorial Building included exhibitions on the geological and natural history of the park, which were designed and installed in the 1970s.
Memorial building today: The large stone fireplace and vaulted ceilings are a central feature of the Memorial Building