Sleeping Bear Inn south side

Leelanau Ticker: Sleeping Bear Readies To Awaken

Sleeping Bear Inn south sideThe Leelanau Ticker has a great primer on changes coming to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore this summer. In addition to preparing for over a million visitors (1.5 million in 2022) and numerous projects, they also share that the National Lakeshore:

…isn’t the only Sleeping Bear looking to welcome visitors this year. Work continues at Sleeping Bear Inn, the historic building in Glen Haven. Maggie Kato, with her husband Jeff, founded the Balancing Environment And Rehabilitation (BEAR) in 2018 to restore and reopen the property.

Unfortunately, it won’t be ready to open this summer, but Maggie is still hopeful it will open sometime in 2023. “She survived the winter and stood tall,” she says of the building, which was originally completed in 1866 and served as a frontier hotel and boarding house, before gradually becoming a tourist hotel.

Closed since 1973, BEAR is overseeing a renovation to bring the property up to date. Kato says issues around labor, supplies and learning techniques new and old for repair and renovation have pushed that date back. “We did some early 1900s restoration in Habitat,” she says, referencing her and her husband’s previous positions with Genesee County Habitat for Humanity. “What we found (here) dated back to 1866. We had to marry old technology and current codes.”

That included learning old techniques such as glazing windows, and restoring the stone foundation and hand-hewn beams that had rotted. In addition, licensing and operating as a hotel meant that numerous upgrades were necessary to meet code, such as fire suppression, adding insulation (“There wasn’t any,” Kato says with a laugh), and updated electric and plumbing. “It’s not a historical renovation. It’s an adaptive reuse,” she says.

“We thought we’d be further along,” Kato admits. That said, beginning in May the website will allow bookings for next year. And never say never on this year: “There’s still hope, it just won’t be this summer. We’d love to say we’ll be open sometime in 2023. We just don’t want to disappoint anyone.”

Read more in the Ticker and for sure stay tuned to