Traverse City News and Events

Fishtown's Cheese Shanty About To Get A Lift

Jan. 8, 2020

The Village Cheese Shanty at Leland’s Fishtown is to be lifted by crane and moved to the Leland Harbor parking lot this week, where its failed foundation can be replaced. The exact date and time remain contingent on the weather, though it may be as early as today. It is the first of the historic shanties to be moved out of danger from the high water of Lake Michigan.

The shanty was built in 1958 by Louis Steffens. The wood retaining wall and concrete foundation failed over the years, and recent high water has washed away the soil beneath. The new foundation will be constructed of sheet pile and concrete. After the foundation is rebuilt, the shanty will be moved back to its original location.

Fishtown Preservation has spent the last five years developing plans to improve Fishtown’s infrastructure. The project includes rehabilitating three shanties (the Village Cheese Shanty, Carlson’s Fishery and the Morris Shanty), resolving critical infrastructure and drainage issues, replacing all the docks, fixing drainage issues, and addressing accessibility and landscaping. In the past two years, high Lake Michigan water levels and greater flow over the Leland Dam have exacerbated the situation, causing additional structural problems with the shanties and docks. This winter the Morris Shanty on the south side of the river will also be lifted and moved from the river’s edge until its wood dock piles can be replaced. 

The site projects are to be funded by the Campaign for Fishtown at an estimated cost of $2,500,000. A total of $950,000 has been raised, and there is still a need to raise $1,550,000 to preserve Fishtown’s historical integrity and ensure that the site will continue to be publicly accessible. 

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