Apostle Islands Historic Preservation Conservancy

Preserving and interpreting historic structures and cultural landscapes throughout the Apostle Islands region of northern Wisconsin.


National Trust For Historic Preservation Cites Apostle Islands As Prime Candidate for Innovative Approaches

November 2, 2018

One of the nation’s leading historic preservation organizations has identified the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore to Congress as one of twelve National Park Service units that would benefit significantly through the use of historic leasing programs.

At a time when the historic resources in the national parks face threats from a severe maintenance backlog, the National Trust For Historic Preservation has recommended historic leasing as a key tool that can be used to help remedy the shortfall. Already shown to be successful in several NPS units, historic leasing programs are based on cooperative partnerships that authorize nonfederal organizations to manage historic properties for public benefit, and take care of their maintenance, freeing agency funds for use elsewhere. Partners can include historic preservation groups, educational institutions, and similar organizations, ensuring compliance with the NPS mission to preserve the sites for future generations and provide for their enjoyment by the public.

In a statement to the House Committee on Natural Resources on September 17, 2018, Tom Cassidy, NTHP Vice President of Government Relations and Policy, noted that National Trust representatives had visited the Apostle Islands and inspected several historically significant properties. He advised committee members that several of them had already benefited from community-based volunteer restoration efforts, undertaken without federal funding, while others were currently occupied under existing use-and-occupancy  agreements (“life leases”) and are currently well-maintained by the historic island families.

He continued, “Future historic leases or similar arrangements could be important tools to ensure these properties are maintained after the expiration of the use-and-occupancy rights, and before they become part of the maintenance backlog.”

The Apostle Islands National Historic Preservation Conservancy strongly supports the National Trust’s recommendations. Experience throughout the national park system has confirmed that well-designed historic leasing programs can reduce the maintenance burden on the National Park Service and ensure continuing public benefit.

Photo: Sand Island’s historic West Bay Lodge (1913) is currently unoccupied and is considered by many to be a prime candidate for leasing by a non-profit organization.

Historic District Status Moves Closer for Sand Island’s Shaw Point

December 20, 2018

The Apostle Islands Historic Preservation Conservancy has received notice that the Wisconsin State Historical Society has cleared the proposed creation of a Shaw Point National Historic District for final review.

Shaw Point, on Sand Island within the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, is the site of some of the earliest settlement on the island, and contains numerous buildings and features of historic significance. Working in coordination with the National Park Service, the AIHPC has sponsored a three-year research project which led to the completion of the National Historic District proposal.

In a letter dated December 14, 2018, Ian Gort, Historic Preservation Specialist with the state agency, stated, “The nomination packet is considered complete. The nomination is now in the queue to be scheduled for review by the historic preservation review Board at one of its quarterly meetings.” This notification represents an important milestone in the nomination process which has already been reviewed and approved by the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.

According to the nomination, the proposed Shaw Point district contains “a variety of buildings, structures, and landscape features that represent the interconnected commercial, agricultural, recreational, and residential development of the islands.” Among them are the Shaw-Hill Farm, established in 1870 as a commercial fishing camp and farm, Camp Stella, one of northern Wisconsin’s earliest tourist resorts, and the Sevona Memorial Cottage, built out of salvaged hatch covers from a steamer that sank off the island in 1905.

National Historic District designation would provide official confirmation of Shaw Point’s historic significance, and add a layer of protection to the district’s historic resources by helping to guide the National Park Service in making decisions for preservation and management of the resources within its boundaries.

Photo: Sevona Memorial Cottage, within the proposed Shaw Point Historic District, built in 1906 from hatch covers salvaged from the steamer that sank the previous year.