Last week, the Harbor Springs Area Historical Society began its work to “Save the Shay.” The Historical Society, which was gifted the Shay Hexagon House in late 2016, is in the first stages of a campaign to restore this historic treasure for the enjoyment of generations to come.
The Shay House, built by Ephraim Shay in 1892, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is remarkable not only for its architectural quirks (the interior and exterior are clad in stamped steel) but because of the man who lived there. Shay is best known for his invention of the geared Shay locomotive, but he also engineered the first city water works and was a generous and influential leader in our community at the turn of the century.
The first phase of saving the Shay House is to seal the exterior, making it water tight in preparation for restoration of the interior of the home. New windows will be installed this month and essential landscaping work has been completed. This involved the removal of trees, which were found to be unhealthy, encroaching on the home’s foundation and, in some cases, hollow and hazardous to the property. A new landscape plan will be developed and executed as the project moves forward.
Saving this important landmark in downtown Harbor Springs is just one piece of the work the Historical Society has planned for the coming years. The Historical Society is actively seeking funds for the Shay restoration. Their “Bringing History to Life” capital campaign goals focus on community, education and the future of the Shay House and the historic museum building.