Detroit Land Bank demolishes log cabin despite attempts by historians to save it

Land annexed back to Detroit

DETROIT – A 16-by-20 foot log cabin built in Hamtramck in the mid-1800s was used as a foundation as someone built a house around it.

That house is on land long since annexed back to Detroit and fell into disrepair and has since been vacant for the last decade. Some local historians learned of it and they realized the clock was ticking to save it.

Greg Kowalski is passionate about Hamtramck history so when he was alerted to the possible historic log cabin inside another home on Halleck Street late last year, he rushed to see it.

"We came down and took a look at it and we were astonished by what we found," Kowalski said.

"The walls were logs, the whole structure had the rings of the trees," he said. "It's very, very rare to have a structure like that in this area."

They discovered the house was on the land bank's demolish list so Kowalski and his team called the city asking them to hold off and they came up with a plan to relocate it.

"Move it by trailer to Hamtramck and locate in a little park in front of City Hall where we could restore it," he said.

Kowalski was concerned because he hadn't heard back from the city. He drove by on Feb. 20 to check on the house and everything was fine -- but on Saturday he saw the house had been demolished.

"Tearing this great historical site to pieces and hauling it away with the garbage," he said.

The land bank said the discovery was made too late in the demolition process.

"We just had to make a decision is this worth wasting taxpayer money and we were so far into the process that the decision was made to go ahead with the demo," Alyssa Strickland with the Detroit Land Bank, said.

Kowalski doesn't blame the city but he still can't help but wonder about what could have been.

The hope now is to simply learn from this and Kowalski has a night scheduled to do just that.

On March 28 at the Hamtramck Historical Museum they are hosting a discussion on the cabin which would have been the third of its kind left in Detroit.

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