Park Township, Michigan (Wood) — The Lake Michigan shoreline icon will be rebuilt this fall.
The Ottawa Beach General Store is located at: 2256 Ottawa Beach Road It is located near Holland State Park in Park Township and is slated for demolition after this summer.
Project stakeholders have assured the community that the general store will not change.
“As an architect, as a design firm, you are usually brought in for the creativity of original and unique new buildings. It is different in that it has been brought in to reproduce as accurately as possible.”
Built in the late 1930s, the General Store sits on 0.2 acres and offers ice cream, candy, camping gear, and more. Every summer, people from all over the world and the Dutch community stop by, according to General Store operator Linda Diekert.
Many of the Dutch community made summer memories there.
“People love it. … There’s history here,” Dykert said. “I have a grandma who used to come with her grandma when she was a little kid.”
I saw her children allowed to ride alone to the general store as a rite of passage. Primarily high school and college students who work in seasonal stores have improved leadership skills.
“I love it. Of course, this is a seasonal business, not year-round,” Dykert said. “I love the children and adults who work for me. …Take her 14 year old learning and training and that her 14 year old will grow up to be a leader in her peers. It’s a lot of fun to watch.”
Dykert said the store was originally built as a grocery store. She said it later became a meat market and then a “retro hippie place.” Her porch of ice cream was built around the 1960s, she said.
But over the years and generations the little building has worn down and now the floors are sunken and the foundations are coming to life. A structural engineer said it was time to tear it down.
“Basically, it has lived its life. It has been very useful to the Dutch community over the decades,” said architect Dixon.
Owners Cheri DeVos Ehmann and Steve Ehmann said, “After decades of serving the Lakeshore community, the Ottawa Beach General Store has reached an age where the foundations of the building have reached the end of their life.” The store will be rebuilt in a way that mimics its current structure in almost every respect and will reopen its doors for the 2024 season.”
Demolishing it and rebuilding it will allow the General Store to serve the community for years to come, Dixon said.
“We’re taking what’s actually out there, paying tribute to history while modernizing it to last for decades and decades for future generations,” he said.
Rebuilding includes several upgrades, such as better insulation, air conditioning, and new, more efficient equipment. Dixon said employees will be able to serve ice cream faster, which may give them room to roll out more products. She said the layout can also be tweaked for practical purposes such as deliveries.
The spirit of the General Store lives on. Dixon is working on a construction plan that includes the same paint color, roofline and ice cream ordering window.
“We want to create the same interior with the same long checkout counter, which is a historic piece of[rural Ottawa County community]Bernips,” said Dickert. Allow the item to hang, because it will last for a long time.”
Ada-based Dixon Architecture has experience with similar projects.
“Over the past decade or so, we’ve been really committed to building buildings that are historically influenced and respectful,” says Dixon.
Dixon understood the significance of the building after speaking with Dickert, who has worked at the General Store since 2010, and other community members. He “considered the importance of bringing back exactly what was there, without deviating from memory or narrative. The goodwill the building had for the community.”
The project is subject to some approvals from the townships, but Dixon said planners have “received nothing but positives from Park Townships and neighbors with whom we have spoken.” .
Construction-related documents will be ready by late April or early May, after which construction workers will begin placing orders. Work starts after Labor Day and goes through the winter. It is expected to be completed by Memorial Day 2024, in time for the 2024 Summer season.
I got a lot of “why?” questions. Diekert said. “When I talk about it, it’s very positive. I think people are excited because it’s going to be as close to the old General Store as possible.”
Dykert thanked the community for their support.
“I want to be here and thank the community for being part of the General Store,” she said. “It’s been fun for all of our employees and we appreciate the community’s love of the General Store.”