Demolished wooden cabin from 1800's causes tension between Detroit land bank, historians

The demoltion of a civil war-era log cabin has caused tension among the Detroit Land Bank Authority and local historians and archaeologists.

Before the cabin had been razed, it had been discovered by an archaeologist late last year. Located on the 2000 Block of Halleck, it was at one time a part of Hamtramck Township. One wouldn't have noticed the structure however, due to another century-old house being built around the cabin. 

Upon studying it, history buff Greg Kowalski said moves were in place to relocate the cabin to Hamtramck.

"We took every step that was proper because as soon as we saw what was here, we contacted the landbank and asked them to put a hold on the demoltion and we supplied them with information," said the Hamtramck Historical Museum historian.

Except, a few days later demo crews came through and knocked it down. Because the house's demolition had been contracted out by the land bank, officials with the authority say there was little they could do without losing money already contracted out.

"By the time we found out about it, it was already listed for demo, at that stage an average of about $10,000 in taxpayers money has already been spent on the process and we would have no way to recoup those costs," said Alyssa Strickland, spokewoman for the Detroit Land Bank.

Strickland said the authority wouldn't be able to get that money back.

However, preservationists say they wish they were given more time.

"There was never any mention of a demolition, so had we known that there would’ve been a demolition we could’ve at least gone in there one more time and gotten more information about the property," said Krysta Ryzewski, a Wayne State associate professor of Archaeology.

The land bank did however save another cabin similar to the one that had been knocked down. The reason? They say its because they had more time to work with historians.

"Unfortunately in this case it wasn’t about not being able to work with them, it was simply too far into the process," Strickland said, "too much taxpayer money had already been spent for us to pull it out of demolition at that time.