Why Three Steps?

Feb 22, 2022

Flooding 2022

By Al Zehnder, CEO of Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth

I’ve taken those three steps hundreds of thousands of times. Guests and staff members use them daily. They are the three steps just to the north of our Guest Services office connecting our 1948 addition (our north wing) to our existing building completed in 1940.

So why was the 1948 addition built three steps higher than the existing building? Why not just build the addition at the same level? The answer came every Spring. Each year the Cass River overflowed its’ banks and into the dining rooms and production areas of Zehnder’s. Pictures are many chronicling the flood waters surrounding Zehnder’s. Imagine dealing with that every year.

It wasn’t until 1948 that the City and Township of Frankenmuth and Zehnder’s agreed on a plan to build a dike that would eliminate flooding in the downtown area. But we had brisk business and the expansion would provide additional dining, bar, lobby and bathrooms. We didn’t want to wait until the dike was completed so the decision was to go ahead with the project, just raise it up three steps that would take the new addition above the seasonal flooding.

The dike project begun in 1948 and was completed in 1961. Since its completion, and subsequent improvements, downtown Frankenmuth has remained dry.
If your travels bring you to Frankenmuth, notice the large earthen berms that ring our downtown. That was the original dike completed in 1961 and allowed for millions of dollars of investments and sales in our downtown area.

I’m proud of our history of community involvement and investment in particular our partnership in the completion of the dike.

Hospitably Yours,

Al Zehnder, CEO

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