Local owner of Carlson Fisheries, Bill Carlson, had the foresight to protect and preserve Historic Fishtown over 40 years ago. He bought a large piece of Fishtown property with several buildings on it in 1971, and continued to purchase several other Fishtown properties over the years. Carlson renovated some of the buildings, and rented them out to small, seasonal businesses to help maintain and fund his project.
In 2004, the Carlson Family decided to sell Fishtown to an entity that would continue to preserve it. Fishtown Preservation Society, established in 2001 to promote and preserve the historical and fishing heritage of Fishtown, soon became the vehicle for the Leland community to acquire Fishtown. In June 2006, Fishtown Preservation Society reached an agreement to purchase Fishtown real estate, two fishing boats, related fishing licenses, and equipment from the Carlson family – finalizing the sale in 2007.
Today, Fishtown appears much as it did over a century ago, and remains a living reminder of Northern Michigan's maritime history.