Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Overnight in Alpena Michigan

…continuing with our late summer road trip to Michigan and beyond.

Our overnight goal for this particular day was the Holiday Inn Express in Alpena Michigan.  Alpena is the county seat and the only city in Alpena County Michigan.  It was founded in 1840 and persevered despite disastrous fires in 1871, 1872 and 1888.  It has a population of about 10,197, down from 14,682 in 1960. 

Located along the shores of Lake Huron and Thunder Bay, the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary is located in the city.  This marine sanctuary protects an estimated 116 historically significant shipwrecks, dating from wooden side-wheelers in the 1800s to steel-hulled steamers from the 1900s.  To learn more about the Sanctuary and to view the list of shipwrecks, go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thunder_Bay_National_Marine_Sanctuary.  Also of note is the Michigan Islands National Wildlife Refuge located on islands in and around Thunder Bay.

Automobiles, trucks, trolleys, trains, ships and boats…some of my very favorite things for me to photograph and research.  The 95 foot long ‘MV Spencer F. Baird’ is a research vessel operated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Agency that is used for Great Lakes research, fish population assessment and for the release of lake trout on offshore spawning reefs.  There are roughly 90 vessels working on various marine science projects across the 5 Great Lakes, but the ‘M/V Spencer F. Baird’ is the only hatchery fish distribution vessel.

Spencer Fullerton Baird (1823 – 1887) was an American naturalist, ornithologist, ichthyologist, herpetologist and museum curator.  He was the first curator to be named at the Smithsonian Institution in 1850, later serving as Secretary of that institution from 1878 to 1887.  Under his guidance, the natural history collections of the Smithsonian increased from 6,000 specimens in 1850 to over 2,000,000 in 1887

Another vessel noted in Alpena’s harbor was this craft operated by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.  The 50 foot long ‘RV Storm’ is operated by NOAA’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab (GLERL) and it is dedicated to supporting the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary.  The ‘Storm’ is just one of about 40 watercraft operated by NOAA from Hawaii to the Florida Keys.

And then it was time to find a place to eat.  I’d chosen Courtyard Ristorante for our dinner as it was TripAdvisor’s #1 ranked restaurant in the Alpena area.  It was a bit too cold and rainy to eat in the Courtyard.  During our trip, the weather definitely favored us as we only had about 1 ½ days of intermittent rain.


Founded in the early 1980s, the Courtyard Ristorante and the Olde Rooste Lounge has been considered to be one of the best restaurants in northeastern Michigan.  It was a Sunday evening so both the bar and the dining room were fairly quiet.  In keeping with the north woods theme, the restaurant has utilized a lot of stone and wood in both construction and décor.

The young man in the second photo above was our waiter.  Evan was friendly, helpful and talkative.  We learned about his future plans for both he and his girlfriend.  Good Luck Evan!


I thought that Laurie was just taking a photo of my Miller Lite ($3.75) and her Moscow Mule ($8.00)…but she also ‘included’ yours truly in the picture.  A basket of homemade bread came with our meals and it was really great bread.  Evan brought us a second serving after we ravenously devoured the initial portion.

For an appetizer, we opted for the Calamari. ($12.00) The nori-sriracha dusted calamari rings were served with garlic-chili aioli.  It was a great choice.

We had considered 2 other possibilities for our appetizer.  First there was the Ahi Tuna Poke, sashimi tuna sautéed in sesame oil, soy sauce, nori, sesame seeds, onions and served with ocean salad and wasabi aioli. ($16.00) The other choice would have been the Seared Shrimp, 6 jumbo shrimp sautéed in a Thai-chili garlic butter and then topped with a chipotle glaze a parmesan baguette. ($14.00)

For her entrée, Laurie chose the Wild Yellow Belly Perch. ($22.00) She could have ordered it either breaded or pan seared.  Note that all entrees are paired with the diner’s choice of pasta, vegetable of the day, baked potato or steak fries.  A twice baked potato would have been $2.00 more.  A house salad was another $3.00, a specialty salad was $5.00 and the made from scratch soup was another $5.00.

While Laurie said that she really liked her meal, I thought that the visual of her fettuccini Alfredo was off-putting and $22.00 seemed a bit steep for 4 small perch filets.  Of course the most important factor is that she enjoyed her entrée…

She had also considered the Mac N’ Cheese Bake for her entrée. ($15.00)  This macaroni and cheese offering involved Trottole pasta with the Courtyard’s blend of Gruyere, aged sharp cheddar, goat and cream cheese, baked with mozzarella and parmesan cheese.  Depending on what other protein a diner might want with their Mac N’ Cheese, the price would have ranged from $20.00 with chicken up to $25.00 with Langostino. 

For my meal, I chose the Chicken Tetrazzini. ($18.00) The bocconcini pasta was tossed with Courtyard’s house-made Bianca sauce with chicken, spinach and parmesan cheese.  It normally comes with mushrooms and caramelized onions as well but I don’t like either of them.  I did enjoy my dinner…

I will admit that I was tempted to order the Almond-Encrusted Gorgonzola-Stuffed Chicken. ($22.00) The almond-encrusted chicken breast was stuffed with gorgonzola, broccoli and prosciutto and then it is drizzled with gorgonzola butter and it’s served on a bed of parmesan white truffle oil risotto.

The Courtyard Ristorante and Olde Roost Lounge is open for dinner 7 days a week beginning at 4 PM.  There is live music every Thursday…and they also have pizzas on the menu.  The restaurant is located at 2024 US Hwy 23 South in Alpena Michigan.  Website: http://www.courtyardristorante.com/.  

As we departed from Alpena the next morning to begin the next leg of our road trip, I did manage to photograph one historic place as listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 

The I.O.O.F. Centennial ‘flatiron’ Building at dates back to 1876.  It’s a mix of late Victorian commercial Italianate architecture.  It’s referred to as a ‘flatiron’ building given its wedge shape and its visual resemblance to old fashioned cast iron clothes irons.

Originally built for Samuel E. and Samantha Hitchcock, in 1901 it was sold to the local chapter of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, where Samuel was a member.  Various chapters of the I.O.O.F. occupied the building for 93 years.  Other occupants have included book and music stores, the city library, the Red Ribbon Society…a forerunner of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union and a restaurant.  Based on the chairs on the upper balcony, someone is living here…and another occupant is the Alpena County Veterans Affairs Office.

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Friday, December 2, 2022

Late Summer Road Trip – Michigan’s East Coast headed North

…continuing our late summer road trip.

After leaving my cousin Nathan and his better half Janice in Fenton, Laurie and I headed north along Interstate I-75, exiting from the ‘super-slab’ on US Hwy 23 toward Standish.  Our goal for the next couple of days was to drive north along the east coast of Michigan to Rogers City and then cut across the two-lane highways to the west coast of Michigan.  We had never driven along the east coast of the state which borders Lake Huron so it was discovery time...

Almost as soon as we entered Standish, we spotted the old railway depot I’d wanted to find.  The first railroad to serve Standish came about due to the construction of the Jackson, Lansing and Saginaw Railroad’s new line from West Bay City Michigan to Mackinaw City.  The first depot was built in 1871 or 1872 probably from white pine.  By 1885, there were 8 passenger trains coming through Standish on a daily basis. 

In 1887, the Michigan Central Railroad told the citizens of Standish that the railroad would provide the stone masons to build the depot if local farmers would haul their large field stones to the site for the new depot.  The depot was completed in 1888.  The depot was our first stop on the US Hwy 23 “Heritage Route”, a 200 mile stretch of roadway the runs from Standish to Mackinaw City near the bridge over to the Northern Peninsula of Michigan.

The last steam engine passenger coach to be pulled into the Standish Depot was on October 28, 1955.  I don’t know when the above photo was taken but I was interested to note that the locomotive appears to be Pere Marquette steam locomotive #1225…now owned by the Steam Railroading Institute in Owosso Michigan.  By 1965, all passenger service was discontinued.

I ran across this little historical tidbit as I did my research.  “February 1, 1916: Sam Good expects to ship another carload of horses from Standish next Tuesday by express.  They will be shipped to Chicago where they are reshipped to Europe for use in the war.  The express charge for this carload of horses headed to Chicago was $50.00.”

To learn more about the historical Standish Depot, its museum room, the Visitor’s Center and the adjacent War Memorial, just go to http://standishdepot.org/.  We love to see old buildings that have been adapted and preserved for the community...


I couldn’t easily get close to the second depot that was built in Omer Michigan to serve this small town and the Detroit and Mackinac south division main line.  The first structure has been used as a Senior Center in the years since the railroad ceased service.

I did find a photo of the earlier depot (ca. 1889) at this location complete with a train pulled by a steam engine.  A branch line to Au Gres Michigan was also located here at one point. 

Omer was settled ca. 1966 on the Rifle River after a saw mill was built here.  Originally the town was named Rifle River Mills but the first postmaster wanted to name it Homer.  But another town in Michigan already had the name so he simple dropped the leading “H”…hence “Omer”.  Omer has the distinction of being Michigan’s least populated city with 259 residents being recorded in the 2020 census.

We took this photo of wildflowers and weeds just because we thought that the composition was quite appealing.  



Our next stop was in Tawas City, the County Seat of Iosco County Michigan.  The views shown above are all from a pier down along the town’s waterfront on Lake Huron.  Those condos look pretty inviting… As for that photo of yours truly, I think that I scared off the seagulls.

Tawas City was founded in 1854 and it has a population of 1,834.  When considering the population of Tawas City, one must consider that it shares a border with East Tawas, a bit larger town with a population of 2,663.  As with Omer, originally Tawas City was all about the lumber industry and the fact that Tawas Bay offered shelter from the storms on Lake Huron.  Native Americans had camped here for eons…notably a band from the Saginaw Michigan tribe of Chippewa (aka Ojibwa).  Their leader was Chief O-ta-was and the bay was known as O-ta-was Bay.  Verbal evolution changed O-ta-was to Tawas City…or Tawas Bay

While driving through Tawas City, we spotted this old building…the Liberty Building Shoppes…at 402 Lake Street/US Hwy 23.  We love antiques and collectables so we had to check it out.  The building was constructed in 1885 and it is one of 8 listed antique shops that are located in Tawas City or East Tawas.


I did find that old photo of the Liberty Building from back in the ‘horse and buggy days’, probably from around 1900.  The second photo gives you an idea of the large eclectic collection of antiques and collectables on display in the store.  The owners live in the building and…oh yes, it is haunted by a ghost named Mary.

To learn more about Liberty Building Shoppes, you can go to: https://www.facebook.com/people/Liberty-Building-Shoppes/100068592204767/.  They are open 7 days a week.


To be honest, I don’t remember where I met “Bigfoot”.  It probably was in Tawas City.  Apparently I wasn’t his type.  Heck, I even held hands with him in an effort to win him over.  Michigan has been a ‘hot spot’ for Bigfoot aka Sasquatch hunters…but I didn’t have to look very hard to find one.

This view of Lake Huron from the side of a very pretty and well situated cottage really grabbed our attention. 

For those who don’t know about or who don’t understand the size of Lake Huron, here are a few facts.  The lake is one of the 5 Great Lakes that stretch from Minnesota to New York State in the USA and from Ontario into Quebec in Canada.  The name of the lake came from early French explorers who named it for the Huron people who inhabited the region.  The lake is connected to Lake Michigan with a 5 mile wide 120 feet deep channel at the Straits of Mackinac.  The lake’s primary inlet is the St. Mary’s River and its primary outlet is the St. Clair River.

Lake Huron has a surface area of 23,007 square miles.  By way of comparison, that is just a little smaller than New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts combined.  It is the 3rd largest fresh water lake in the World.  The lake’s average depth is 195 feet and its maximum depth is 750 feet.  More than 1,000 ship wrecks have been recorded in Lake Huron.

This photo is of the Lake Huron Pier at the Oscoda Beach Park in Oscoda Michigan.  We love to walk out on piers and just chill out…

However, in this case, despite a cloudy day  and a cool breeze, ‘chilling’ wasn’t in the cards.  The pier is where we encountered Thor’s twin brother. (Thor himself is shown above) 

Even I was impressed by the 6’6” handsome beast of a man with flowing locks of hair and a muscular wedge-shaped build.  He even had a nice dog with him…plus he was friendly and easy to talk to.  OK…fact is that Laurie didn’t really notice the dog due to our Thor carbon copy encounter.  No, sorry ladies, I didn’t take a photo!

Back to reality!  Not only does the Oscoda Beach Park feature a nice pier, it also has a long and expansive stretch of nice sandy beach for family fun.  There are benches along the board walk, picnic tables and restrooms as well.  

In lieu of a photo of Thor’s twin and his dog, Laurie took this selfie of us on Oscoda’s pier. 

The area was first settled as early as 1867 when a firm bought land here and platted the community.  It was all about the lumber business.  Both Oscoda and the adjacent ‘town’ of Au Sable are unincorporated census designated places.  However, the 1890 census showed that the area booming!  Oscoda had a population of 3,593 and Au Sable had 4,328 residents. (7,921 combined!) A huge forest fire in 1911 pretty much wiped out both towns.  In 1931, Au Sable only recorded 61 residents.  Today, the combined population of both towns only totals 2,369.

Harrisville is my last stop for this segment of our Michigan adventures.  Finding the former Detroit and Mackinac Railway Depot was a bit of a challenge.  It is not in what would be considered a central point in this small town but as you can see, we persevered.  Like the depot in Standish, this old passenger depot is made with stone…one of only 2 along the rail route. 

The depot was completed in 1902 to serve Harrisville and it was a busy place.  Several daily passenger trains departed for locations such as Cheboygan and Detroit.  Like the other towns along the shore of Lake Huron, the lumber business was the initial driving commercial force.  The last passenger train left this station on March 31, 1951.  Mail and freight service continued through the early 1960s. 

Harrisville was incorporated as a village in 1887 and as a city in 1905.  With a population of about 470 residents, it is the county seat of Alcona County.  The population peaked here in the city back in 1890 with 987 residents.  The city is located near a variety of state parks and beach areas.  It also has a safe harbor for pleasure craft that is protected with a series of jetties.


Our search for the old Detroit and Mackinac Railway Depot in Harrisville took us down a couple of side streets or roads and through a residential neighborhood.  Then we saw these deer… They slid into the woods when we passed them to approach the nearby depot, but when we returned, they’d either decided that we weren’t a threat or that this apple feast was worth the risk.  Question… Can deer overdose on ripe apples?  Apparently a few apples won’t hurt them but too many apples can do significant harm to their digestive system.  We hope all of these pretty deer survived their feast!

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Shiawassee County Michigan + 3

We hope that everyone had a great Thanksgiving Holiday.  If you don't live in the USA, then we're hoping that you have or have had a great weekend.

…continuing with our late summer road trip to Michigan and beyond.  In this post, Laurie and I were with my cousin Nathan and his wife Janice, finishing our exploration of Shiawassee County Michigan and specifically the city of Owosso.  We also touched on a couple other historic places closer to their home in Fenton Michigan.

Owosso has 20 homes separately listed on the National Register of Historic Places as well as 3 Historic Residential Neighborhoods.  There are another 10 listings on the National Register including 2 commercial districts.  With one exception, we stayed with individual historic homes…

The Nathan Ayres House is located at 604 North Water Street.  The style is Italianate and that distinctive 5-sided bay on the front of the home certainly adds architectural interest.  Ayres was a brick mason by trade and by 1883 he was well-off enough to build this brick home.  Nathan’s daughter, Effie, taught in the Owosso school system for many years and was subsequently promoted to Principal at the city’s Central School.

This is the Benjamin Oliver Williams House.  It is located at 628 North Ball Street in Owosso.  Benjamin founded Owosso in 1836 with his brother Alfred.  The brothers worked to recruit settlers and manufacturers to the area.  In 1838, Benjamin built this small L-shaped wood framed Greek revival style house on West Oliver Street.  It was moved to Ball Street sometime after 1868.  Local craftsman and painter Henry Daniels purchased the home from Williams some time prior to 1876.

The George Pardee House is a bit newer than the previous two as it was built in 1906.  George Pardee was one of Owosso’s most successful lawyers.  To say that this home at 603 North Ball Street is eclectic might be an understatement.  It is Romanesque Revival inspired but it isn’t easily defined.  Note the rough-faced poured concrete block façade, the Ionic columns on the porch and then of course, there is that five-sided, three story tower.  It’s safe to say that the Pardee home was built to project an image of wealth and success.

Just down the street from the Pardee House, the Leigh Christian House can be found at 622 North Ball Street.  Leigh Christian was the son of a successful merchant named Daniel Christian and Leigh was part of the business.  He built this mixed styles home in 1895, with architectural elements of Queen Anne and Georgian Revival on display.  Leigh eventually became the sole proprietor of the family’s store…changing the retail focus to emphasize apparel and household goods.  Leigh and his family eventually moved into his father’s second home, the Goodhue-Christian House which is located in Owosso’s Oliver Street Historic District.

The Christian-Ellis house is located at 600 North Water Street in Owosso.  This is the home that Leigh Christian’s father Daniel built for the rest of his family in 1895.  In 1885 Daniel had opened a large dry-goods business in town.  It was the first real store in Owosso.  By the beginning of the 1900s, it had evolved into the city’s first true department store.  Looking at the house, one can see some of its Georgian Revival features such as the Doric columns on the porch and the paired rounded arch windows on the second story.  But the overall design is best described as transitional…with both Queen Anne and Georgian elements.

When Daniel Christian moved to his new home in what is now the Oliver Street Historic District, this house was purchased by J. Edwin Ellis, the President of the Independent Stove Company which Ellis had moved to Owosso from Detroit in 1908.  Ellis became very involved in Owosso’s social life and he served as the city’s mayor between 1941 and 1947.

This is the Alfred Williams House.  My photo didn't come out well enough to publish, so I captured this one from the Internet.  This one and a half story Greek revival home was built ca. 1840.  As you might recall from my notes about the first house listed in this post, Alfred and his Brother Benjamin were the founders of Owosso.  Alfred started the first general store in town, the Williams Brothers Trading Post.  He also dammed the Shiawassee River in 1836 and had a millrace built to channel the water power and establish the town’s first mills.  Initially this home was on Oliver Street and it was moved to 611 North Ball Street ca. 1900.

This 2-story, 3-bay brick Italianate home was built by Herman Frieseke in 1870.  Herman and his brother Julius operated a local brickyard which became quite profitable.  The front porch of the home has been altered and that ugly large concrete block addition at the back of the home certainly detracts from the home’s appearance.

The house is not known as the Hermann Frieseke House but rather as the Frederick Frieseke Birthplace and Boyhood Home.  Frederick was born here in 1874.  At a young age he showed quite an aptitude for art and, after elementary school, his parents sent him to the Art Institute of Chicago for further training.


The first painting shown above is a self-protrait by Frederick Frieske and the second one ia titled "Girl in Blue Arranging Flowers" and he painted it in 1915.  After finishing his studies at the Art Institute of Chicago, Frederick moved to Paris where he studied under Whistler.  Frederick was an impressionistic painter who spent most of his life in France where he was an influential member of the Giverny Art Colony.  He is especially known for painting female subjects, both indoors and out.  He was awarded the Chevalier of the Legion of Honor, the highest honor bestowed on artists by the French government. 

Frederick Frieseke’s paintings are owned by many and varied art museums, both in the USA and abroad.  Examples include the Art Institute of Chicago, Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the St. Louis Missouri Art Museum.  In Washington D.C. his works are on display at the Corcoran Museum of Art, the Hirshhorn Museum, the National Gallery and the Smithsonian American Art Museum.  His works sell for between $20 and $300 thousand dollars each.  To learn more about the artist and to view a variety of his paintings, just go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frederick_Carl_Frieseke.


The Elias Comstock Cabin is located at the corner of Curwood Castle Drive and John Street in Owosso.  That's Laurie standing at the front door waving at me.  Built in 1836, this 20’ by 30’ one-room cabin is the oldest residence that is still standing in the city.  I love that stonework at and around the hearth.

Elias was born in New London Connecticut in 1799.  In 1824, he moved to Michigan with his parents.  He taught school and in 1835 he moved to the newly established community of Owosso.  He was the city’s first real settler.  He was a successful merchant and in 1837 Governor Lewis Cass appointed Elias as the county’s Justice of the Peace.  Over the years, he also served as the Township’s Supervisor, a Judge of Probate, County Judge and Associate Judge of the Circuit Court.

Over time, the Comstock family added a series of frame additions to the house.  Eventually, that single room cabin became the living room and it was completely covered by a frame exterior.  In 1890, the home passed on to the first of two other families.  But in 1920, the Standard Oil Company bought the property and began demolition of the house…only to discover the old log cabin preserved inside.  The Daughters of the American Revolution then led an effort to preserve the cabin and in 1969 it was moved to its current site.

Yes indeed, it is a small castle!  Curwood Castle was built along the banks of the Shiawassee River by author James Oliver Curwood in 1923 and 1924.  It is a romantic version of a Norman Chateau.  Curwood used this as a place to greet guests and as a writing studio in his hometown of Owosso.  He actually lived nearby with his family on the other side of the river.  The exterior of the castle is made of yellow stucco which contains decorative, randomly placed fieldstones that Curwood chose himself.



The photos shown above are intended to give you an idea of what the interior of Curwood Castle looks like.  There are 3 levels in total but I wasn’t going to climb those steep narrow spiral staircases.  The first interior photo almost looks like a hunting lodge…deceptive in that in his later years, Curwood became a zealous conservationist.  I included that painting just because I liked it…

After his death in August of 1927, his will bequeathed the Castle to the City of Owosso.  Currently it is a museum operated by the city.  Each year the city hosts the Curwood Festival to celebrate the life and works of James Oliver Curwood. (1878 – 1927)   

So why the fuss over an author that most of us have never heard of?  James Curwood spent much of his early life out of doors, touring the south on a bicycle at a young age.  He attended the University of Michigan for a couple of years and then went to work as a reporter and later, as an editor at the Detroit Tribune Newspaper.  But in 1907, he returned to Owosso to focus on writing and int 1908, he published his first novel. 

Curwood was an action-adventure writer.  Many of his books are based on adventures in the Hudson Bay area of Canada, the Yukon or Alaska.  In total he published 28 adventure/nature novels, 2 collections of short stories and 3 other books, one an autobiography.  At least 180 movies have been based on or directly inspired by his novels and short stories.  James Curwood became quite wealthy as an author and at the time of his death he was the highest paid author (per word) in the world.  Old timers and movie buffs may know some of the actors who appeared in the movies made after the silent film era.  They include Lon Chaney, Boris Karloff, Charles Bickford, Rin Tin Tin (1, 2 and 3), Ann Sheridan, John Wayne, Rock Hudson, Buster Keaton, Hugh O’Brien, Neve Campbell (in 1995) and American Olympic hero Jim Thorpe.  And then there was Lois Maxwell, who was “Miss Moneypenny” in the first 14 James Bond movies.  To learn more about James Oliver Curwood, you can go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Oliver_Curwood.

Moving on from Owosso and Shiawassee County…

Our next stop was in Fenton Michigan.  The Fenton Railroad Depot is located at 207 Silver Lake Road and it’s been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1983.  William Fenton and Robert Leroy founded Fentonville because they believed that a proposed railroad line would run through the settlement and in 1856, the Detroit, Grand Haven and Milwaukee did just that… 

The new brick depot was built in 1882 replacing an earlier wood structure that burned down.  The new depot served as built until 1923 when a fire destroyed its roof.  The roof was rebuilt to make the depot as it is seen today.  The depot served the railroad until 1974 when it was purchased by the City of Fenton.  Today it serves as offices for Southern Lakes Parks and Recreation.  The interior of the building remains intact…

Our last stop for the day was in the city of Holly in Oakland County Michigan.  Holly’s Union Depot was completed in 1886 to replace a wood frame depot that had burned down.  This depot was built by the Detroit, Grand Haven and Milwaukee Railroad to serve as a Union/shared depot for that line as well as the Flint and Pere Marquette which intersected here.  This late Victorian style depot served as Holly’s railroad passenger station for 80 years.  It appears to be deserted at this point in time.

Holly’s first white settler arrived in 1831 and the town was incorporated in 1838.  The village was initially called Algerville and then Holly Mills.  The real growth of the town began with the arrival of the railroad.  The interior of this new depot was paneled with Norway pine.  Each railroad had their own ticket booth and the depot had 2 waiting rooms, one for women only and the other with a lunch counter…an unusual feature for a small-town depot.  However since the station served 2 different railroads and had many transferring passengers, the lunch counter could thrive.  At the height of the railroad era, it was common for over 100 trains per day to pass through Holly. 

I found this old photo on line which shows the Holly Union Depot with a Grand Trunk Western passenger train dropping off and picking up passengers.  It isn’t clear how long this depot served the Flint and Pere Marquette Railroad and its successors but it served rail passenger traffic on the Grand Trunk Western until about 1964. 

Of special note, it was at this depot in 1908, that prohibitionist and axe wielding Carry Nation arrived via train on her crusade against “demon” rum.  That fact ties nicely into the history of the last historic building that we photographed during our day of exploration.

The Holly Hotel was first known as the Hirst Hotel.  Located at 110 Battle Alley in Holly Michigan, this Queen Anne style hotel was built in 1891 by John Hirst in order to cater to the heavy flow of railroad passengers passing through the town.  With the finest and largest dining room in the area, the hotel rapidly became the social center of the community.  Joseph Allen purchased the hotel in 1912 and renamed it the Holly Inn.  In 1913, a disastrous fire destroyed the second and third floors.  Allen immediately rebuilt the hotel but in a more modest style.  He renamed it the “Allendorf Hotel”, a take-off on the name of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City.

But in 1978, the hotel suffered another destructive fire.  This time a local resident bought the building and restored it, rebuilding the roof and tower to the original 1891 design.  The building reopened as a fine restaurant in 1979 and every state governor since that time has dined here…as did President George H.W. Bush in 1992.  However, on June 21, 2022, fire destroyed multiple other buildings in downtown Holly, and the Hotel Holly again suffered significant damage.  It is scheduled to reopen in the summer of 2023.

Prohibitionist Carry Nation arrived in Holly on August 29, 1908.  The Hotel gained significant notoriety when axe wielding Carry and her Pro-Temperance supporters invaded the hotel.  Carry began smashing whisky bottles with her ax and her supporters attacked bar patrons with their umbrellas.  The owner of the hotel had Carry arrested… It had to be quite a crazy scene!  In recent times, the Holly Hotel celebrates Carry Nation’s visit every years with special menus, a re-enactment of her visit…and best of all, special reduced prices on alcoholic beverages. 

This is an early photo of the Hotel.  This was taken after the fire in 1913 when the hotel had been rebuilt more in a more modest style and before it was once again rebuilt in 1978 to resemble in the original 1891 building.  

For those of you who are into ghosts and hauntings, the Holly Hotel is the place for you!  Among the spirits are Mr. Hirst himself, Nora Kane, the Ghost in the Kitchen…perhaps a little girl, Leona, the Hirst’s dog and a “mysterious Native American”.  Plenty of disembodied voices, Nora Kane’s perfume, Mr. Hirst’s cigar smell and more have been noted.  Fun times for true believers in the spirit world!  You can check out the Holly Hotel when it reopens this coming summer.

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by and checking out my blog site!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave