One of the things I am most drawn to when I photograph are old buildings. Each has a history, each has a story waiting to be told.
I rarely do historical research ahead of an exploration of a place. I may have read something about it that peaked my interest to initially seek the place out, but that is the extent of my information gathering. I prefer to have my eye and mind wander about the place unhindered. It is only as I begin to load my photos on to the computer and start to see what pieces of history I have captured, then I start to delve into the history of the place.
That being said, something I have started to seek out in the last year are historical tours. I can tell right away if our tour guide is passionate about the subject they are talking about. We have been fortunate this year to experience two different tours where I could tell the tour guide has a deep love for the place and the history.
The first tour was with Joe at the Northern Michigan Asylum in Traverse City this past winter. You can read about that tour here and here. There will be a new installment of this tour coming in the near future from our latest tour which we did this summer.
The second tour was a ranger led walk of Glen Haven, MI with Ranger Marie of The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Our daughter is interning at Sleeping Bear this summer and she tipped us off to this ranger led walk when we were up there for vacation.
We met on a beautiful Sunday morning. The temperatures on the slightly cool side, but the sun was shining and the sky was that perfect summer blue.
The ranger led walks were just getting started for the summer season so still an undiscovered treasure to most tourists. Hence why my husband and I were the only non-park employed people on the tour.
Ranger Marie has done a great deal of research on the town of Glen Haven and has followed up on people's stories whenever she is able. It was so interesting to listen to her recount some of them. If you ever get up to the Sleeping Bear area I would highly recommend this ranger led walk.
The highlight of the tour was the opportunity to go inside the Sleeping Bear Inn. Glen and I have wandered around the outside with our cameras on a few occasions. The chance to explore the rooms inside gave me that fluttery feeling of photographic excitement.
A few quick facts. The Sleeping Bear House, as it was originally named, was built in 1857 in the small logging town of Glen Haven, located on the shores of Lake Michigan. The Inn was originally used as a Boarding House for lumberjacks, dock workers and sometimes for passengers from the steamships that docked in Sleeping Bear Bay. These passengers wishing to stay overnight or get a good hot meal.
Now that the basic facts have been stated, let's step inside the Inn...
We entered through the back door, walked past the old telephone...
and entered into the kitchen.
There was no electricity in the Inn so I was so happy for a bright sunny day and lots of big windows with natural light. I wouldn't mind working at this counter and looking out at Lake Michigan.
Through the swinging doors and out into the large main room.
The front porch. My favorite place. I am such a porch girl.
Some vintage signs. My favorite is this one though...
Especially after I found a photo in the museum of the sign when it was in use.
Although you can tell the signs are not the same. Different lettering, but same wording.
Then up the stairs to the rooms.
Notice a difference between door Number 1 and door Number 10?
Room Number 1 was the Honeymoon Suite, any ideas now?
Each room had a sink in it, but the toilet was communal.
As we were leaving I noticed this bit of ephemera tacked to the wall on the front porch. Ranger Marie had no idea how long it has been there, but from the looks of the style of the phone numbers, quite a long time.
Just imagine all the stories this old Inn could tell. This is what I love about historic places.