Are you thinking of traveling this summer, perhaps spending a week at the lake, or just visiting one of Michigan’s beautiful peninsulas? This summer we are changing our approach a bit. In lieu of focusing on one specific area of Michigan, we have decided to place our focus on some of the many festivals being held throughout our state.
Each month we will identify some of the major festivals being held in the coming month and then explore some of the unique Michigan architectural buildings and historical areas near each specific festival, that reinforce MAF’s mission of “Advancing awareness of how architecture enriches life.” If you are planning a trip around Michigan this summer, please consider some of the following festival and tour options to learn more about Michigan Architecture.
Mackinac Island Lilac Festival, June 9-18: 2023 Mackinac Island Lilac Festival – Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau
This year marks the 75th Annual Mackinac Island Lilac Festival! It is the largest and most historic festival on Mackinac Island. It’s 10 days celebrating the lilacs and their uniqueness and history to Mackinac Island. Join in for the Lilac Queen coronation, 10K Run/Walk, lilac walking tours, lilac planting seminars, bounce houses, Michigan Cornhole tournament, live music, the Grand Parade, and more!
When the Grand Hotel opened at the height of the Gilded Age, it joined many other historic resort hotels across America. Today it remains of the few survivors, and without doubt one of the best. Architect-builder Charles W. Caskey executed the plans drawn up by Detroit architect George Mason, and everywhere we see Mason’s sure Hand and eye for detail. Can there be a grander spot to enjoy a summer morning or to survey the vistas of the Straits of Mackinac? A Michigan masterpiece in every way (the Grand Hotel is also MAF’s ‘Must See Michigan Architecture’ feature this month – click to read the article).
Governor’s Summer Residence:
This beautiful example of Shingle-style resort residence is all business when the governor-any governor- is politicking legislators, reporters, or business tycoons. The State of Michigan bought the house in the 1940s. Rugged native limestone boulders form the base as well as the chimneys, the huge hipped roof sports flaring eaves and projecting dormers, and the cozy porch wraps around most of the structure. Take the weekly tour in summer, and you get to enjoy spectacular views of the Straits of Mackinac.
Mackinac Island West Bluff Cottages:
Running just west of the Grand Hotel, West Bluff features a row of cottages that offer sweeping vistas of the Straits of Mackinac and a glimpse of summertime life during the Gilded Age. The Amber Cottage is a shining example of a large Queen Anne Style house with picturesque towers, porches, and roof shingles. The Cudahy Cottage is another wonderful example of a summer home built on the West Bluff. A short glance at this magnificent home hints at the privileges that great fortunes bestowed. The exterior, a blend of Queen Anne and the Shingle styles, is a picturesque composition of stone foundations, many towers, many porches, and bays. If strolling or biking on the West Bluff, don’t be shy about taking pictures or simply standing and staring for a while. These homes represent the pinnacle of Michigan cottage architecture.
Grand Haven Art Festival, June 23-25: Grand Haven Art Fest – Grand Haven Chamber
The 62nd Grand Haven Art Festival is presented by The Chamber-Grand Haven, Spring Lake, Ferrysburg. The Grand Haven Art Festival invites nearly 85 artists from across the country to transform Washington Avenue into a chic, outdoor, art gallery. This year’s festival is a three-day event, starting on Friday from 12-5pm, and then on Saturday and Sunday from 10 am – 5 pm.
Historic Grand Haven Walking Tours:
Grand Haven is an area with a rich history. While most of the buildings in the business district are now used for different purposes, the architectural details from times gone by still remain. On your walking tour of Downtown Grand Haven, you will see the original Grand Trunk Depot, which has been converted into a transportation museum. There are also old homesteads, churches, and main street buildings. As you wander around, be sure to look up. The top stories of many of the buildings are adorned with beautiful arches and other eye-catching details that will give you a glimpse of olden day Grand Haven. The residential tour includes homes in Greek Revival Vernacular, Italianate Vernacular, and Gothic Revival styles.
Arsenal of Freedom-Military Vehicle and Railroad Weekend, June 23-24, Owosso: Arsenal of Freedom: Military Vehicle and Railroading Weekend – Steam Railroading Institute (michigansteamtrain.com)
Join the Steam Railroading Institute and the Military Vehicle Collector’s Club of Michigan for a weekend of family-oriented, patriotic events and activities as SRI and the Military Vehicle Collector’s Club of Michigan pay tribute to the teamwork of America’s railroads and military during wartime and peacetime. This event offers many activities for the entire family.
The City of Owosso has a long and prosperous history of recognizing, renovating, restoring, and saving architectural treasures. Downtown Owosso, which had been laid out by the ambitious Williams brothers as a potential state capital, began to reflect this prosperity, with substantial commercial structures built of brick and featuring ornate Gothic, Italianate, and Victorian embellishments. The city boasted of streets lined with grand and elegant homes in a wide variety of architectural styles – Italianate, Victorian, Gothic Revival, Romanesque Revival, Queen Anne, Second Empire.
Curwood Castle, located in Curwood Castle Park, stands on the banks of the Shiawassee River. It served as the writing studio of James Oliver Curwood, one of America’s foremost authors of adventure novels and an early advocate of environmental conservation. Set in Owosso, among one of the riches collections of historic homes and buildings in the Midwest, this replica of a Norman chateau was completed in 1923. The beautiful castle was used by Curwood until his death in 1927.
FrankenFest, Turner-Dodge House, June 24, Lansing: Lansing — FrankenFest
FrankenFest features mad, magical and mystical artwork from the area’s most intriguing vendors stitched together with a showcase of literary guests, haunt aficionados and paranormal experts. Experience the electrifying attractions, monstrous exhibits, and inspiring artwork as FrankenFest returns to Lansing’s historic mansion, the Turner-Dodge House.
Turner Dodge House:
A fine example of Classical Revival architecture, the Turner-Dodge mansion is a National Historic Registered Place. The beautifully restored home was built in 1858 by James and Marion Turner, who helped establish the Capital City. The home was recently restored to the turn-of-the-19th-century period and is maintained by the City of Lansing Parks and Recreation Department as a Cultural Heritage Center.
Bay City Fireworks Festival, June 29-July 1: Home – Bay City Fireworks (baycityfireworksfestival.com)
The Bay City Fireworks Festival is Mid-Michigan’s premier destination for those looking to celebrate our nation’s Independence Day in the grandest fashion. People come from far and wide to enjoy our world-class fireworks displays, but the fireworks are only a small part of what the festival has to offer. With so many events and activities available to participate in over our four-day event.
Bay City Historic Architecture Walking Tours:
If you are interested in looking at a complete collection of historic homes, you will want to check out these tours of Bay City’s nationally registered, Center Avenue Historic District. Most of these mansions were built in the late 1800s for a growing community of lumber barons and shipping industrialists. The district is home to a wide variety of home periods and styles. If you are exploring the area on your own, the final link will connect you to an interactive website that provides historical information regarding many of the historic structures.
Bay City Historical Museum Tours:
The Bay City Historical Museum also offers a variety of guided tours from May until October that highlight Bay County’s history and community. All tours leave from the Museum lobby. If you are looking for something other than the usual and predictable historical tour, you may want to consider the “Hell’s Half Mile Walking Tour”. Here you will learn about the life of the lumberjacks (“shanty boys”) as they collected their weekly pay and headed for the strip along the waterfront called “Hell’s Half Mile.
Bay City Hall:
One glance at Bay City’s magnificent city hall tells you why the Romanesque Revival style popularized by H.H. Richardson became the mode of choice in late 19th century America. The clock tower soaring 180 feet and the multiple gables projecting from the red-tiled roof all convey a spirit of endurance and sturdy elegance. The interior features a grand atrium and ornate stairways worked in cast iron and trimmed in Victorian floral design. What a treasure!
National Cherry Festival, July 1-8, 2023, Traverse City: National Cherry Festival
The National Cherry Festival, steeped in tradition, resonates Michigan through and through. From bringing local agriculture to the one of Michigan’s premier destinations; to hosting guests in one of Michigan’s most beautiful beach towns, the Cherry Capital of the World Traverse City, the National Cherry Festival is proud be one of Michigan’s brightest gems.
The Village at Grand Traverse Commons: (Formerly the Traverse City State Hospital)
A Victorian-Italianate decommissioned psychiatric hospital on the National Register of Historic Places and a designated Michigan State Historic Site. Now redeveloped as The Village at Grand Traverse Commons. Check out the following options for a variety of tours including guided historic walking tours, tripod photography tours, and even an exploration of the asylum’s underground tunnel system. Do not forget to bring your flashlight!
Traverse City Architecture-A Mid-Century Modern Driving Tour:
Looking for something more contemporary? The following tours explore Mid-Century Modern Architecture in the Traverse City region. These tours comprise a broad mix of commercial, educational, academic, religious, and private residential buildings. Most of the structures were built between the early 50’s to the late 70’s. The Old Mission Peninsula Loop tour provides stunning views of both East and West Bays, with portions that travel directly alongside each shoreline.
Historic Traverse City Tours:
If you are a history buff, you will enjoy these tours through the historic downtown and neighborhoods of Traverse City. Learn about the early history of Traverse City and how it transformed from a logging and industrial center of northern Michigan into a premiere and robust vacation and tourism center that attracts visitors from across the state.
Wings Over Muskegon Air Show, July 6-9: Wings Over Muskegon Air Show | Michigan
The Wings Over Muskegon Air Show and the Yankee Air Museum proudly present a lineup of historic aircraft that are ready to take you on an air adventure. From WWII bombers to Huey helicopters, get ready for that once in a lifetime experience.
Millionaire lumber baron Charles Hackley built this house in 1889 for himself and his wife. The Queen Anne style mansion was designed by David S. Hopkins, and is a picturesque blending of asymmetrical massing, polychromatic exteriors and a wealth of gables, chimneys, porches, and bays. The wood carvings are exquisite and the leaded glass windows are exceptional. The Muskegon County Museum has restored the house and operates it today.
Hackley Public Library:
The Muskegon community was gifted this sturdy stone structure by Charles Hackley, one of the wealthiest men in America. The deep-cut arched entrance, the octagonal tower, and the large gable on the upper level all contribute to the Richardsonian Romanesque style building. The building was completed in 1890 and was designed by Patton and Fisher of Chicago. Compare this structure to the Grand Rapids Public Library; both are examples of millionaires’ gifts that took different stylistic paths to the same end of public-spirited generosity.
Francis de Sales Church:
The internationally acclaimed mid-century modernist Marcel Breuer designed only a couple of buildings in Michigan, but this Catholic church in Muskegon, finished in 1966, ranks high among his world triumphs. The church was designed about the same time he designed the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City.
A small-town train depot takes on fairy-tale proportions in this picturesque composition by architect Sidney J. Osgood. The great squat tower could easily pass for a samurai castle, the baby turret at its side fit for a maiden’s rescue, and the deeply recessed entry within the massive Romanesque arch a dragon’s lair. Muskegon County acquired and restored the station in the early 1990’s after Amtrak discontinued service between Muskegon and Holland. Today the Depot serves as the home of the Muskegon County Convention and Visitors.