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Petoskey author offers historical glimpse of Northern Michigan's Bay View community

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Mary Jane Doerr of Petoskey recently published her book, "Bay View, an American Idea."

Mary Jane Doerr of Petoskey recently published her book, "Bay View, an American Idea."

Evelyn Hall on the Bay View Campus is one of the finest examples of 1890s Queen Anne-style architecture.

Evelyn Hall on the Bay View Campus is one of the finest examples of 1890s Queen Anne-style architecture. /Photo Courtesy of the Bay View Association. Date unknown.

Journey back to Northern Michigan's Victorian times Thursday evening, Jan. 13, when long-time Petoskey resident and author Mary Jane Doerr presents a glimpse of historic Bay View, a neighboring community near Petoskey. This popular coastal resort area is widely known for its beautifully detailed Victorian homes, breathtaking views of Little Traverse Bay, unique Petoskey stones, noteworthy intellectual visitors, and stopovers by Ernest Hemmingway.

Anyone who enjoys the "Up North" wonders of Northern Michigan will surely enjoy this trip back in time when our great Wolverine state was indeed a wilderness yet a safe haven for bright, progressive and strong-willed individuals.

The Grand Rapids Historical Society,  the Greater Grand Rapids Women's History Council, and the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum are pleased to sponsor Doerr when she presents "Gathering for Change: The GR&I Railroad, Reform and the Women of Bay View," starting at 7 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 13 at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, 303 Pearl St. NW. Based on her recently published book, "Bay View, An American Idea," Doerr will offer us a comprehensive look at the Bay View Association, Petoskey's seasonal Victorian neighbor whose residents have welcomed tourists famous and not-so-famous since the late 19th century. Bay View is now a National Landmark Historic site. It is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places, which attests to the area’s high level of significance.
Bay View was founded in 1875 as a Methodist resort near Petoskey. Its roots stem from the camp meeting movement that began as a way for slaves to share religion and song. The practice merged with the burgeoning Chautauqua movement that blossomed into a period where intellectual luminaries would gather at popular destinations such as Bay View for discussions of exciting new ideas.
During its heyday, the Bay View  community welcomed 75,000 people each month by rail and boat. This large influx of people in this small but vibrant community included travelers from afar whose progressive ideas for early reforms gained momentum. Among the noteworthy visitors were Robert Mann, founder of the Juilliard String Quartet, Etta Motten, the first African-American to entertain at the White House, and George Gershwin's first choice for the role of Bess in his musical "Porgy and Bess."  Also among them were many nationally significant women who supported the emerging women's movement.
To learn more about Doerr's presentation, visit the Grand Rapids Historical Society's website. Her presentation Thursday is free and open to the public. Parking is free, too.
To learn more about her book, "Bay View: An American Idea," or Doerr's schedule while she's in Grand Rapids, visit her website.

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