This charming Victorian community beside Little Traverse Bay has its roots in religious expression and culture. The Methodist Church founded Bay View in 1875 as a summer retreat, citing as reasons the area's lakeside location, its healthful summer climate, and its proximity to the railroad steamer line. The community's programs included lectures, concerts, recitals and Sunday evening vespers. Thousands of visitors would congregate in Bay View to hear religious programs and sermons delivered from the preaching stand, which is now a part of the Bay View Historical Museum.
By 1877, streets, parks, and public areas had been platted in Bay View and 20 simple cottages were standing. Ten years later there were 125 cottages, a hotel (that is still in operation as the Bay View Inn), and a chapel. The community grew to 440 cottages, the majority of which were built before 1890. Six public buildings, including an auditorium and a post office, were built from 1912-1955. Despite its religious origins, Bay View broadened the subjects covered by its programs to include science and literature. The Bay View Reading Circle (1892-1921) had study groups located throughout the country. Over the years, Bay View hosted such speakers as Helen Keller, William Jennings Bryan and Booker T. Washington. Though Sunday vesper concerts are still a mainstay of the Bay View community, its current programs include musical and theatrical performances by the Conservatory of Music and the Bay View Theater Arts Department and are open to the public. Moreover, the Bay View library, established early in the community's history, is considered one of the best summer colony libraries in the United States.
Bay View's Victorian architecture has also earned it acclaim. In 1988, Bay View's 440 cottages were designated as a National Historic Landmark, only the 17th such site in the state of Michigan. Many of these historic homes are still occupied in the summertime by descendants of the founding families.
To find out more about the Bay View Association call 231.347.6225 or visit www.bayviewassociation.com.