Christian Resort or Chautauqua?
We exited M-119 and found ourselves in a perfect Norman Rockwell town. I was eager to learn more about the summer resort community, with over 400 Victorian homes.
I knew the town had religious roots, beginning as part of the Methodist Camp Meeting movement in 1875. I also knew Bay View adopted the Chautauqua movement in 1885, bringing educational lectures and music to the community. But when I booked our stay, I didn't know about Bay View Association's controversial rules that discriminate against non-Christians. I would learn more.
The Terrace - Opened 1911
We turned off on Encampment Road and found this odd building in the middle of a lovely Victorian neighborhood. The dorm like appearance put me off a bit, until I realized this was the back of the building.
We passed through the porch to an equally homey living area. I spotted a couple of guests quietly reading. They were actually turning pages. There was no electronic glow!
Big Old House
The front and back doors were open, letting in lovely Michigan air. I spotted some bibles and started thinking we might have to hide our wine sipping.
"The Tea Room"
The room that was originally called the Tea Room, looked surprisingly grand with chandeliers and shiny floors.
We spotted a window in the Tea Room that let us know we could indulge in more than tea. The owner, Mo Rave chatted while he got us a beer and wine. He said they'd served 80 guests the day before. He was enjoying the quiet Monday evening.
The Best Side!
The other side of the inn was much more appealing, with dramatic stairs leading up to the dining porch. We could have parked on the street at the bottom of the hill, but that would have been a long hike up with our bags!
"Homelike and Attractive"
I found an old advertisement, that bragged about Bay View's newest and most modern hotel. Even today at 106, this modern, Arts and Crafts style building is still one of the newer buildings in town.
Enjoying the Porch
The porch with its chandeliers and white table cloths, was a piece of heaven. We chatted with another couple who asked if it was our first stay. "It's our 9th visit!" They bragged. They assured us that we would be returning.
Our room was on the third floor. There was no elevator, so I took a break and wandered on the second floor. I spotted more bibles on a table and started to feel like I was at church camp. I know most hotels have bibles, courtesy of the Gideon missionaries. But they're usually in drawers.
I'm always a little curious about doors and sometimes I have to take a peek. The short door turned out to be a laundry chute. At the end of the hall, I was drawn to the screen door. I wanted to step out and enjoy that glowing light, but the porch didn't look like it would hold me.
Our corner room was tiny, but pretty darn sweet. One window looked down at a home that reminded me of my family's yellow house in Grinnell, Iowa... 50 years ago.
There was a lot of furniture in our tiny room, which should have inspired me to play one of my favorite childhood games, Don't Step on the Floor. That game was a lot more challenging in the Yellow House, with larger rooms and less furniture.
I had to chuckle as I examined the decor. The chenille spread, lacy curtains and Venetian blinds, all took me back. I counted 3 framed poems in our room and they were all about mothers. I named the room Mother's Room.
Pizza on the Porch
I wonder if I've ever eaten pizza on a porch? If I lived in Bay View, I would make it a weekly thing. The Greek pizza was excellent, but the setting made it even more delicious.
Sitting high on the porch, we dined and took in the view. I felt like I was watching my childhood neighborhood. Young boys walked by carrying fishing poles. A young girl scolded her misbehaving puppy. We saw a couple of families headed towards the bay. We hurried to finish up, so we could catch the sunset over Little Traverse Bay.
Sunset at 9:15
We played it close, but made it to the small park in time. I counted 21 bikes and 1 scooter, in the grass. The bike owners had already crossed over the pedestrian bridge.
The view from the bridge was idyllic. Sunset & bay in one direction, trees & Victorian homes in the other.
Back to The Terrace
We headed back and lingered on the porch a while longer, then headed up before "quiet hours" which started at 11. I laughed when we pulled down the chenille spread and I spotted the bubble gum colored sheets. That would have delighted me as a child.
In the morning Don and I heard doors and creaking floors, as guests headed for breakfast. We followed along and found a mouthwatering buffet with everything from frittatas to biscuits and gravy. We ate well and headed off for a long walk. Our mission... to try once again to understand this beautiful, but almost too perfect town.
We met a workman who offered maybe too much information. Bottom line... you have to be Christian to own a house in Bay View.
I so enjoyed our stay, but it will always be tainted by what we learned during our visit.
One More Note
I have always loved experiencing places that remind me of the good old days. Our stay in Bay View, unfortunately also reminded me of the discrimination and division of the past... and today. Maybe if the Bay View Association adopted new bylaws that fit this century, it could become inclusive, again. In 1876, any man or woman of good moral character could become a "member" and own a home. Maybe we need to go further back in time!
My New Year's Resolution for 2014 was to start documenting some of the memorable overnights I've had in some very odd and curious motels and hotels. Like the adventures in my Dining Blog, I have learned to enjoy the surprises that happen when you step out of the comfort zone, far away from the well-known chains.
I began with a few entries recalling my very first home away from home memories from my youth. Then, I started sharing about some of the quirky and unforgettable motels, hotels and inns that my husband and I have discovered in recent years.
The best part about this challenge was making some lists with Don and getting on the road in search of new overnight adventures. I gave myself a 2-year goal to write up 90 stories and the goal was met. Now we just keep on adding!