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andrew.w

Manistee

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Two weeks ago I had a few hours of free time at work and decided to go on a photo taking rampage. The majority of the pictures were from Manistee but I also have updates for my Ludington thread, which I will probably post tomorrow.

Manistee is about half an hour's drive north of Ludington. It has a population of around 6,600, but by the look of downtown (and the enormity of its churches) you would probably think it was larger. Because the area was very wealthy during the late 1800s, many grand Victorians were built and still exist today. Like Ludington, Manistee was a lumbering town. However, much more of the actual "lumber barons" lived in Manistee while the barons of Ludington were from areas such as Milwaukee and Chicago and didn't contribute their wealth into the development of the city.

This first post is of Manistee's River Street, basically the main street of downtown. The entire district is on the National Register of Historic Places.

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Welcome to River Street! (sorry the gold letters didn't come out right)

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At the right is the Tuscan Grill, the most recent of 4 restaurants that have occupied that storefront in the last years. All of them have been pretty good; I don't know why exactly they haven't made it.

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Same building as the one at the left of the last picture. The top reads Manistee National Bank (now an art gallery). Unfortunately I have no other knowledge of its history.

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This picture unintentionally showcases a lamp post that is part of the cities most recent streetscape projects (which also included the brick paver sidewalks the arch from the first photo and some parking lot landscape improvements). Note that the lamps are set atop stone piers rather than mounted directly to the ground as is usually done.

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Hmm...cornice removal or cornice fall-off? Maybe a bit of both?

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Like in Ludington, the main street runs roughly east-west. Thus, all of the buildings on one side of the street have awnings and the buildings on the other side of the street have none.

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Originally the Manistee County Savings Bank (according to the carving above the second floor).

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The Vogue Theater. Built in the 30s as a single screen movie theater and later split into two screens. The theater closed after the new movie theater opened in Ludington and is now apparently for sale. I've only been inside once, but the interior is hideous, despite being pretty much original. I'm tossed between considering the exterior cool or ugly.

The color change in the vertical sign is the result of panels recently falling off.

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Hopefully some of those storefronts will eventually be improved. With the historic status at least the storefronts can't get worse.

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The Ramsdell building, built as the office of wealthy businessman T. J. Ramsdell who also built and owned the Ramsdell Theater (to appear in the next part of the tour). It was recently converted into the Ramsdell Inn, a hotel/bed and breakfast

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By the time that I got this far on River Street, I had run out of picture-taking time so I snaped this one last shot that sort of covers the next three blocks. I'll cover these next blocks in greter depth next time I get a chance to add to the photo tour.

...but back on the other side of River Street there are two blocks that are outside of the area defined by the arch:

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I thought this old factory looked great in black and white:

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One thing I forgot to mention - and take pictures of - is the fact that River Street really does follow the Manistee River (thus the crooks and bends) and the backs of the buildings on the North side of the street face the river. Many of these buildings, especially the restaurants have back patios and the city has also created a very nice river walk.

Pictures from the south side of the city and the grand buildings of Maple Street hill to be posted soon - probably tomorrow or the next day.

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When I was a kid I used to spend summers in Manistee with friends. It's a very quaint town. What i'm suprised to see, is that there are no pics of the Ramsdell Theatre. It's pretty much Iconic to Manistee. Great pics though andrew thanks for sharing.

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What i'm suprised to see, is that there are no pics of the Ramsdell Theatre. It's pretty much Iconic to Manistee.

Sorry, I'm saving it for the next group of pictures that I'm working on formating right now. It will probably be posted tomorrow. But it is definitelly iconic, and after its recent restoration, it is beautiful!

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Great pics, you just gotta love these historic small towns. I'm looking forward to seeing the rest of your pics.

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When I went up north last summer to visit my parents, I took a huge detour from Detroit up the Lake Michigan coast and found myself coming into Manistee for the first time in my life.

I was SO shocked at what I saw. I was amazed at how beautiful it is. I'm going to try and make a similar detour sometime this summer as well, just so I can go spend the afternoon getting to know this little beauty a little better. It's definately one of Michigan's hidden small town secrets. :)

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There are so many gems along the Lake Michigan shoreline. I should get some shots of Elk Rapids when I'm there again and show you guys. Such quaint architecture and real urbanism! :D

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Okay, here are some more:

These photos are from what I have termed the Maple St. Hill:

First here is the Ramsdell Theater as MJLO mentioned:

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A bit of history on this Theater:

- construction finished in 1902

- in 1923 the widow of the owner, T.J. Ramsdell, died and the building was considered for demolition before the Rotary Club bought it in 1925

- from 1930-1936 the theater was leased by the owner of the new Vogue Theater. During this time the theater is closed to avoid any competition

- 1942-1949 the theater is closed for WWII

- listed on the National Register of Hisoric Places in 1972

- restoration of the theater began in 1983

- restoration of the theater house completed in 2000

- restoration of second floor assembly hall completed in 2003(?)

(This information came from a small pamphlet given out by the Theater at its reopening.)

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Here is a picture that gives a sense of the interior. It is a scan of a picture that I have (not mine) that was already not a good copy so the quality isn't very good. Here you can see the hand painted curtain. The wall are actually green and covered with pink and gold stencilwork per the original design. The light bulbs on the ceiling outline the dome and painted sky.

Across a side street is the Manistee Public Library, yet another grand building. It was built in 1906.

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Then next door is the Masonic Temple. Except that it looked empty or abandoned (the grass hadn't even been mowed.)

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There really was no sign declairing that it was the Masonic Temple, only the Mason's symbol over the entrance

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Looking back up the hill with all three buildings on the left:

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Across the street is the city hall (originally the post office)

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Further up the hill is the Manistee County Courthouse:

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This building no doubt replaced an earlier courthouse from the late 1800s/early 1900s that was probably very beautiful. But as far as mid-century design goes, it isn't too bad.

A few notable houses also grace the Maple St. Hill

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(That's the back of the Ramsdell Theater in the background)

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Some day I need to find out more about this beautiful mansion.

One more part of the photo tour to be posted tommorow...

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Okay, I didn't post the rest of my photos the next day, but here they are:

Some of Manistee's beautiful Churches:

Holy Trinity Episcopal Church

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This tower is located at the rear of the church. I took other photos of the church, but I wasn't happy with how they turned out.

New Life Tabernacle

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First Congregational United Church of Christ

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While reading the informational plaques that the historical society set around the city, I found out that First Congregational was designed by William Le Baron Jenney, architect of the first skyscraper to utilize steel construction.

Apparently Jenney designed seven buildings for Manistee, of which only two exist today: one being the church and the other a small stick victorian house.

Guardian Angel Catholic Church

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I believe that this is the tallest structure in Manistee.

The Babcock House

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The owner of this house has restored the exterior and first floor and occationally offers tours.

Manistee Fire Station, still in opperation

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One of those occations when it's impossible not to have a powerline in the picture!

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Now for some pictures from this week:

A little more of River Street

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The dark brown/black building in both of these pictures with "The A. H. Lyman Company" printed over the first floor is the new location of the Manistee Historical Museum. They also still use the museum located in what I believe was originally the Water Works Building.

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It looks like Manistee currently has a small temporary sculpture display. I think that they are all done by local artists.

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This fountain located on a small triangular space formed by the intersection of River and Water Streets was installed as part of the street improvement project.

****BTW, does anyone have a problem with the size of these pictures? Some might think these are too large but my other pictures are probably tiny on some computer screens.****

The River Walk and River Channel

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These next few are of the river walk from the park across the river.

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With the great hardscape and landscape that the city has installed on the river front, I would like to see some stores open at basement (ground) level along the river front. Knowing that many of the basements aren't even used and have decent height ceilings, I think that stores and restraunts on the river could really make the river walk an attraction.

The Cypress St. (US-31) Draw Bridge, built in the 30s

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Looking west down the channel

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One more short post for tonight:

I noticed this hole about two weeks ago:

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When I was taking the last set of pictures, I noticed a trailer on the site with a rendering and advertisement of the development that will soon be filling the hole:

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And their wbsite:

http://www.riverparcplace.com

This next section of the post is a tribute to two doomed buildings that are to be replaced by condos:

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And what it is to be replaced by:

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The existing building sits right about where the entrance drive and middle set of 8 townhouses are on the site plan.

The second building is the Washington School on the north side of the city. The school was closed and sold a few years ago. I don't know exactly what will replace it.

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Someone should really show the owners what's being done at Union Square.

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Great pictures of what used to be a sort of dead town. I always felt that Manistee was the next great thing along Lake Michigan. There was a time it was eclipsed by Ludington and Traverse City. Sort of a Muskegon of NW Michigan. Today the town is vibrant.

How about some pictures of fishing at Manistee? Of the ports I have fished out of on Lake Michigan, Manistee is #1 or #2 because deep water is withing 5 miles of port compared to 15-20 miles at Grand Haven and Manistee has one of the best Municipal boat launches on Lake Michigan. You are less than 5 minutes from the lake after leaving the launch compared to 30+ at Grand Haven and 10-15 minutes at Port Sheldon.

The boat launch

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Looking upstream from the launch.

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Looking towards Lake Michigan

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Some Manistee area Salmon.

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Hi Andrew,

The house you were interested in is called the Dempsey House - you can find a little information here -

http://www.manisteecountychamber.com/HistBldgs.htm

I grew up in Manistee half a block down from that house. I think it's now a bed and breakfast, but I was just there this weekend and the house is for sale. I went to Guardian Angels church and where my parents live now is near the Congregational church. The Ramsdell is supposedly haunted.

Anyway, I enjoyed seeing your pictures of where I'm from. Thanks!

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Manistee is also home to the largest and tallest giant sequoia in the eastern United States (I think the largest and tallest east of Utah). I have to get up there some time to see it.

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Giant Sequoia in Manistee

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Hi Andrew,

The house you were interested in is called the Dempsey House - you can find a little information here -

http://www.manisteecountychamber.com/HistBldgs.htm

I grew up in Manistee half a block down from that house. I think it's now a bed and breakfast, but I was just there this weekend and the house is for sale. I went to Guardian Angels church and where my parents live now is near the Congregational church. The Ramsdell is supposedly haunted.

Anyway, I enjoyed seeing your pictures of where I'm from. Thanks!

I'm glad you appreciated my pictures. Definitely feel free to share anything about the city you want and check out the rest of UrbanPlanet.

Also, thank you for that link, it gives the names of quite a few houses I didn't know for reading the plaques the historical society set around the city. It looks like they need a new picture for the Wente house, since it has seen some major renovations in the last couple years. Even though it isn't any more historically acurrate, it certaily looks 100 percent better.

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Manistee is also home to the largest and tallest giant sequoia in the eastern United States (I think the largest and tallest east of Utah). I have to get up there some time to see it.

I didn't know that even existed! I've even been by the Lake Bluff Audubon Society and live about 45min south and have never heard about it.

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Hopefully Andrew doesn't mind me adding to his two year old thread, but I don't see any reason why I should start a new one for just a few photos.

These first few are actually in Filer Township:

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The Golden Filer House (AKA Kowalski Place):

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Two of the three big factories on Manistee Lake. I believe the one on the left is the Morton Plant, the largest salt plant in the world:

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I love this little building:

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More to come later

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Nope, your fine. When I made this thread I didn't even have a digital camera yet.

I find it interesting that the section of Filer Township on the hill above the Lake was never annexed into the city limits. It's developed in blocks and just about as dense as anywhere else in the city and assumingly has city services.

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Nope, your fine. When I made this thread I didn't even have a digital camera yet.

I find it interesting that the section of Filer Township on the hill above the Lake was never annexed into the city limits. It's developed in blocks and just about as dense as anywhere else in the city and assumingly has city services.

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One more short post for tonight:

I noticed this hole about two weeks ago:

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When I was taking the last set of pictures, I noticed a trailer on the site with a rendering and advertisement of the development that will soon be filling the hole:

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I don't know if they're slow or if the project was put on hold due to the housing situation, but this place still isn't done:

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