Over the past 100 years, the Historical Society has conserved Petoskeys past, culminating in a storehouse of memories in the museum at Bayfront Park.
In 1969, The Little Traverse History Museum was incorporated as a non- profit organization to showcase the history of Emmett County. Its motto is, to preserve, advance and disseminate knowledge of the history of the Little Traverse Bay area, said Candace Fitzsimons, director of the LTHM. Fitzsimons has been director here for the last 16 years.
The museum is located in the renovated historic Petoskey depot, erected in 1892 by the Chicago and Western Michigan Railroad. It was a time when train depots were meant to be attractive and welcoming as visitors escaped the cities and flocked to Up North.
The depot became part of the Pere Marquette Railroad in 1899. In 1947, it merged with the Chesapeake and Ohio line. It was abandoned in the 1950s - fewer visitors were arriving by train the automobile now reigned.
But today, the depots transformation into a museum is just as welcoming to visitors.
The museum attracts approximately 14,000 persons annually, Fitzsimons said. In the museums center lobby there is an exhibit on permanent display of memorabilia, relating to Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Ernest Hemingway.
It is a favorite exhibit for many visitors -- and visitors come from all over the world, Fitzsimons noted.
The exhibit helps our visitors learn how important northern Michigan was to Hemingway as a young man, explained Fitzsimons. Hemingway spent the first 18 summers of his life in our region. We showcase the special haunts and landmarks that Hemingway later wrote about in his novels.
The museum includes the documentary narrated by his nephew, Ernest Hemingway Mainland, signed first editions and family pictures. Much of the showcase includes items donated by family and others such as furniture, photographs and signed copies of much of his beloved works.
His style of writing somehow just connects his work somehow captures the reader it seems as if they find something within themselves reading his books, Fitzsimons said. They will go to any length to see his memorabilia. Hemingway devotees have come from as far away as Russia and Turkey.
BACK TO THE FUTURE
In the East Wing exhibits includes highlights of such area notables as Ephraim Shay and Chief Petoskey, along with the backstory on Bay View, Boyne USA, and Bay Harbor among others. The museum also has an extensive collection of Native American artifacts -- including Odawa arrowheads, tools and quillwork -- which has proved very popular among visitors.
Recent exhibits have included work by 20th century potters Stanley Kellogg of Petoskey and Eric Strader, of Indiana. Another focus is that of commemorating Ottawa Chief Ignatius Petoskey with a statue.
Close to 100 volunteers assist the bayside facility as well as satellite museums at Bay Harbor, Cross Village, and rotating exhibits at the Pellston Regional Airport. Bay Harbor is open year-round in the shopping district near the Bay Harbor marina, while the Cross Village Museum maintains summer hours and closes on Labor Day weekend.
Little Traverse History Museums public viewing hours for the off-season are Monday Saturday from 1-4 p.m. Admission is $1 adults with children welcome at no charge. Also visit the Bay Harbor History Museum and Signature Store located at the Village at Bay Harbor, Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.