In 2018, in collaboration with the Manistee County Historical Museum and with funding through the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development, the Manistee County Visitor’s Bureau introduced a comprehensive tour of the historic sites spanning the county. The Manistee Historic Sites Tour showcases more than 100 historic sites, this self-guided tour will take you back through Manistee’s history introducing you the past through architectural structures and other significant sites.
On the Visitor’s Bureau website, visitors will find the tour divided into 8 segments each highlighting a segment of the tour, such as churches or homes, focusing on different areas of interest. 20 of the most prominent sites also feature videos narrated by CBS Seal Team actor Toni Trucks. Toni, born in Grand Rapids and was raised in Manistee, lent her voice to the project because of her love for the place she calls home.
From a majestic theater that gave James Earl Jones his start and the world’s oldest continuously manned operating fire station in Manistee’s historic downtown to the childhood home of Harriet Quimby, America’s first female pilot in Arcadia, visitors will be delighted by the stories and sites shared along the route.
While in Manistee, not only can you see the historic sites, but you can also experience them first-hand. The Ramsdell Inn and Dempsey Manor invite you to stay surrounded in the grandeur of Victorian architecture.
The Ramsdell Inn, a historic boutique hotel, was built in 1891 and features Victorian architecture, stained glass windows, and elaborately carved woodwork. The hotel was extensively renovated in 2003 to provide modern amenities in a charming historic setting.
The Dempsey Manor, built by Lumber Baron, the Honorable James Dempsey in 1894, is a beautifully preserved stately mansion featuring the architecture and furnishings in the Victorian Period style. This beautiful Bed & Breakfast offers a selection of boutique guest rooms and suites allowing you to immerse yourself in the Victorian history of our region.
New in ‘22
In 2022, the Manistee Historic Site Tour will launch a new phase of the project, again funded through a USDA Rural Development grant. The second phase will include an enhanced guide, wayfinding signage, and a Founder’s Walk sculptural path introducing those responsible for building the foundation for the Manistee we see today.
Preserving Our Past
Mark Fedder, the Executive Director of the Manistee County Historical Museum, shared that Manistee may have been the first county in Michigan to showcase its historic assets to this level of depth and detail. The tour allowed the Bureau and the Museum to work together in documenting the buildings not just for the purpose of tourism, but also for historic preservation. When you follow the tour of these residences, churches, and buildings, you discover their beauty and craftsmanship, allowing you to see how Manistee residents used to live and work.
The Manistee County Visitor’s Bureau has created 14 self-guided tours to introduce visitors to all of the great things to see, do, and learn while in our region. From historic sites to artisan markets, these tours cover 835 miles and take you to 375 sites across Manistee County. Although you may not cover that much ground in one visit, these tours provide plenty of reasons to come back again and again.