Historic Sites

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Authentically, Manistee County has the finest collection of historical buildings in the State of Michigan. That distinction, made by the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office can be seen first-hand as today you are able to tour most of these wonderful historic sites. Manistee’s museums are full of intriguing information and artifacts about the people, places and industries that created the fabric of our eclectic communities. From the genealogy research room in the Manistee County Historic Museum to the Kaleva Train Depot, Manistee County offers so much for locals and visitors looking to learn about our county’s  History.


The Great Manistee Fire occurred on the same day as the Great Chicago Fire (October 8, 1871). Over half the city burned and left 1000 people homeless. Many of the Victorian homes in  Manistee are a result of the rebuilding period.


Manistee County is home to 28 Historic Sites as defined by the State of Michigan.  Here is a list of our top historic sites that are accessible to the public! (For a complete list of historic sites, view our online visitors guide by selecting the link above)

    Designated a Historic Site: 2010
    254 River Street, Manistee, MI  |  MAP
    Information: Built in 1907, the Manistee Iron Works, also known as the Excello factory, was a manufacturing company based in Manistee, Michigan.  The Manistee Iron Works was founded in the 1870’s as a foundry and machine shop.  In the late 1880’s the facility began manufacturing heavy machinery, including pumps and evaporation pans for the area’s burgeoning salt industry.  The Iron Works continued operations until 1981 and has had multiple uses since, including a sound state for 10 west studios.
    Designated a Historic Site: 1990
    Fifth Avenue Beach, Manistee, MI  |  MAP
    Information: Built in 1927 from cast iron and towering 39 feet above the Manistee Harbor, the North Pierhead Lighthouse is an architectural and nautical icon.  During times of need on the ever changing waters of Lake Michigan it signifies safety and security.  To the casual beach goer, it serves as a perfect backdrop for the photo with someone special.  Simply put, the lighthouse is a symbol,  A symbol used and sought out when in need, and is a constant reminder of our rich history along the banks of the Manistee River.
    Designated a Historic Site: 1972
    101 Maple Street, Manistee, MI  |  MAP
    Information: The Ramsdell Theatre is a historic playhouse and opera house in downtown Manistee.  Built in 1902-03 by a local lawyer and philanthropist Thomas Jefferson Ramsdell.  When built the opera house was comparable to some of the best opera and vaudeville houses in the country.  Recently, the theatre went through a major renovation and is beautifully resotred to its original splendor.  Today the theatre houses the Manistee Art Institute, Manistee Civic Players and other arts and entertainment groups.


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