Article Overview: Historic Sites In Michigan
Historic Sites In Michigan. More Than Just Parks has 10 incredible must-see sites for you to visit.
I’ve been to so many of these amazing places since retiring from teaching in 2018. Did I mention that I taught history? I spent a lifetime teaching about the history behind these momentous sites. Then I got to see them firsthand. And now I’m sharing the stories of these incredible places with you. It doesn’t get any better than that!
I’m going to give you my list of the 10 Historic Sites In Michigan that you’ll want to see.
To be clear, this list includes national park sites (as in sites managed by the National Park Service) as opposed to national parks. It also includes sites not managed by the National Park Service. After all, we’re more than just parks!
If you are planning a trip to Michigan then you might want to pick up a copy of Michigan Bucket List Adventure Guide: Explore 100 Offbeat Destinations You Must Visit! It’s written by Sean Homes.
Without further ado, let’s dive in.
Table Of Contents: Historic Sites In Michigan
Historic Sites In Michigan
- Top 10 Historic Sites In Michigan
- Top 5 Historic Sites In Michigan
Top 10 Historic Sites In Michigan
10. Tibbits Opera House
The Tibbits Opera House is a historic theater located in Coldwater, Michigan. It was constructed in 1882 and has been in continuous operation since then, making it one of the oldest and most well-known theaters in the state of Michigan. The theater has a capacity of 500 seats and features an art gallery and gift shop.
In 2012, the theater underwent a complete restoration effort to preserve its historical integrity and improve its facilities. The parking lot has also been recently repaved to accommodate additional traffic, making it more accessible to visitors.
The theater features a mural by Disney artist Alfred Pike and offers tours by appointment, allowing visitors to learn about the history and architecture of the theater, as well as the various events and productions that have taken place there over the years.
The Tibbits Opera House is a cultural and historical treasure in Coldwater, Michigan and continues to be a popular destination for theater enthusiasts and history buffs.
Windemere, also known as The Ernest Hemingway Cottage, is a historic cottage located on Walloon Lake near Traverse City, Michigan. The cottage was built in 1904 by Ernest Hemingway’s father and it was where Ernest Hemingway spent many of his summers until he turned 21. It is believed that Hemingway’s time in Michigan both sparked his love of the outdoors and provided inspiration for his short stories, such as “The Big Two-Hearted River.”
The cottage was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1968, and it is now open to the public for tours by appointment. Visitors can learn about the history of the cottage, the Hemingway family, and the impact that Hemingway’s time in Michigan had on his literary career.
The cottage has been preserved to look as it did when Hemingway lived there, and visitors can see original family furnishings, photographs, and other Hemingway memorabilia.
Windemere is a unique and important piece of literary history, and it offers visitors the opportunity to learn more about Ernest Hemingway’s life and work, as well as the role that Michigan played in shaping his writing. It’s a must-visit destination for literature enthusiasts and fans of Ernest Hemingway.
8. Alden Dow House & Studio
The Alden B. Dow House and Studio is a historic house and architectural studio located in Midland, Michigan.
It was designed and built by Alden B. Dow, a prominent architect and designer who is considered by many to be in the same league as Frank Lloyd Wright. Dow’s house was built in 1932 and is considered one of the most significant examples of Dow’s work.
The house is considered one of the 25 “Best Historic Homes in America” by Traditional Home magazine and it is located near the Dow Gardens, providing visitors with the opportunity to see beautiful architecture and natural beauty in one place.
The house features a unique blend of modern design elements and natural materials and it is a great place to learn about the work of Alden B. Dow and the mid-century modern architecture movement.
Visitors can take a tour of the house and studio to learn about the history and design of the house, as well as the life and work of Alden B. Dow. The tour may include the interior of the house, the studio and the gardens.
It’s a great place for architecture enthusiasts, history buffs, and those interested in learning more about the work of Alden B. Dow and his contributions to the world of architecture.
7. Norton Mound Group
The Norton Mound Group is a collection of ancient mounds located in Michigan. The mounds were built by the Hopewell culture, a pre-Columbian indigenous people who lived in the area around 2,000 years ago.
The Norton Mound Group is considered to be one of the most important and best-preserved Hopewell mounds in the western Great Lakes region and it was formerly home to over 40 mounds.
Although some of the mounds have been excavated over the years, many artifacts, such as grave offerings and other cultural items have been discovered, providing valuable insights into the lives and culture of the Hopewell people. The mounds also offer insight into how the mounds themselves were constructed.
The site is not currently accessible to the public, and it’s currently under threat from erosion and flooding, as well as nearby development.
Despite this, it is still considered one of the most important historical sites in Michigan and it is an important part of the state’s cultural heritage.
6. Shrine Of The Pines
The Shrine of the Pines is a location near Baldwin, Michigan that features the work of furniture maker Raymond Overholzer.
His work is known for its natural style and extreme elements, such as a table made from a 700-pound stump and a rocking chair made from roots that is perfectly balanced.
Visitors can also see a fireplace made from 70 tons of stone and over 400 individually hand-crafted items in the nearby Widows Cabin. It is located near the Red Moose Lodge and Pere Marquette River Lodge.
Top 5 Historic Sites In Michigan
5. River Raisin National Battlefield Park
The Battle of Raisin River, also known as the Battle of the River Raisin, was a conflict that took place during the War of 1812.
It began on August 15, 1812, when General James Winchester’s Kentuckians attacked Frenchtown (now Monroe, Michigan) in order to secure supplies.
On January 18, 1813, Winchester’s troops were able to take the settlement. However, four days later, the British forces and their Native American allies counterattacked and forced Winchester’s men to retreat.
During the battle, some of the wounded American troops were taken prisoner and marched northwards, and between 40 and 65 of the wounded Americans were killed by Native American troops.
These atrocities led to “Remember the Raisin” becoming a rallying cry for the Americans during the War of 1812.
Things To Do At River Raisin
At River Raisin, you have an opportunity to walk the hallowed grounds and final resting place for many of the fallen soldiers.
Visitors will see the historical markers while there. Southeast Michigan, believe it or not, witnessed the greatest defeat for the United States in the War of 1812.
It was here that the largest number of prisoners of war ever be taken by a foreign power from within the United States and the largest number of American soldiers killed during any single battle of the War of 1812 occurred.
The Battlefield is the site of the greatest victory for the largest Native Nation alliance ever assembled in the United States. They came to defend their lands against foreign invaders.
Their victory, however, ultimately led to their forced removal.
RELATED: 10 BEST Civil War Sites In America
Enjoy The River Raisin Heritage Trail
On a lighter note, the River Raisin Heritage Trail has eight miles of paved biking and hiking trails which provide scenic routes. Visitors can walk, run, cycle and/or in-line skate on this trails.
The trail connects major historic sites, state and local parks, nationally significant buildings and ecological features.
4. Fort Mackinac
Historic Fort Mackinac was founded during the American Revolution and was originally located at what is now Mackinaw City. However, due to its vulnerability to American attack, the British moved the fort to Mackinac Island in 1780.
The Americans took control of the fort in 1796. In July 1812, during the War of 1812, the British captured the fort in the first land engagement of the war in the United States. In 1814, the Americans attempted to retake the fort but failed in a bloody battle.
The fort was returned to the United States after the war and remained active until 1895. During these years, Mackinac Island underwent a transformation from a center of the fur trade to a major summer resort. The stone ramparts, south sally port, and Officer’s Stone Quarters are all part of the original fort that was built over 225 years ago.
The other buildings in the fort date from the late 1790s to 1885, and have been restored to how they looked during the final years of the fort’s occupation. Interpreters at the fort depict U.S. Army soldiers from this same period, dressed in distinctive Prussian-inspired uniforms.
Things To Do At The Fort
I recommend the following:
- Kids’ Quarters – It’s one of the newest exhibits at Fort Mackinac. The exhibit space features hands-on displays and interactive games that give visitors of all ages a look at what soldier and civilian life was like at Fort Mackinac.
- Post Hospital – Check out the “Military Medicine at Mackinac: 1780-1895” exhibit at Fort Mackinac’s Post Hospital.
- Guardhouse – A visit to the Guardhouse offers a glimpse into military justice at Fort Mackinac.
- Drill Program – The Drill Program invites visitors of all ages to participate in basic soldier drills on the Parade Ground at Fort Mackinac.
- Reading Room – Visitors can page through newspapers of the time or use interactive touch screens to scan through the kinds of periodicals that Fort Mackinac soldiers read. (Source: Fort Mackinac State Historic Park)
3. Motown Museum
The Motown Museum, located in Detroit, Michigan, is a must-see destination for music lovers. It celebrates the cultural phenomenon that is Motown, a genre of music that originated in the city and was characterized by a smooth, soulful sound.
The museum is housed in the original Motown headquarters, known as Hitsville USA, and features the world-famous Studio A, where many legendary Motown artists, such as The Temptations and Marvin Gaye, recorded some of their most iconic songs.
Visitors can take a tour of the studio, listen to music from the era, and even shop for Motown-themed merchandise in the gift shop.
The museum is a unique and immersive way to experience the rich musical history of Detroit and the impact of Motown on the world.
2. Henry Ford Museum Of American Innovation
The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation is a must-see destination for history and technology enthusiasts. Spanning over 250 acres and featuring 26 million artifacts, the museum tells the story of American innovation and history over a period of 300 years.
The museum includes four unique attractions. There’s a repository of artifacts from 19th century household items to JFK’s presidential limousine and Greenfield Village.
It’s which is an open-air museum that features a collection of historic buildings such as the Wright Brothers’ Cycle Shop; The Ford Rouge Factory Tour, which offers a behind-the-scenes look at the manufacturing process of Ford cars.
There’s also the bus that Rosa Parks rode on, to Thomas Edison’s Menlo Park Complex, and finally the Giant Screen Experience theatre, which features educational and entertaining films about American history and innovation.
1. Automotive Hall Of Fame
The Automotive Hall of Fame is a museum and hall of fame located in Dearborn, Michigan, that celebrates the men and women whose innovations in the automotive industry have changed the world and revolutionized transportation.
The museum houses cars, displays, and changing exhibits, and also includes the Hall of Honor, which features an 11-foot-high and 65-foot-long mural that depicts the impact of the motor vehicle on the world’s culture.
The mural is painted with 90 images, which showcase the contributions of individuals and companies to the development of the automotive industry and the role of the car in shaping modern society.
The Automotive Hall of Fame is a must-see destination for car enthusiasts, as well as anyone interested in the history of transportation and the impact of the automobile on the world.
Take A Deeper Dive
And if you love cars and want to learn more about them then check out The Life of the Automobile: The Complete History of the Motor Car by Steven Parissien.
Readers learn the grand and turbulent history of the motor car, from its earliest appearance in the 1880s―as little more than a powered quadricycle―and the innovations of the early pioneer carmakers.
The author examines the advances of the interwar era, the Golden Age of the 1950s, and the iconic years of the 1960s to the decades of doubt and uncertainty following the oil crisis of 1973, the global mergers of the 1990s, the bailouts of the early twenty-first century, and the emergence of the electric car.
List Of Historic Sites In Michigan
- Automotive Hall Of Fame
- Henry Ford Museum Of American Innovation
- Motown Museum
- Fort Mackinac
- River Raisin National Battlefield Park
- Shrine Of The Pines
- Norton Mound Group
- Alden Dow House & Studio
- Tibbits Opera House
About The People Behind More Than Just Parks
You should probably know that we don’t just make this stuff up out of thin air. My sons have spent their entire adult lives exploring and filming America’s national parks and public lands.
As for me, I’m a retired lifelong educator and a proud dad of these two wonderful guys who are hopelessly obsessed with the national parks. I taught history for over a quarter of a century. Now I enjoy researching and writing articles for More Than Just Parks. I’m always on the hunt for topics where nature and history intersect so please feel free to share any ideas that you might have with me.
We’ve worked with the National Park Service, the Department of Interior, and the U.S. Forest Service for years creating films on important places and issues. Our work has been featured in leading publications all over the world and even some people outside of our immediate family call us experts on the national parks.
Meet The Parks Brothers
We’re Jim Pattiz and Will Pattiz, collectively known as the Pattiz Brothers (and sometimes the Parks Brothers) and we absolutely LOVE the national parks.
Our goal here at More Than Just Parks is to share the beauty of America’s national parks and public lands through stunning short films in an effort to get Americans and the world to see the true value in land conservation.
We hope you’ll follow our journey through the parks and help us to keep them the incredible places that they are. If you’re interested in joining the adventure then please sign up below!