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December 13, 2010

Mid-Century Goodness In Grayling, MI

By RetroRuth

I stumbled upon these pictures while Tom and I were sorting through our photo archive during yesterday’s snowstorm. Brrr!

I took these pictures in Grayling, MI back in the beginning of October, and for various and sundry reasons hadn’t posted them.  Well, today all the  procrastination ends!

The reason we were in the Grayling area was to take a look at Hartwick Pines, which is apparently the largest stretch of virgin white pines in Michigan’s lower penninsula. It was really pretty, and had a logging camp museum in it that was actually nicely done.  Anyway, what does all of this have to do with mid-century?

These cute frosted glasses were in the main section of the Hartwick Pines Welcome Century.  It was a display about the history of Hartwick Pines State Park, and they had a lot of souvenirs in glass cases.  These cute glasses were given away at gas stations in the area in the 1950’s.  This set was owned by a local man and donated to the Park.

On the way back from the Park, we decided to stick to the back roads going home rather than the highway.  This brought us through Grayling.

Grayling is a victim of the old story of “little town bypassed by big highway and forgotten in time”. During the 1950’s and 1960’s it was a vacation town.  Today hotels such as Warbler’s Way Inn are for sale or sit empty on the side of the old highway US-27 that ran through Grayling.  Today I-75 runs past the town and to the Mackinac Bridge.

The downtown is a throwback as well.

The old Chief Shoppenagon hotel and lounge, now vacant.  When we peered inside, there were still furnishings from the  70’s abandoned in the lobby.  The hotel was named after the real Chief Shoppenagon, a famed fishing guide and canoe maker who died in 1911.  If you want to see a picture of the interior of the hotel in it’s heyday, click here.

The local bakery, which was still in business.

Look closely.  Can you tell what this is???

That’s right, it is an old Ben Franklin store!

Photo from Wikipedia

It took me three times walking past the place to figure it out!

Despite some abandoned motels and main street stores, Grayling isn’t doing too badly. The town itself was very cute and well kept.  And it also had a vintage diner and a bottle cap museum!  Oh…you want to see those pictures?  Well, you’ll have to come back tomorrow!

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7 Responses to Mid-Century Goodness In Grayling, MI

  1. Sara in AZ Reply

    December 13, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    What a sweet little town. So sad about all those old hotels. It would be so cool to go inside and check everything out now though!

  2. Toni Reply

    December 13, 2010 at 2:31 pm

    Bakersfield has a road that used to be the highway. It’s lined with cool old motels that are hovels now. I’ve snapped some pics of stuff to send to you guys, but I want to get more this Christmas (sister in law lives there)

    • RetroRuth Reply

      December 14, 2010 at 9:47 am

      Sara! I know, I totally wanted into all of those places. I had to be content with pressing my nose up against the glass like a little kiddo. 🙂

      Toni – Can’t wait to see some pics! That is awesome!

  3. Eartha Reply

    December 14, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    That Chief Shoppenagon place looks amazing! And I love it when furnishings are left inside as if at any moment, they’ll open the doors again.

    It’s curious how they rearranged the “Ben Franklin” letters.

  4. Dave Rice Reply

    June 18, 2012 at 10:14 am

    My wife and I (before she was my wife) Took a weekend gettaway to Grayling when we lived in MI. It was a spur of the moment .. “Lets get outta here” type of trip, and I am SOOOO glad we took it. We rented snowmobiles and wound up eating at Chief Shoppenagon’s hotel. I havent a clue why we stopped in to eat there .. But when we did .. They had an ALL YOU CAN EAT seafood buffet! The best Ive EVER had. We talked to the locals, ate , drank , and this trip wound up being one of the best gettaways ever. So glad we had the opportunity to make memories there. So sad to hear it is no longer in buisness.
    Who owns the property ? .. AND … Please tell me they plan on getting the buisness back up and going!

  5. will merritt Reply

    September 9, 2016 at 11:02 pm

    my sister lived in grayling from 1973 until sometime in the 1990s my 2 sons and i would visit her on the weekend winter and summer it was a 4 hour drive from down state my mother moved there in 1984 i loved grayling in all seasons it was beautiful i cant belive what has happen to all motel espesily the chiefs hotel grayling did depend on the tourist trade of it didnt help when bear archury move to florida lot of jobs were lost fred bear was a regular at chief shoppenagons restrarant as well as the grayling restrarant old us 27 now m 27 looks deserted

  6. Ashley Baker Reply

    December 6, 2016 at 7:13 pm

    does anybody know if the building is still up???

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