It’s official — Glen Park is on the register of historic sites

Representatives from various groups that made possible the naming of Glen Park on the state register of historic places pose by the new marker. (Dave Yarnell/News Advocate)

ONEKAMA — It was more fitting than one might think that officials from the Manistee County Visitors and Convention Bureau were in the Onekama Days Parade early Sunday afternoon.

At a ceremony later dedicating the state historical marker at Glen Park, Steve Harold of the Manistee County Historical Museum pointed out that the marketing of Glen House resort hotel between the springs and Portage Lake, built in 1886, was the first of the county’s efforts to develop tourism.

Speakers at the dedication ceremony besides Harold, who is curator and director emeritus of the historical museum, included Tom Truscott of the Michigan State Historical Commission; Howard Hughes and Jon Phillips, co-chairs of the Onekama Village and Township Community Parks and Recreation Committee; David Meister, Onekama Township supervisor; and Mark Fedder, director of the Manistee County Historical Museum.

“It’s through the efforts of the joint committee that work like this gets done,” Meister said.

Truscott said, “This is one of the finest manuscripts we’ve every received; in fact I got tired lugging it around. You can tell by looking at it that this is a case of something getting done because no one cares who gets the credit for it.”

Through the program, however, much credit was given to Onekama resident and assistant museum director Tom Gerhardt, who did the research and put the manuscript together to submit to the state for the historic marker.

“One of the main things we do at the museum is research,” Fedder said. “We are always learning something new. It’s through the museum’s records that Tom wrote this book. He’s done a phenomenal job of researching every aspect of this park.”

Gerhardt used information from the manuscript to produce a 26-page book that was distributed to those who attended the dedication.

Glen Park is a 12-acre tract with mineral springs that run in a stream through the park to Portage Lake. It is located on the west end of the Village of Onekama on Fourth Street, just north of Main.

Gerhardt spent two years gathering the information that led to the historical designation. He is also secretary of the Onekama Village and Township Community Parks and Recreation Committee. In addition to the parks committee, also involved in the project was the village, township and school officials.

In 1880, A.W. Farr bought the land and the primary attraction was the mineral springs, believed to have healing powers. This lured many visitors to the area, arriving by boat and train. It soon became a mineral springs resort and is considered the first bona fide resort in Manistee County. The Glen House had a short life, however, as it was destroyed by fire only six years after it was built, in 1892.

The parkland was donated to the township in 1961 by Farr’s nephew, Newton Farr, for continued and future use by the public. The springs still run today, originating in wellhouses that were reconstructed in 1976.


Posted by Dave Yarnell

Dave was formerly the News Advocate features writer and retired in November 2013.

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