Traverse City Record-Eagle

December 2, 2012

Books and Travel in Brief: 12/02/2012


---- —

Hamtramck tales

HAMTRAMCK — A newspaper editor and amateur historian has written the tale of one Detroit enclave's transformation from a small farming village to a major industrial center in the span of a decade.

Birmingham Eccentric editor Greg Kowalski's "The Immigrants' Tale" charts the overhaul of Hamtramck in the early 20th century due to an influx of immigrants. The historically Polish community that's home to part of General Motors' Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant is now extremely diverse, with immigrants from the Middle East, Africa and Bangladesh passing by a statue of Pope John Paul II.

Kowalski is also chairman of the Hamtramck Historical Commission and has written five history books related to the city and its larger neighbor.

Mackinac hotel

MACKINAC ISLAND — A new hotel is under construction on Mackinac Island.

Bicycle Street Inn & Suites is the first new hotel construction project on Mackinac Island in more than a decade. Located on Main Street in the center of downtown, it will feature 36 guest rooms including 30 suites in varying sizes, up to 700 square feet. Most suites have walkout balconies with views.

A central skylit atrium is a focal point of the first-floor lobby, where shops will offer an assortment of food, candy and other goods in a retail court. A healthy eatery, 21 Speed Grill & Greens, and Sanders Candy will serve as anchors for the Shoppes at Bicycle Street Inn & Suites.

Grand opening is slated for May 2013. The inn is currently booking group tours for next year, with information on regular rates and reservations to be announced. For more details on group tours, call 906-847-8005 or visit

Visitor center

MAMMOTH CAVE, Ky. — Mammoth Cave National Park has completed its visitor center renovation and exhibit installation.

The park says Phase I cost $6 million, provided from park fees, and included demolition of the administrative building to make way for a large lobby, information desk, ticket sales and restrooms.

Phase II was $10.4 million and was paid for through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The rest of the old building was stripped down, then rebuilt for exhibits, office space and book sales.

The work was done under Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design guidelines, with officials hoping the finished project will receive gold-level certification as a sustainable, "green" building.

'Changing Keys'

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. — A new exhibition at Colonial Williamsburg is showcasing the historic area's collection of antique musical instruments.

Officials say the "Changing Keys: Keyboard Instruments for America" exhibit recently opened at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum. It features more than two dozen keyboard instruments from the period between 1700 and 1830, including harpsichords, spinets, pianos and a chamber organ. More than half of the instruments are being exhibited for the first time.

Exhibition curator John Watson says the instruments were an integral part of the culture of Virginia's colonial and post-colonial period. Officials say the second-known public performance on a piano in America took place at the Raleigh Tavern in Williamsburg.

The exhibit that also explores the ways the instruments changed over time will be on display through 2014.