Traverse City's historic sites offer a surprising mix of structures, from recognizable spots like the City Opera House and the former Traverse City State Hospital to less obvious but notable buildings such as the state's oldest synagogue in continuous use and an art deco service station. And it's not just buildings that make the list. Traverse City boasts two bridges and a bay that have been named to historic registers.
Here's a sampling of some of the city's registered historic sites:
n City Opera House
Location: 106 E. Front St.
Style: Late Victorian
History: Vaudeville shows, concerts and balls took place in the downtown opera house, restored in recent years and now host of the Traverse City Film Festival, National Writers Series, and numerous dance and musical performances.
Registry: National Register of Historic Places in 1972, State Register of Historic Sites in 1971
n Traverse City State Hospital
Location: West 11th Street
Style: Late Victorian
Year: Opened in 1885
History: The impressive, spired Building 50 stretches across a wide lawn, tucked away from main city streets. Here, mental health patients received treatment and worked on the farm. Now, redevelopers are transforming the former hospital into shops, residences and restaurants while preserving the distinctive brickwork and campus ambience.
Registry: National Register in 1978, state Register in 1985
n Congregation Beth El
Location: 311 Beth El Way, off Washington Street
Style: Frame building with gable roof ends and spindle work
History: Traverse City's early Jewish settlers founded this synagogue on land donated by the city's founding father, Perry Hannah. The congregation still meets here, in the small building tucked feet from the imposing district court.
Registry: State Register in 1975
n Randy's Olde Towne Service
Location: 501 S. Union St.
Style: Art deco
History: This green-tiled service station sits prominently at the Eighth Street intersection, with deco touches accenting its door. Anthemion, anyone? You can spot the decorative architectural flourish above the entryway.
Registry: State Register in 1987
n American Legion Memorial Bridge
Location: South Cass Street bridge
History: The arched bridge, designed by Indiana bridge builder Daniel Luten, has changed from its original appearance. But the graceful concrete curve still spans the Boardman River.
Registry: National Register in 2000
n Ladies Library building
Location: 216 Cass St.
Style: A hint of Beaux Arts Classicism
History: Eight local women launched the Ladies Library Association in 1869. Covered in ivy, this attractive brick building's cornerstone was installed in 1909. It housed a library until 1949 and now holds a law office.
Registry: State Register in 1986
-- Source: Michigan State Historic Preservation Office and on the Web at http://www.mcgi.state.mi.us/hso.