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

Year: 1891

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

Year: 1885

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

Year: 1930s

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

Year: 1930

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

Year: 1909

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

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