History of the Grand Traverse Civic Center (per The County of Grand Traverse website)
The site formerly called the fairgrounds was purchased by Grand Traverse County from Howard and Isabelle Whiting on May 1, 1912 for $10,000. Its use was primarily for the Northwestern Michigan Fair. In 1962, it was considered advisable, by some, to sell the property for private use. However, public reaction was so great in opposition to this, that the idea was dropped. The property was used by the Fair Association and rentals for events such as Mexican dances, trailer conclaves (Tin Can Tourists), teenage dances, Scout-o-rama, Little League baseball, kennel shows, community bazaars and other community events. In spite of these worthwhile projects, it was felt that better use could be made of this valuable property, and the firm of Johnson, Johnson and Roy were engaged to make a study of the property for recreational use.
On November 8, 1967, a resolution was adopted by the Board of Supervisors to change the name County Fairgrounds to Grand Traverse Civic Center. On March 20, 1969, an agreement was signed with the Paul Easling Memorial Fund Committee for the construction of the Easling Memorial Swimming Pool. The year 1973 ended with the holding of the Northwest Michigan Fair at this location.
The master plan as presented by Johnson, Johnson and Roy consisted of illuminated athletic fields, parking areas, access and egress away from the main flow of traffic on East Front Street, picnic sites, with the eventual addition of a conference center and an exhibit park.
In 1989, the County Board of Commissioners authorized the building of the Howe Arena next to the Easling Pool. It was financed through a bond issue of $80,000 by the County Building Authority. A local group of hockey and ice-skating enthusiasts, ICE (Involved Citizens Enterprises), donated $200,000 and Rotary Charities contributed a matching grant of $200,000. Opening ceremonies took place in September of 1989.
This and other interesting facts can be found at http://www.co.grand-traverse.mi.us/Welcome/history_of_grand_traverse_county.htm
Have you ever wondered where the names of the Boardman River or the Boardman Lake or the street Boardman, where the governmental center is located, came from? This area of downtown Traverse City commemorates the name of a 27 year old captain of a ship that sailed out of what is currently known as Naperville, Illinois.
Capt. Harry Boardman purchased around 200 acres that surrounds what we call the Boardman River area where it flows into the West Arm of the Grand Traverse Bay. Boardman built a sawmill and left his son to run the facility. It never reached production to the point that Capt. Harry had hoped with the legend claiming when Capt. Harry made it back after one of his sails he found his son and workers in a game of Euchre! This is the unofficial card game of Michigan. Boardman ended up selling the sawmill to the Hannah Lay and Company who built lumber into the primary industry in the Grand Traverse region until the early 1900s.
In the downtown of Traverse City there stands a hotel. Before we were alive it was a home known by many in the midwest as the Campbell House. The Campbell House was purchased by visionary Perry Hannah, in 1878, renovated and renamed the Park Place Hotel. In an effort to preserve this quaint history of Traverse City heritage, an ordinance has been written so no building may be erected taller than the Park Place Hotel between the bay and it. This explains why many taller buildings are elsewhere and not found in downtown Traverse City.
This topic comes into question when developers propose a bid on buildings and structures to preserve the character of downtown Traverse City. The idea is to maintain the view when you look out of the Top of the Park or out of the Beacon Lounge over the West Arm of the Grand Traverse Bay. If you have ever been there you can really appreciate the beauty each season has from those seats!