Art, comfort welcome visitors to the Terrace Inn
By Sue G. Collins
Photos by Adrian Boyer, Sue G. Collins and G. Randall Goss
A small handsome painting by renowned artist Greg Sobran hangs unframed outside room 208 at the Terrace Inn in historic Bay View. It is one of more than a dozen by the artist who occasionally lived at the inn 30 years ago in exchange for a small collection of his paintings of nearby Victorian cottages, historic Bay View buildings and expansive porches dripping with gingerbread.
“I painted many houses in Bay View at the time, so it was fitting to decorate the inn with images of the surrounding houses,” Sobran said from his Glen Arbor studio. “I did many commissions for the cottage owners as well, and would occasionally have little art shows at the inn.”
These rather rare early works by Sobran are watercolors, though the stylistic unity and the artist’s signature style are immediately recognizable, as is the artist’s love of the visual splendor of the scene.
The Terrace Inn has amassed an impressive collection of more than 300 works of art by Michigan artists who have stayed at the inn, many of whom return year after year and consider the owners, Patty Rasmussen and Mo Rave, family.
Turning to one large moody acrylic of thick evergreens, Patty remembers the artist. “She stayed with us all through her battle with cancer. So many of these artists are now dear friends and keep in touch as their careers bloom,” she said.
Finding a brighter painting of a wide green meadow dotted with shadows, Patty pauses and smiles. She remembers another artist who stayed one summer, finding refuge, carving out quiet creative time from her busy life managing a son’s relentless mental illness.
The inn is graced with work by Michigan artists Rose Bradley, Beverly Brandt, Kathleen W. O’Connell, Sue Craig, Jack Giguere, Susan Fernholz, Noel Skiba, Sally Wetzel, Karen Vandam Michmerhuizen and others who found inspiration from the summer landscape, cottage architecture and abundant mature perennial gardens in Bay View.
Strolling through the long airy hallways of the three-story Craftsman-style building, Patty pauses to straighten a frame, fluff a chintz pillow and smooth a white chenille bedspread. The décor is soft and eclectic, a reflection of the 423 Victorian cottages that line Bay View’s terraced streets climbing up from Little Traverse Bay. First opened in 1911, the Terrace Inn was constructed on the heels of the more fanciful Victorian era, when most of the summer community’s cottages were built. A wide hemlock-paneled staircase leads to guest rooms on the second and third floors, with weighty beams, wide windows and squared newel posts punctuating the space. The original maple floors and hemlock were locally harvested, says Mo Rave, who lovingly oversees the ongoing maintenance needs of the property and is an outgoing host.
The Rasmussens follow in the footsteps of other owners who have painstakingly renovated the inn, updating amenities but never changing the important features that earned it historical designation from the Michigan Historical Commission.
“The dining room offered a full menu with ‘hot things very hot, and cold things very cold.’ Although the interior saw some alterations to meet the changing needs of guests, the Terrace Inn retains its historic character,” the commission notes in its marker mounted on one of the inn’s two shady porches. The inn’s first owners billed it as Bay View’s “newest and most modern hotel” with the dining room offering a full menu with “hot things very hot, and cold things very cold.”
Chef Zak Ryan returns to the kitchen for his sixth season and has created a varied menu to appeal to the urban dwellers who visit Bay View for a taste of a quieter, more gentle time.
The dining room is a large bright space with gleaming maple floors, simple furnishings and more local art, extending the innkeepers’ dedication to its artist friends. Meals are served in the dining room or out on the wide porch, a perch overlooking Fairview Park and the cottages below.
An ice cream parlor once lured residents and guests, though was converted to a pet-friendly garden apartment in 1996. The guest rooms each have a distinct personality, while they all have en suite bathrooms and modern hotel amenities. Patty fell in love with plush 100 percent cotton chenille bedspreads from the Vermont Country Store and finds coverlets and duvets from high-end brands like Garnet Hill to complete each room individually. Small antique writing desks, thoughtful lighting, vintage dressers from Albert Pick, more local art and framed vintage blessings and poems give guests a warm welcome. Patty often rearranges the rooms, picking pieces from one room, moving them to another. Many of the guest rooms received fresh paint over the winter with a new softer palette reflecting the hues of Lake Michigan and a summer shore.
Patty chose perky stripes, cotton-candy blankets and fresh white bedding for the antique beds, some dating back to the inn’s founding days.
All the different pieces come together seamlessly, like a quilt made with love to inspire sweet dreams.
1549 Glendale Ave., Bay View
Written By By Sue G. Collins, photos by Adrian Boyer, Sue G Collins and G. Randall Goss