Bowers Harbor Inn
Haunted Dwelling: Bowers Harbor Inn
13512 Peninsula Drive,
Traverse City, Michigan 49686.
About half way up the 18 mile long Old Mission Peninsula which divides Grand Traverse Bay, The Bowers Harbor Inn can be found in a very beautiful, non-commercial spot, with a terrific view of the west side of Grand Traverse Bay, near an inlet with a nice beach and boat area.
On our 2007 road trip, Tom and I traveled south on HWY 31 from the upper Michigan Peninsula area, along northeastern Michigan. Hwy 72 merges into 31, and this road takes the traveler into the charming beach/vacation community of Traverse City. We then turned right onto Peninsula Drive, which travels north up the peninsula, a truly lovely ride with a view of west Transverse Bay on the left. We congratulated ourselves for not getting lost in this beach/vacation community this time, which is usually our habit; (Virginia Beach, Myrtle Beach, Corpus Christi being examples of that!)
DESCRIPTION and HISTORY:
The Bowers Inn is an expansive, two story blue mansion which sits up on a hill, back a little from the road, among some beautiful pine trees and landscaping.
The Bowers Inn, since 1959, was transformed into a high class dining restaurant which has an outdoor patio that is used during the summer months, with a view of the bay. The back yard is also beautifully landscaped, the perfect place for outdoor social events, including outdoor weddings and receptions.
Chicago Millionaire lumber and steel baron, J.W. Stickney and his wife, Genevieve, first discovered and fell in love with this beautiful spot during the time that J.W. Stickney was just building his businesses. This hard working couple bought an ordinary farm house and its fruit trees found then on this property. While Stickney was busy growing his lumber and steel endeavors, Genevieve put their produce to good use by making preserves, jams and brandies, getting quite a clientele among the locals, and developed a successful home business of her own.
When J.W. Stickney's enterprises took off, making them very wealthy indeed, J.W. and Genevieve tore down the farm house and built this glorious mansion in 1885 as a summer retreat residence, which has easy access to the lake, beach area nearby. J.W. Stickney spared no expense, creating the vacation home of their dreams, with all the bells and whistles included in 1885 mansions of the well-to-do and prosperous citizens, including high ceilings, the finest materials, lots of space and all the rooms found in a stately mansion, plus items which were important to them as people.
At some point, Genevieve had issues with her weight and was described as being very heavy-set and unable to go up the staircase. She had an elevator put in their mansion, and feeling insecure about her weight, bought a gilded mirror which made her look a lot thinner.
She was also jealous of other women and afraid that her husband would find someone more attractive. At one point she became so heavy and obese, that J.W. hired a nurse to take care of her.
After the Stickney's passed on, the Stickney Mansion passed through a series of owners. In 1959, Jim and Fern Bryant bought the mansion and turned the mansion into a restaurant, calling it The Bower's Harbor Inn. They sold it in 1964, to Toni Scharling, and Sally & Bruce Towner, who also lived upstairs with their families and ran the Bower's harbor Inn on the first floor.
In 1974, The Bowers Harbor Inn was bought by Schelde Enterprises, and simply ran it as a fine, award-winning restaurant with no one one living hanging out on the second floor, either during or after hours.
In 2006, two Old Mission natives bought The Bowers Harbor Inn, and continue to run a fine restaurant, while they restore and preserve the mansion as a historic place.
HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS:
At some point in time, Genevieve, who had also become jealous and possessive of her husband, needed a nurse because of her physical disabilities caused by her weight. Her husband, J. W., hired a nurse whom he eventually became romantically involved with. Genevieve didn't like her from the beginning, and worried that when he died, he would leave his fortune to this nurse. I suspect that she also had some mental problems as well, which developed in the later part of her life. She had changed dramatically in personality and behavior from her earlier self, it seems; becoming more paranoid and obsessing about her looks.
For once, her jealously was founded. After J.W. died, Genevieve had a rude shock at the reading of the will. Not only did J.W. leave his fortune to this nurse as she had feared, but she found out that the nurse had secretly become his mistress, which was deeply hurtful to her. Though she received the mansion and its land, she had been betrayed by her life partner, not only financially but on a personal level. The bum didn't even have the guts to tell her, but let her find out only after he had died. This elevated her mental problems and sent her spiraling into a deep depression. Eventually, she took her own life by hanging herself in the rafters of the mansion's elevator.
During the first half of the 20th century, the Stickney Mansion passed through a series of private owners who sooner or later realized that while they owned the mansion on paper, they had permanent unseen guests there with them; one gentile, slightly mischievous spirit and one rather obnoxious one with an attitude not exactly welcoming!
When Jim and Fern Bryant sold the mansion to Toni Scharling, and Sally & Bruce Towner, after just 5 years of ownership, they made a point of warning them that "strange things were going on."
Though they didn't pay much attention then, Toni Scharling, and Sally & Bruce Towner soon found out.
The entity of Genevieve gets her chuckles by scaring the living, since 1964.
Her mirror is a favorite way. In 1964, A patron of the restaurant was admiring her slimmed down figure in Genevieve's special gilded mirror, hanging in the small powder room, found just outside of the second floor bathroom, which was used by restaurant patrons. Suddenly, she saw a real looking woman in the reflection of the mirror, standing right behind her, who was dressed in a formal evening gown, with her hair up in an old fashioned bun. She turned around and the lady was gone, which scared the woman, causing her to fly down the stairs, straight to Toni!
Toni Scharling, and Sally & Bruce Towner and their families lived on the second floor. Uh oh!
They learned to duck quick when regular household objects would be hurled at them by an unseen force on a regular basis.
Doors would fly open and slam hard, all by themselves without help of a breeze or human hands.
The door to the ladies room on the second floor will slam shut by itself.
Other events throughout the years were/are more gentle and mischievous, perhaps pointing to the entity of J.C. Stickney, who likes to putter around the mansion, and gets his chuckles in different ways.
One evening, in the restaurant, patrons witnessed a full plate of food sitting on the salad bar fly up in the air and fall onto the floor.
On the second floor living quarters of the owners' families:
Personal items often would go missing and turn up in really odd places.
In the middle of the night, the living heard knockings coming from inside of closets and on walls and doors.
In the late 1970s, the basement lights kept coming on by themselves after they had been turned off by the restaurant manager. Perhaps J.C. was puttering about his business in the basement.
The elevator, when it was still working, would transport the living to the second floor. One surprised patron, who was using it to go to the second floor, was startled to be joined suddenly by a full, solid apparition of a very old J.C. Stickney, who also used the elevator in his later years.
Even when the elevator was closed down, it would still go up and down by itself without any help from electricity or pulley system!
Oh yes indeed!
The official web site tells the The story of the hauntings by the Stickney's, who are considered just part of the mansion.
From 1974 until the present, more of the same type of manifestations have been attributed to this stubborn couple, who have continued to keep a foot hold in this world, though Genevieve has mellowed a bit because no one lived on the second floor. She still slams the doors, and will be tempted to appear in the mirror if the living use it.
An entity, perhaps J.C. Stickney, likes to move the hands on the clock on the first floor forward 25 minutes in just 5 minutes. Also, inventory clipboards are moved to odd places, for someone's chuckles!
SOURCES INCLUDE: GHOST STORIES OF MICHIGAN, By Dan Asfar,
pages109-133, Ghost Stories of Michigan, 2002.
HAUNTED PLACES, The National Directory,
by Dennis William Hauck, pg. 230, Penguin Books, 2002.