Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Irish Hills Towers

The Irish Hills Towers are an iconic image of the area.  Built in the 1920s these wooden towers have stood along US-12 for over nine decades.  The towers closed at the end of the 2000 season and have stood vacant since then.  Recently, the owner was told that they needed to demolish the towers or fix them.  With that in mind, I headed down the road to get some pictures before they were gone.

I'd passed through the area back in around 2000-2002 and was impressed with everything.  I always said I was going to go back there and spend a day going through them, but I kept putting it off.

In 2009, needing time to think and get away from things, I started driving through the Irish Hills regularly.  The Irish Hills had been a destination for people from Metro Detroit and beyond for decades and there were all sorts of roadside attractions.  By the time I passed through only 3 remained in operation and the lonely, abandoned attractions mirrored the way I felt at the time. 

Of those three, I was surprised two were in operation and at the end of last year, one of them closed for good.  Of the two, I've gone through them both.  One is like the Mystery Spot in St. Ignace and it looks pretty run down.  The other has mini-golf, an arcade, batting cages and other things and looks to be doing okay.  It looks well maintained and is open every time I drive past.

Although I arrived before the deadline, I was surprised to see that demolition had already begun.   I have to say that this saddened me. 

I'd always thought that someday I'd sneak in and snap some pictures, but the thought of getting caught and arrested deterred me.

Though the tops were coming off, the pigeons were still sticking it out.

I returned a couple of days later to find the tops missing.

A few days after that I returned again.  This time the construction equipment was gone and it looked like the demolition had been halted.

A woman in a car saw me taking pictures and stopped near me.  We got to talking and she indicated that she was the owner of the property.  The tops were taken off because they were in really bad shape.  A new roof is going on and they are trying to raise enough money to do a restoration.  They are hoping to get the mini-golf course back in operation and open the former gift shop as a museum.

On August 15th of this year the Township Board gave a 60 day extension to come up with a comprehensive plan for the future of the towers. 

If you're of a mind to, I encourage you to donate to the Irish Hills Historical Society to help in the preservation of the towers.  The towers, and the area itself, are signs of our past.  A time when things moved at a slower pace and things seem like they were simpler then, even if they weren't.  If this piece of Americana disappears, it will be gone forever. 

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