Historic Sites Tours kicks off. 

May 9, 2018

Historic Sites Tours kicks off. 

MANISTEE — The Manistee Historic Sites tour was officially launched Tuesday with a media event held at the Ramsdell Regional Center for the Arts.

Spearheaded by the Manistee County Visitors Bureau with close collaboration from the Manistee County Historical Museum, the Manistee Historic Sites Tours is the county’s most comprehensive tourism project in history, showcasing more than 100 historic sites through eight themed tours. Supported by a $50,000 grant from United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development and $70,000 from the visitors bureau, the bureau created the self-guided routes with accompanying guide book, map and mobile app with links to videos and images on visitmanisteecounty.com.

SEAL Team” TV show actor Toni Trucks, who is from Manistee, provided the voice-overs for more than 20 videos narrating Manistee’s most prominent historic sites.

“Today is the culmination of a project that dates back to 2011 when it was just a kernel of an idea,” said Kathryn Kenny, executive director of the visitors bureau. “When we looked at Manistee’s brand assets, our rich history is one of the primary draws for visitors. Yet many of our most treasured buildings are private homes and businesses. This new Manistee Historic Sites Tour gives people an inside glimpse through videos and photos of these fascinating historic treasures.”

Xavier Verna, executive director of the Ramsdell Regional Center for the Arts, welcomed the audience to the event and explained the significance of the Ramsdell for Toni Trucks, who got her acting start there at age 7.

Kenny described the project and how it was possible because of partnerships. Also speaking was Mark Fedder, executive director of the Manistee County Historical Museum, who identified and cataloged the 100 sites on the tour. On a personal note, he went to Manistee High School with Toni Trucks and introduced her. Toni Trucks was the final speaker, sharing what it meant for her to do this project and her hopes for the tour and Manistee.

“I am so thrilled to provide the audio narration of the Manistee Historic Sites Tours,” said Trucks, who came to Manistee this week specifically to dedicate the tours. “It feels like my hometown love has come full circle. Growing up in Manistee, I was completely enamored by the elaborate Victorian architecture that dominates the area. Manistee is flush with beautiful buildings with the breathtaking Michigan shoreline as a backdrop – and it has a rich, complex history to match.  It is such an incredible honor to help educate people further on this jewel that I proudly call home.”

Eight Themed Tours Tell Manistee’s History

The Manistee County Visitors Bureau officially began the Historic Tours project in 2014 and then applied for and was awarded a $50,000 grant from USDA Rural Development – the highest level awarded in its annual grant cycle. The bureau partnered with the Manistee County Historical Museum, who identified more than 100 sites across the county with historic significance for the tours and organized them into the eight themed tours, with fifteen of the sites on the National Register of Historic Places (including more than 50 sites in one designation – Downtown Manistee) and 20 are on the list of Michigan State Historic Sites. The 25 most prominent sites feature an accompanying video voiced-over by Toni Trucks, with other sites visually represented through photos. Following are the tours:


“Manistee may be the first county in Michigan to showcase its historic assets to this level of depth and detail,” said Mark Fedder, executive director of the Manistee County Historical Museum. “It’s important to document these buildings not just from a tourism angle, but from an historic preservation angle as well. When you see these residences, churches and buildings, you discover their beauty and craftsmanship and learn how Manistee residents used to live and work. And they may not always be here – if something happens, we will have them documented.”

In addition to collaborating with the Manistee County Historical Museum, the visitors bureau worked with a number of individuals and agencies to create the Manistee County Historic Sites Tours, including Brandon Jensen, owner and creative director of RightSide Design in Manistee, who wrote the USDA grant on behalf of the bureau and designed the website, mobile app, map and printed guide book; MyNorth Media in Traverse City who wrote the video scripts; and Kris Riley with Kris Riley Productions who produced the videos.