Spires in the Outfield- A trip to Grand Traverse Commons

It’s a Saturday morning in April, and while it’s a beautiful sunny day here in northern Michigan. It is still early spring so it’s still not quite beach weather yet. If it were, I might grab a coffee and a book and head down to the bay for a little while. Instead, there’s an indoor farmer’s market at the commons that I have decided to check out.

If you’re not familiar with the commons, it is the area of town that was historically the grounds of the Traverse City State Hospital. You may hear it referred to as The Mercado, The Old State Hospital, Building 50, or more formally as The Village at Grand Traverse Commons. I’ve heard it referred to most (by locals) as The Commons.

When you’re driving north into Traverse City on US Route 31, (when you are near Meijers grocery store) if you look up you’ll see the red spires peeking out over the fields and above the treeline. Today,the tall pointed peaks stand out against the bright blue sky pointing the way. To get there, continue past the intersection at Fourteenth Street and turn left onto W. Eleventh street.

Red Spires at Grand Traverse Commons

Just past the State of Michigan Offices, go straight through the four way stop and up toward The Commons. You can go straight up to Building 50 and park around the circle drive, or you can turn left and go around back. I parked in the front and entered through this door to the center of the Mercado.

Front entrance to The Mercado at Grand Traverse Commons

Center Entrance off the Front Entrance

Back entrance to The Mercado

Back Entrance to the Left End of The Mercado Hallway

Around the back, you’ll find more parking as well as some other businesses that have established themselves in what appear to be the restored out-buildings from when the original hospital flourished. There are two entrances to the Mercado from here, one at each end, and these are more difficult to see especially if you don’t know where you’re going. The key is to look for the red signs. They are painted the same red color as the spires.

The Mercado is an indoor marketplace that now inhabits the restored lower level of the main building. Partly underground, with it’s pale yellow brick walls, it feels a little bit like a secret underground tunnel. But the sun shines in brightly through the windows and creates an ambiance that is warm and refreshing at the same time.

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Inside view of The Mercado at the Commons

As soon as my eyes adjusted to the lighting (after coming in from the bright sunshine), I was drawn to some fresh greens and couldn’t help but to stop for a photo.  Believe it or not, Continue reading

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The new Red Door in Lake Ann

Red Door Coffee House Lake Ann Michigan

Historically, a red door on the front of a building has meant many different things. From welcoming visitors to signifying status. A red door has even signified a safe house in the underground railroad in the time of the U.S. Civil War.

In my research, I found a site with a nice summary of the variety of meanings from over the years. According to American Red Door, in early American tradition, a red door became a symbol to weary horse and buggy travelers that a home was a safe place to rest.

Have you seen the new red door in downtown LA?

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In downtown Lake Ann.  In Michigan, that is.

And what this particular red door represents is a good cup of coffee and a cool place to hang out. (You’ll have to leave your horse and buggy outside though.) Right next to the Almira Township Hall, and across from the Lake Ann Post Office, you’ll find it.

You’ll begin to relax as soon as you pass through that red door.  The welcoming eclectic decor is highlighted by the corrugated steel ceiling original to the building (when it was the village fire house). The walls are covered with work by local artists that are available to purchase.  There are cozy sitting areas as well as dining tables. It would be a great place to bring your laptop and get some work done. All in all, The Red Door Coffee House is a good representation of the best of northern Michigan.

Red Door Coffee House Lake Ann Michigan

The business was opened in 2014 by long time Lake Ann residents and entrepreneurs, Gary and Lori Florip and their daughter and son-in-law, Greta and Travis Kemp. They also have an office on-site for their real estate business, Lakeview Realty.  So if you’re in the market for a new house, or looking for someone to manage your property, they can help you with that too. Continue reading