Suttons Bay, Michigan

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Suttons Bay is a village in Leelanau County in the U.S. state of Michigan. The population was 589 at the 2000 census. The village was incorporated in 1898 and is located within Suttons Bay Township.

The community is named for one of the first settlers of European descent, Harry C. Sutton, who arrived in 1854. He arrived with a crew of woodsmen to supply fuel for passing wood steamboats.

In 1903 the Traverse City, Leelanau, and Manistique Railroad began a route between Traverse City to the South and Northport to the North, stopping at Suttons Bay, as well as Hatch's Crossing, Fountain Point, Bingham, Keswick, and Omena.[3]

Before the turn of the 20th century, four churches had been established—two Lutheran, one Catholic, and one Congregational.

In 1920, Leelanau County voters approved moving the county seat to Suttons Bay, but the move never took place.

Suttons Bay has a school; the sports mascot is a Viking, hence the nickname "Suttons Bay Norsemen."

The town is home to the county's only movie theater, opened in 1946. It is now owned by Bob Bahle, and was renovated in 1977. Its fare consists of unique art house films, and occasionally the theater hosts plays & concerts.

The town has a clothing store that has been owned by one family over four generations called "Bahles." The original store started as a "dry-goods" business in 1876 by Lars Bahle, an immigrant from Norway.

Anna Hawkins married Patrick Hawkins in 1943 and moved to the family farm located four miles south of town while Patrick served in the U.S. Army in Italy.

Activities in Suttons Bay include the Suttons Bay Jazzfest and the Suttons Bay Art Festival.

Suttons Bay is home to the Inland Seas Education Association, educating school age youth on the Great Lakes by use of the Inland Seas schoolship.

Suttons Bay also is highly embedded in the cherry industry, producing sweet and tart cherries of many varieties. Harvest operations usually take place in mid-July and run into August.



According to the United States Census Bureau, the village has a total area of 1.1 square miles (2.8 km²), all land. The town is located on the shore of Suttons Bay, an inlet of Lake Michigan, one of five lakes that comprise the Great Lakes. The town is fifteen miles north of Traverse City, along M-22.

Nearby is a sign marking the 45th parallel north, halfway between the North Pole and the Equator. This is one of six Michigan sites and 29 places in the U.S.A. where such signs are known to exist.[4].[5]


As of the census[1] of 2000, there were 589 people, 271 households, and 179 families residing in the village. The population density was 538.7 per square mile (208.6/km²). There were 374 housing units at an average density of 342.0/sq mi (132.5/km²). The racial makeup of the village was 96.94% White, 0.34% African American, 1.19% Native American, 0.34% Asian, 1.02% from other races, and 0.17% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.72% of the population.

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