Over a lifetime, Stanislaw Smolak (1887–1968) built his tavern, curio shop, and living quarters of local fieldstone and natural and fabricated found objects. From Kamionka, Poland, Smolak went to Detroit in 1912 and worked in the auto factories before moving in 1921 to northern Michigan. Here his friendship with the Ottawa earned him the name Chief White Cloud. Smolak's tavern earned the name Legs Inn for the rows of inverted cast-iron stove legs that form the building's roofline parapet, only one distinctive feature of one of Michigan's most noteworthy examples of idiosyncratic architecture. The entire building and furnishings reveal Smolak's desire to fill his time making use of discarded stuff. Tree limbs, logs, roots, stumps, and driftwood are hand carved and crafted into the most fantastical animals and grotesques, birds and snake sculptures, and furniture borrowed from native Woodland Indian and European traditions. They lend a mood of terror, even the sublime, to this structure at a remote outpost in northwestern Lower Michigan. The place abounds with flags, totem poles, and stuffed moose, deer heads, and other wildlife. Smolak's late brother and his nephew have upgraded the restaurant and gardens.
You are here
If SAH Archipedia has been useful to you, please consider supporting it.
SAH Archipedia tells the story of the United States through its buildings, landscapes, and cities. This freely available resource empowers the public with authoritative knowledge that deepens their understanding and appreciation of the built environment. But the Society of Architectural Historians, which created SAH Archipedia with University of Virginia Press, needs your support to maintain the high-caliber research, writing, photography, cartography, editing, design, and programming that make SAH Archipedia a trusted online resource available to all who value the history of place, heritage tourism, and learning.