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Legs Inn

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c. 1921, Stanislaw Smolak; 1930–1966 additions. 6425 Lake Shore Dr., Cross Village

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.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Kathryn Bishop Eckert
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Citation

Kathryn Bishop Eckert, "Legs Inn", [Harbor Springs, Michigan], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/MI-01-EM19.

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Michigan

Buildings of Michigan, Kathryn Bishop Eckert. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2012, 413-413.

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