Belle Isle; Statues & Monuments

27 Sep

LD weekend 419

Belle Isle is often referred to as the Crown Jewel of Detroit’s public park system, I say it is a jewel with many facets. Originally settled by French colonists in the 18th century, Detroit city fathers purchased the island in 1879 for $200,000 from the Campau family. There is the very public side of the island; the Scott Fountain, Casino, Dossin Great Lakes Museum, Conservatory, Giant Slide, and the picnic pavilions. There are also a number of areas and things that go unexplored by the average visitor. Our goal today was to drive around the island pointing out things you may not have noticed or even knew they existed; to take a walk through the nature of the island, and to share some of the 5 magnificent miles of scenic shoreline. Belle Isle provides spectacular views of the Detroit skyline, Canada, the Ambassador Bridge and a steady stream of freighter traffic.

LD weekend 445

LD weekend 429

LD weekend 479

LD weekend 467

LD weekend 487

Statues pay tribute to important figures in business, music and literature. Johann Frederick Von Schiller who wrote “Ode to Joy” is perched upon a pedestal, book in hand, peacefully gazing at nature. A white marble bust of Dante Alighieri, Father of Italian literature stands tall and serious. James Brady founder of the Old Newsboys Goodfellow Fund holds a small child near to him. A single soldier stands at attention representing the Civil War Grand Army of of the Republic. Quite impressive is the tribute to Samuel Francis Smith, author of “America”; Art Deco in style, eagles sit perched at each corner, a flag pole reaches up toward the sky as Old Glory waves in the air.You have probably seen the large statue of a man on a horse; Major General Alpheus Sharkey Williams, the detail is exquisite. One of my favorites is “Partners”, a newsboy and his dog.

LD weekend 474

LD weekend 436

ld1

The island is full of beautiful things; a bridge near the Casino building is just gorgeous. The sides of the bridge are incredibly ornate wrought iron bent into loops and curlicues now painted bright turquoise. The fancy carved stone columns at the ends let us know that it was built by the King Bridge Company in 1893. In another area, situated further back from the roadway rests the Nancy Brown Peace Carillon; this neo-gothic tower was designed by Clarence E Day. Stunning in design and detail, it was dedicated in 1940 to the newspaper columnist who raised most of the building fund from her readers. Today the fenced in area surrounding it looks forgotten, tall grass and weeds grow freely, still, the sound of cast bronze bells continue to ring out and delight all of those who hear it. The William Livingstone Memorial Lighthouse is the only all marble lighthouse in the US; located at the east end of the island it is owned by the city of Detroit. There is a path that will lead you out to it, it’s a bit of a walk, but I can assure you it is worth the effort. Designed by Albert Kahn and built in the Art Deco style it is a thing of beauty. Made of White Georgia Marble and topped off with a bronze lantern room, the light is visible up to 15 miles away on Lake St. Clair. They actually extended the eastern tip of the island 1/4 mile into the river back in 1929 just so they could build the lighthouse on this spot.

LD weekend 514

LD weekend 503

LD weekend 508

The north east end of the island is quiet and secluded, nature has reclaimed much of this area. If you are the adventurous type there are pathways and nature trails that lead you past the Blue Heron Lagoon and over to the shoreline, at one point you get a spectacular view of the open waterway leading out to Lake St Clair. Earlier in the year people from Cherry Creek and Sleeping Bear wineries proposed putting in a vineyard in this area and using the Casino building as a tasting room and sales area, we’ll see what happens…… 

LD weekend 517

LD weekend 524

We drove into downtown for lunch at Wah- Hoo on Shelby, we lucked out with easy on-street parking. The restaurant specializes in Chinese food and Sushi, they also have a great lunch menu, and serve cocktails. Located in the Murphy Telegraph building we entered through the Shelby door; the interior is warm and welcoming painted in a deep orange with varnished wood wainscoting, dining tables and chairs, the bar area is topped off with glass block. We sat by a window overlooking the street, the financial district is always bustling with activity. Though the Chinese section of the menu was filled with mouth-watering dishes we were in the mood for Sushi. Service was quick, which was good because we were very hungry, the Sushi was delicious, the fried tofu was attractively stacked on the plate and served with a nice ginger sauce, it tasted as good as it looked!

LD weekend 527

LD weekend 529

The Guardian building is just a short walk down Congress to Griswold; our destination Stella Cafe, is located on the street level off the lobby. This tiny cafe has a cozy feel to it; the walls are painted black, the plank floor is light in color. Tall wooden shelves with multiple cubbies hold items for sale such as coffee beans, olive oil, old fashioned candy and jam. In addition to coffee drinks and baked goods they also serve soup, salads, and made to order sandwiches. Seating in the cafe is limited, but you are welcome to eat on the promenade level. There was an open table so we had our coffee and pecan pie square right there. A perfect ending to our afternoon of adventure.

 

 

4 Responses to “Belle Isle; Statues & Monuments”

  1. ClueHunter22 July 26, 2016 at 6:28 pm #

    Is there a comprehensive list of all of the statues here, somewhere? I’m on an online search for a particular statue which ought to be on Belle Isle or quite nearby in Detroit. A list of all of the statues would sure be helpful.

    Regards,

    • detroitdvotion July 27, 2016 at 5:35 pm #

      Can you tell the name of the statue you are interested in? Maybe we can help you out with that.

      • ClueHunter22 July 28, 2016 at 9:04 pm #

        Hello again, I don’t know the proper name, only that a rather elderly person referred to it as “the Farmer”. I’m pretty sure that if it exists in the modern day, it pretty much has to be on Belle Isle or on the bridge approach to Belle Isle, and that probably anyone who saw it would think, “hey, that’s a statue of a farmer”.

        Hopefully it actually exists. 🙂

      • detroitdvotion July 29, 2016 at 12:12 am #

        We’ll keep an eye out and let you know what we find!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: