Throw Back Thursday – Before and after





Tony Nichols shared the above photos as well as an eight-page speech given to the Lenawee County Historical Society by Emma Sihler on April 24, 1975, at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Cambridge Junction show the Tower Inn and Ark complex before and after the renovations

In a speech to the Lenawee Historical Society in 1975, Emma Sihler shared many memories. Following is part of her speech that I think our readers will enjoy. She later discussed Sand Lake’s history in depth, which I plan to share in the future.

“I feel fortunate that my memory of the northwest section of Lenawee County goes back fifty years and that I can recall the section known as the Irish Hills as it was before it became so commercialized.

It was in June of 1925 that my family left Fort Wayne, Indiana, and with my Aunt Lily Bowerfind took up residence for the summer in Shamrock Inn.

U.S. 12 was being paved that summer starting from the east end and I remember walking up the sandy road up to the twin towers, which had been erected the previous years. You all no doubt know the story of why two towers stood side by side. The story goes that the one to the east, which was called the original one, was built first by a group of investors who wanted to buy the entire hill on which the tower was to be built. Half of the hill belonged to Ed Kelly and he refused to sell. However, the first tower was built and when Mr. Kelly saw how profitable it was to let people walk up the many steps to the top where they could count twenty or thirty lakes, he [also] built a tower. However, he built his a few feet higher whereupon the original tower was also made higher. This could have gone on and on with one making their tower higher and then the other one, had the insurance companies put a stop to it.

It was an afternoon’s entertainment for my younger sisters and me to watch the monkeys which Ern Riley brought up from Florida and which were kept in a cage under the trees of an old apple orchard. In 1926 our family bought the Brighton homestead and started a restaurant and tourist home, called Tower Inn and the Ark, which we ran for 15 years.”


Phil Krauss shared several great. The Sihler family arrived in the Irish Hills in 1925 and in 1926 bought the Brighton homestead and started a restaurant and tourist home, called Tower Inn and the Ark, which they ran for 15 years (1926-1941). The above photos photos that we will be featuring in the coming weeks. The photos above and below show Cedar Hill at Hayes State Park, well before it was Hayes State Park. Judging from the cars, it was in the 1920’s, or even slightly earlier. The tents show that it was already a popular camping sight.

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