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Thursday, March 21,2013

A state treasure

Grand Hotel’s resident historian speaks tonight

by Marisol Dorantes
The front porch of the Grand Hotel, the historic landmark\'s most famous feature. Photo by Bill Castanier

Thursday, March 21 — The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island is a National Historic Landmark, overlooking Lake Huron since its construction in 1887. Bob Tagatz, the hotel’s resident historian, will speak at 7 tonight at the Capital Area District Library’s downtown branch. He will guide Lansing listeners through some of the rich oral history of the Michigan treasure.

“An institution like this is a shadow of the people involved in it,” Tagatz said. “I believe that the preservation of the Grand Hotel lies in the understanding of its history.”

The Grand Hotel, which is family-run and –owned, has seen many a U.S. President walk down its halls and played a part in films, including the 1980 Christopher Reeve drama, “Somewhere in Time.” Tagatz, a specialist in the Victorian Era, will recount “the evolution and survival of the hotel through people’s stories.”

“We are more than lodging and pretty rooms in a pretty place,” he said. “We have a heart soul.”

Tagatz has worked as the hotel’s historian for 18 years. His talk will demonstrate the importance of preserving rare institutions like the Grand Hotel, which he describes as “real and honest.”

“I’m not a salesman,” said Tagatz. “I’m the romantic side of the hotel — I want you to have an understanding of what it’s really about.”

Bill Tagatz, Grand Hotel resident historian Historical Society of Greater Lansing speaker series 7 tonight Capital Area District Library — downtown branch 401 S. Capitol Ave. Lansing FREE cadl.org
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