Tag Archives: pastimes

“Shed” a little light on this Civic Center Building’s History

This building sits on the grounds of the Grand Traverse County Civic Center. What do you suppose this building was used for before 1974? Are there any unique features to this building that might give us a hint?

After a bit of back-and-forth with our knowledgeable audience, we know one thing for sure… and we’ll just have to speculate on the rest. This building was indeed a structure in use during the Grand Traverse County Fair at one time, the predecessor to the Northwest Michigan Fair. In the 1890s, what we now call the Civic Center was known as the “Driving Park.” Many sulky races were held here, then horse racing in general, followed by car racing and then the fairgrounds. This was a hopping spot!

Aerial image of the Civic Center, once known as the Driving Park. You can still see the racing track in this 1960s photograph, from the Al Barnes Collection at Traverse Area District Library Local History Collection.