History

Our family tree has roots planted deeply in the fertile soil of Old Mission Peninsula. Our founding fathers were born and bred here and have come back home after seeing that the bright lights of the big city can’t shake a stick at the spotlight of the North Star on Grand Traverse Bay. It’s a story worth remembering — and retelling around the fire.

 

Built in the 1880s and remodeled in the 1920s as a summer retreat for Chicago lumber baron J.W. Stickney and his wife Genevive, Bowers Harbor Inn Estate sits peacefully along West Grand Traverse Bay amidst the majestic oaks and pines of Old Mission Peninsula.

 

After years as one of the Midwest's most respected fine dining destinations, Bowers Harbor Inn was purchased in 2006 by Jon Carlson and Greg Lobdell, two natives of Old Mission Peninsula. It is the goal of Jon and Greg to renovate and preserve the Inn as a historic site and award-winning restaurant. From the outset, their intention was to protect the Inn, and after years of hard work, the estate is now preserved in perpetuity! To achieve this, the Carlson and Lobdell Families worked closely with the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy and the Michigan Historic Preservation Network to donate the development rights on the property, and placed a conservation easement that protects the historic, scenic and shoreline characteristics of the property.

 

Peninsula Township Supervisor Rob Manigold commented on the landowners’ decision to protect the Bowers Harbor Inn property: “I think we owe the Carlson and Lobdell families a lot of gratitude for their efforts to preserve this important historic landmark, not only for the residents of Peninsula Township, but for the residents of the region.”

 

Nancy Finegood, Executive Director of the Michigan Historic Preservation Network, reflected on the significance of the Bowers Harbor Inn site: “The buildings are very important to the historic integrity of the whole peninsula. It’s very unique because of all of the original farmsteads, its charm, its history, and the water. It’s a wonderful resource within the State. We are losing so many historically significant properties and it’s important that we protect what we have.”

 

Since taking over stewardship of the Inn in 2006, Carlson and Lobdell have renovated and retooled every aspect of the property:

  • Northern United Brewing Company now calls The Bowers Harbor Inn property its home. The new distillery is housed behind the historic Inn.  
  • The former Bowery restaurant was completely renovated to become The Jolly Pumpkin Restaurant, Microbrewery & Distillery 
  • The new Peninsula Room event facility was constructed as the perfect location for weddings and all private events 
  • Saving the best for last, the former Bowers Harbor Inn Restaurant was remodeled and is now home to Mission Table Restaurant & Tasting Room 

 

Civilized Spirits are created in our secret forest hideaway on the Old Mission Peninsula.  The site has a long tradition of distillation!  Spirits have been made on the site since the late 1800's when it was built by lumber baron J.W. Stickney and his wife Genevive. Civilized continues the long-standing tradition and we are proud to continue that legacy and bring it to you.

 

Civilized Spirits — a family of liquors created for the woodland gentleman of yore; the sort of man who cut wood for a living and wrestled grizzlies for fun,
but still found time to wax his mustache and comb some pomade through
his hair. Although the grizzlies may be gone, the dedication and appreciation of artisanal spirits lives on in every Civilized Spirit we hand-bottle.