On the north end of Townline Road between U.S. 31 and Little Traverse Bay is the former hotel and dance hall of Zack White.
Zack White was a band leader in the early 1900s and friend of Duke Ellington and Louie Armstrong. Both of these greats are reputed to have performed at Zack's grand hilltop hotel.
In fact, Duke Ellington's sister lived in Bay Shore and commuted to Petoskey where she worked as a domestic helper. That's the reason Duke came to the little town and moseyed over to Zack's place to perform. He also joined in and jammed with local bands a few doors away at the Shintangle. Long-time residents of Bay Shore recall that Louis Armstrong played at Zack White's, too. A few of the Bay Shore locals remember, as young girls, climbing the hill to peek through the windows and watch famous performers including Armstrong and Ellington at the Zack White.
Bay Shore, which started as the Indian settlement of 'Bashoo,' meaning 'nearby,' is unique to Northern Michigan in its ethnic diversity and the citizens' tolerance of one another's differences. The town is largely made up of families that have lived there since the turn of the 20th century and in the case of some Native American families, long before that.
James Vol Hartwell is owner of the Red Fox Inn Bookstore in Horton Bay, which has been part of his Fox family for 103 years. He is a Northern Michigan history aficionado. Three of his "Lost and Forgotten Northern Michigan" books are available at his store and excerpts from his writings will appear here each month.
Zack White's dance hall on the Knoll
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