Legs Inn, Polish restaraunt & folk art environment to behold

May 13, 2009 at 11:40 pm Leave a comment

OK, I am not known for grace and agility, and sometimes I get distracted when I am going too fast…and today proved to be a perfect storm of clutziness meets distraction.  As I was loading the rover with my gear, I sat my car key on the bumper.  Then decided to move my camera to the backseat for easy reach…  Not thinking, I shut the back gate.  Somehow the sweep of the door caught the key and slammed them in between the door and car, triggering the auto lock.  Bummer.  Need a key to unlock the door to get the key. 

After a call to AAA and a climb over art to get to the manual release, and all was well…until I slipped off of a step.  So, with a slight limp and caution aboundiing, the day finally began with a venture to Sea Shell City (pirate talk abounded) and the ultimate destination of Stanley Smolak’s Leg Inn.
Legs Inn—Stanley Smolak (1887-1972)
Folk Art Environment and Polish Restaurant
Created: late 1920s – 1972
6425 N. Lake Shore Drive
Cross Village, MI
231-526-2218
Legs Inn is tucked away on the shorelines of Lake Michigan and could be one of the best kept folk art secrets out there. Immigrating from Poland to Michigan in 1921, Stanley Smolak’s visionary sculptures from roots and driftwood puts you in mind of the work of Jesse Aaron, but with a Native American spirit.
(the following info is excerpted from the Legs Inn website🙂
The twisted and tormented forms of trees, roots and driftwood collected by Smolak from the surrounding area, along with the stones washed smooth and round by Lake Michigan’s waters, aroused the artist in him – and from them he created this unusual building, fixtures and furniture. He once said: “Nature is the greatest sculptor – I am only helping to make the artistic objects more visible to the ordinary eye.”
In the late 1920’s, Stanley Smolak began building this extraordinary complex. He first constructed the curio shop with its Indian handiwork, souvenirs and living quarters. Then came the large tavern with its expansive balcony, and finally the dining room with its scenic bay windows overlooking Lake Michigan. Four great stone fireplaces throughout the building add more charm.

Stanley Smolak died in November 1968, proceeded by the death of his wife, Eleanor, only 6 months earlier. Stanley’s brother, John (Jan) Smolak, an accomplished musician who immigrated to the United States in 1963, ran the business until his death in 1972. John is still remembered for entertaining guests of Legs Inn with his beautiful violin music.

The actual name, Legs Inn, is derived from the row of inverted stove legs that Stanley used to make the decorative railing on the roof of the building.

George Smolak (Stanley’s nephew, John’s youngest son) and his wife Kathy have operated Legs Inn since 1987. Their sons Mark and Christopher also assist with the operation of the Inn. The Smolaks are credited with obtaining State of Michigan historical status for Legs Inn in 1989


Wood-burned fish illustrations found on some of the table tops

Entrance to the dining room.

The cross was Stanley’s last completed piece of art.

Note the designed cut wood doors.  No nails were used, only pegs.

Back row: Mark Smolak, current owner, (and our guide) George Smolak, Chris Smolak, Kathy Smolak, & Mike Murphy.  Front row: Don Mayberger and Randy Mason.

Detail of the exterior wall

Gnarled wood front door

The Rare Visions pirates at Sea Shell City

Downtown Mackinac City, Michigan

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Entry filed under: cross village, folk art environment, legs inn, michigan, native american, polish, restaurant, stanley smolak.

Tom Moran’s Northern Michigan Masterpieces Heading home…the longest bridge in the western hemisphere & miniature golf diner

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