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February 2015

Lake Michigan's Southern Riviera™

Folk Art and Fascinators

Lakeside Sparkles with Artful and Antique Gems

By Julie Kessler

Sure, there are lots of enchanting little shops in Lakeside, Michigan, but have you given a tip of the hat to the Wilkinson family, which arrived in the 1850s and really got things going? We thought perhaps not. You’re excused: No one knows why the town of Wilkinson was renamed Lakeside, in 1874. How rude.

Never mind: The Wilkinson name – and history – lives on. Wilkinson Trading Post is back to its original location and is Lakeside’s post office again. Appropriate, says well-known and just-retired Realtor Nadra Kissman, since her great-great granddad John Wesley Wilkinson was the first postmaster. Nadra and Al Kissman have restored the site, so now you can go to the Wilkinson Heritage Museum and peruse photos, Civil War letters, and more.

Old Meets New

Right next door: It’s A Breeze, a jolly little gift shop boasting diamond pave and Miguel Ases jewelry -- we like! Not a mile away is another name we like: fab Abigail Heche, jewelry designer extraordinaire and yes, sister of fab actress Anne Heche. Abigail’s closed for the season, but serious buyers can jot down the number on the door and request an appointment.

For quirky it’s Frecklefarm, where co-owners Marge Ericksen and Jean Wilson are all about seasonal. Selections range from folk art to fascinators -- those whimsical, astonishing hats like Fergie’s girls wore to cousin Prince William’s wedding.

We’re agog at the shops in this tiny village, from tchotchke to treasure. Charm Cottage has been a cozy antiques shop from – wait for it – 1928! Alan Palmer snags objets trouves and Bill Lindblom restores them, enough for three buildings, but we insist it’s still cozy.

Everyone knows of Lovell & Whyte, but we have to gush a little. Interior accents, home furnishings, books, gifts – browse and buy at the main store, then nip across the highway to their sale shop to score a conversation piece.

Lakeside Antiques is huge – look for lots of European and Americana items. We saw an enormous lacquered tray, crystal ware, and a big bear rug. Can you say “eclectic”?

Ringing up these Red Arrow Highway and Lakeside Street shops for hours is always wise.

Savories and Sweets

Now we’re famished. Tiny Blue Plate Café satisfies our craving for a Ma-and-Pa-type diner. The pace is leisurely here, so Sunday brunch is as relaxed as it should be.

We know you meant to get that roast ready, but darn we’re busy. Thank heaven made-from-scratch delish meals are dished up by Miriam Kastil and son Douglas at Sweet William. Check the chalkboard or Facebook for the week’s menu and nosh there, or pick up smoked brisket, braises, salmon, lobster pot pie, fruit pies, coffeecakes. It’s a catering biz, too, so invite as many people as you can stand.

Artful and Restful

Impress them with artwork from Burnison Galleries, where Tom Burnison features 10 artists each month during the season. You’ll find scads of prints and frames, and may chance upon one of those architectural artifacts from Chicago that are all the rage. Tom, bless him, holds charity events in the spacious, angled rooms.

Inspired? Lillstreet Art Center offers workshops at landmark Lakeside Inn, rustic and peaceful now that Al Capone and his Roaring ‘20s peeps no longer rollick there. The “Buh-bye” to his pals and Prohibition is long ago, right? So these days it’s also perfectly okay to visit nearby vineyards for Michigan’s fine wines.   

For pure romance, White Rabbit Inn’s A.J. Boggio says the bed and breakfast has “a one hundred percent success rate when it comes to popping the ol' question."

Goodness. Lakeside, it’s an “I do” from us.

Abigail Heche Jewels
14866 Red Arrow Hwy.
(708) 359-9204

Burnison Galleries Inc.
15460 Red Arrow Hwy.
(269) 469-1141

Blue Plate Café
15288 Red Arrow Hwy.
(269) 469-2370

Charm Cottage
14906 Red Arrow Hwy.
(269) 469-4100

14913 Lakeside Rd.
(269) 469-9772

It’s A Breeze LTD
15300 Red Arrow Hwy.
(269) 469-6671

Lakeside Antiques
14876 Red Arrow Hwy.
(269) 469-7717

Lakeside Inn
15251 Lakeshore Rd.
(269) 469-0600

Lovell & Whyte
14950 Lakeside Rd.
(269) 469-5900

Sweet William
14939 Lakeside Rd.
Lakeside, MI
(269) 469-8222

White Rabbit Inn
14634 Red Arrow Hwy
(800) 967-2224

Wilkinson Heritage Museum
15300 Red Arrow Hwy.
(269) 469-2090

Julie Dean Kessler is a freelance writer who has received 35 awards in journalism including the Mark Twain Award for Excellence in Editorial Writing from the Associated Press. She also holds a master’s degree in social work, writes poetry, and tends an extensive deck garden.