Michigan's Small Town Treasures: The Loop Museum, a Country Doctor’s Home

by Julie Royce /
Julie Royce's picture
May 18, 2009 / 0 comments

Port Sanilac, Michigan

The Loop Museum, a Country Doctor’s Home

The Sanilac County Historical Society Museum and Village and Loop Harrison House are a must stop during any Michigan Thumb meandering.  Consider scheduling your visit to coincide with the Arts and Crafts Fair held on the Museum grounds the last full weekend in July (25th and 26th) and maybe catch a production in the Barn Theatre, also on the grounds. 

The Loop Harrison Mansion, built in 1872, was home to Bark Shanty’s (early name of Port Sanilac) first physician. It displays many of Dr. Loop’s original furnishings as well as some of his medical instruments.  Its twenty rooms have also become the repository for shipwreck relics and historical artifacts from the Great Fires that raged through Michigan’s Thumb.

Loop Harrison House and Museum


It is said the ghost of Ada Loop Harrison walks the property and haunts the house where she grew up. The daughter of the town’s only physician guaranteed Ada a life of privilege. There are many reports of unusual activity in the house and many stories to explain it. An interesting account has the hapless woman run over by one of the original Tin Lizzies, her lifeblood seeping into the soil of what is now M-25. Not even a physician’s skills could save her. Although you may feel Ada bump into you or experience an unusual draft on a hot summer day, she means no harm.


Loop Harrison House and Museum

The museum grounds have become home to many historic buildings and thus saved a bit of Michigan’s past from extinction. You can explore a Carriage Barn (displaying wagons and buggies, a horse-drawn hearse, and farm machinery), a Dairy Museum (with vintage milking machines), Platt’s General Store (currently sells local artwork, books on local history and candy), Banner Log Cabin (authentically furnished in pieces specific to the era), and Huckins Schoolhouse (an 1800s school building typical of many of the country’s early one room schools).  One of the most impressive additions to the village is the recent acquisition of the Forestville United Church of Christ which was originally built as a general store in downtown Forestville. It then spent several years as a saloon before gaining a steeple and shunning its prior ways to become a community church around 1911. It ministered to various religious denominations for nearly a century until the last shrinking congregation left it with no community to serve. It was moved to the museum grounds where it joined the growing village and safeguards yet another piece of the area’s heritage.


Loop Harrison House and Museum

While visiting Port Sanilac check out some interesting historical buildings: the Raymond House Inn, the Raymond Hardware (Michigan’s oldest continuously operating hardware), the Town Hall (where there will likely be a bake sale and rummage sale the last Saturday in July), and the Port Sanilac Lighthouse (not open to the public but a great photo op) on Lake Street. And, of course, you can’t leave any lakeshore town without strolling the harbor.

Uri’s Landing, overlooking the harbor, is the place to enjoy Whitefish or Lake Perch. The Stone Lodge is a local favorite, especially on Karaoke night, the Van Camp House provides an opportunity for fine dining and the chef prides himself on using only the freshest ingredients, many locally grown or raised, and Mary’s Diner draws a substantial breakfast crowd to its small-town-diner atmosphere.

A few miles south of Port Sanilac is Gallery 890 (890 South Lakeshore) where you can peruse exquisite pottery, glass, jewelry, sculpture, tile works, mosaic mirrors and gift items created by forty artists. It’s worth the short drive.


All photos courtesy and copyright of Cathi Bulone Campbell, Sanilac County
Historical Society. All rights reserved.



Julie Albrecht Royce, Michigan Editor, is the author of Traveling Michigan's Sunset Coast and Traveling Michigan's Thumb, both published by Thunder Bay Press. She writes a bi-weekly column (monthly in winter) for wanderingeducators.com, entitled Michigan's Small Town Treasures.



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