Bay View was founded in 1875 by Michigan Methodists as a camp meeting “for scientific and intellectual culture, and for the promotion of the Christian religion and morality.” At its organizational meeting, members elected officers and adopted the Articles of Association under the Summer Resort Act of 1889, a general law of the State of Michigan.
By the late 1880’s, the Bay View Assembly became a pioneering institution in public education with an ambitious summer university, a home study program enrolling men and women across the nation, and a Chautauqua series attracting tens of thousands of visitors. During the same period, Bay View developed into a community featuring Victorian cottages replacing the early “tent city”. In 1987 the National Park Service designated Bay View as a National Historic Landmark because it is... "one of the finest remaining examples of two uniquely American community forms, the Methodist camp meeting and the independent Chautauqua. Designed for the first purpose in 1876 as the country's only romantically planned campground, and adapted for the second from 1885 to 1915, Bay View constitutes an extraordinarily well executed ideal Victorian community which, because of its continuing corporate existence and the ongoing collective values of its membership, remains in an excellent state of preservation of both form and spirit. Bay View is a major example of American religious, cultural, social, and educational ideals embodied in an artistically shaped community plan."
With the Assembly's long history, many northern Michigan and midwestern residents are becoming aware that Bay View's outstanding musical programs, Sunday morning worship services, and weekday Religion and Life Lectures featuring nationally known speakers, are open to the public.