Bay View was founded in 1875 by Michigan Methodists as a camp meeting “for intellectual and scientific culture and the promotion of the cause of religion and morality.” At its organizational meeting, officers were elected and Articles of Association were adopted under a general law of the State of Michigan. The pastor of the Methodist Church in Petoskey served as the first liaison agent for the committee.
Although conceived by Methodist clergy and laity, promoted by the joint Michigan Methodist conferences, and often sustained at critical moments by Methodist congregations, Bay View has been ecumenical in management and life. From its beginning, we have welcomed persons of any denominational affiliation who have a desire to assist in perpetuating the Association’s principles and purpose.
Begun as a retreat for revival meetings and spiritual refreshment, within the first decade, Bay View expressed its “Methodist concern” for intellectual enlightenment and cultural growth. As a result, by the late 1880’s the Bay View Assembly became a pioneering institution in public education with an ambitious summer university, a Chautauqua series attracting tens of thousands of visitors, and a homestudy program enrolling men and women across the nation. During the same period, the raw territory, where the early “tent city” was built, was transformed into a resort community of such Victorian charm that it has been designated as a National Historic Landmark.
Throughout its history, Bay View has consistently retained and continued to follow closely the principles of spiritual growth and cultural advancement initiated and steadfastly practiced by its Methodist founders.