In 1886, John Wesly Howard built the Woodland Avenue House in the fast-growing Methodist summer community of Bay View. The vibrant summer hotel was then renamed The Howard House in 1888. At that time, weekly rates averaged $4.50 for room and board. The property expanded throughout the years and assumed a number of different owners and names including The Roselawn.

The Inn was renamed once again in 1935 with the title it proudly displays today, the Bay View Inn.

Stafford C. Smith first visited the Inn with his aunt in the summer of 1957 for brunch. He returned each summer through 1960 and worked a variety of positions for the Inn’s proprietor, Dr. Roy Heath. The summer of 1960 was special for Stafford as it was that summer that he met and fell in love with his wife, Janice Johnson, who had been hired to host in the dining room.

Stafford and Janice began their life together and the following winter his Inn experience landed him a promising career at the Perry Hotel in Petoskey as their new assistant manager. Stafford and Janice were planning a June 17, 1961 wedding, but the Perry Hotel was sold only four months after Stafford had begun his new position.

Out of a job and with a marriage on the horizon, Stafford formulated a plan. Knowing that the Bay View Inn was recently put up for sale, he made his move. That spring Stafford and Janice became innkeepers. Stafford’s Bay View Inn remains today the oldest summer hotel north of Grand Rapids, Michigan.