When Stafford purchased the Bay View Inn in April of 1961, he wanted to promote this new ownership with many physical changes. He wanted to display not only to the returning guests, but also to the general public that a new energy would be present at the Bay View Inn and that all were welcome.
His first change was to completely redo the lobby area, changing it from a rather somber look to one of glowing sunshine and comfort. New wallpaper and paint, new drapes, and fresh flowers would indicate to guests that indeed, a new spirit had taken over the management of the INN.
Next, it was also important to let the public, especially those who drove by the Inn, to know that exciting changes were coming. In the past, most guests were extended stay summer customers attending the activities of the Bay View Association. It was necessary for Stafford to extend the customer base to all summer visitors, thus an impressive new highway sign.
Stafford’s brother Paul was a professional interior designer in Petoskey who helped Stafford with the redesign of the lobby. He then turned his attention to create the new sign for the Inn.
The Key Shape was somewhat copied from a fraternity key. But the lettering for the sign, which some called “the sign with the backwards n’s.” was Paul’s creation.
The sign was build over the original poles that held a neon sign which was broken. So the sign was a “quick” fix. Contractor Truman Cummings Jr., of Woodland Builders of Harbor Springs, who was working on Paul’s house, built the sign out of marine plywood. It was painted with a cream background, green lettering and gold trim.
[Most of the framework of that sign was still here until the wind storm and fallen tree took it out in July of 2020]
In the mid-1960s, Ronald B. Hay was a guest of the Inn. Ron was a commercial artist who once worked in the design department of Willy’s Overland Motor Company. In the mid-1930s, he took a similar position with the Cadillac Motor Company and created the scroll Cadillac logo, which is still in use today.
Ron convinced Stafford that he needed an updated sign and he would design it for him. Ron did this design work on the old barter system, staying at the Inn while he supervised the building of the new sign, even hand cutting the new letters and applying them with gold leaf.
He even painted the sign, which became a truly outstanding landmark in the area. His ribbon design influenced the present logo of Stafford’s Hospitality.
The sign was destroyed July 18, 2020 when a straight-line wind storm plowed through Petoskey. The large tree next to the Inn broke, thus falling on the beloved piece of history. Members of our team tried to salvage what they could, but there was nothing left. Beginning in August of 2020, we hired Pro-Image Design of Petoskey to assist us with designing a new sign.
After months of finalizing the details and maintaining the history behind the original design, the sign was installed on January 20, 2021.
Of course, we had to put a small-time capsule inside, and had three generations of Stafford Smith’s sign a metal plaque, along with our ownership, some current Bay View Inn employees and those who assisted with the design process.