Bay View draws seasonal residents and day visitors from all over the United States to its annual Assembly Program and associated Music Festival. The Music Festival is nationally renowned and currently recognized as the longest reigning music festival in the United States. Festival students represent most of the 50 states and a number of foreign countries.
Bay View is a seasonal community with residence limited to May through October. Many current cottage owners represent the third and forth generations of their families.
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. 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, Bay View has welcomed persons of any denominational affiliation who have a desire to assist in perpetuating the Association’s principles and purpose. 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. The resident bishop of the Michigan Area of The United Methodist Church is an ex-officio member of the Bay View Board of Trustees.
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."
In spite of the Assembly's long history, many northern Michigan residents are still unaware 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.
To be an institution in which Christian values and traditions are central; To enrich the human experience for individuals and families within Bay View and the surrounding community through a seasonal program of religious, educational, cultural and recreational opportunities; to provide a Christian perspective in a changing world.
The Bay View Association is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization.