Irish Hills Towers
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Irish Hills Towers
Location within the state of Michigan
|Location||8433 West U.S. Route 12, Cambridge Township, Michigan|
|NRHP Reference #||07000380|
|Added to NRHP||May 2, 2007|
The Irish Hills Towers are two wooden observation towers located at 8433 West U.S. Route 12 in Cambridge Township, Lenawee County, Michigan in the Irish Hills region. They were added to the National Register of Historic Places on May 2, 2007.
In the early 1920s, the Michigan Observation Company sought places of high elevation to erect 50-foot-high (15 m) enclosed platforms to boost tourism. In southern Michigan, a tower was placed atop Bundy Hill in Hillsdale County and officials sought a knoll in the heart of the Irish Hills in Lenawee County. A farmer who owned half of the knoll, Edward Kelly, turned down the company's offer to purchase his portion of the land. The adjoining land owner, Thomas Brighton consented to the sale of his plat, and construction of the Irish Hills Observatory commenced.
The opening of the Irish Hills Observatory was announced by The Brooklyn Exponent in September 1924. In a gala celebration on October 4 and October 5, hundreds of people ascended the hill and tower to gaze upon the rolling landscape and crystal blue lakes in all directions. Kelly seemed spited by the exploitation of the MOCs venture, and protested by erecting his own tower. By the end of November, 1924, his own observation platform was in place, just feet away from the MOCs structure, and several feet higher.
The Michigan Observation Company responded by adding a second observation enclosure to the top of its own facilities, now designated as the Original Irish Hills Tower. Kelly proceeded to add a raised platform to his "Gray" tower (named as such because of its gray-painted exterior), an act which brought the two edifices to an even height. The MOC informed Kelly that if he attempted to compete with more height given to his tower, they would tear down their own and construct a metal observatory so large that Kelly's efforts would be nullified. He conceded, and turned his efforts instead to drawing more revenue to his creation.
The Irish Hills Towers operated as separate and competitive entities through the 1950s, when Frank Lamping acquired both and connected them with a gift shop at the ground floor. They briefly closed in the late 1960s, and refurbished in 1972 by Allen Good. They were given new observation platforms and as a result attained a near identical look.
The Irish Hills Towers closed to the public at the end the summer of 2000.