The Village of Honor has completed its Lakes to Land Community Master Plan.
From the Village of Honor Master Plan…
Honor was founded in November 1884 by E.T. Henry, foreman for the Guelph Patent Cask Company, and George Griggs of Wolverine in Cheboygan County, who returned the following spring with a crew of men and a small portable sawmill. The town was named for the baby daughter of J.A. Gifford, general manager of the Guelph Patent Cask Company. In 1895, the Pere Marquette railroad from the main line at Bendon and the Manistee & Northeastern (M. & N.E.) from Lake Ann brought horses, workmen, tools, and building material to this stand of virgin white pine.
By the fall of 1896, a $2500 schoolhouse was completed and church services commenced. The 600-resident village was made the county seat by popular vote in April 1908, and served as such until that designation moved to Beulah in 1916. The Seymour and Peck Company, successor to the Guelph Patent Cask Company, employed about 90 men year round manufacturing lumber and veneer. The Desmond Chemical Company Plant at Carter Siding converting cordwood into charcoal, alcohol, acetate, and other wood derivatives.
The veneer mill closed in 1917. World War I delayed the collapse of Honor’s logging era because the government needed long-timbered red elm, of little value in any normal use, to build its “Liberty Ships.” But when the war was over, the Pere Marquette pulled up its tracks and left, and the M. & N.E. followed in 1922.
In 1953, Honor saw the opening of the Cherry Bowl Drive-In Theater, now lovingly restored and one of the oldest continually operating drive-in theaters in America. Coho salmon, introduced in 1966 through the Platte River Fish Hatchery, draws thousands of hopeful fishers to the area. Honor held its first Coho Festival in 1968.
As fishing gave way to the increase of resort activities around the Platte Lakes, Honor became a center for providing basic supplies to the summer influx of residents and tourists. At the center of Benzie County, the village is the gateway to Michigan’s finest outdoor recreation. Sleeping Bear National Park and Crystal Mountain Resort are both minutes away.
Like many small towns, Honor has been in a state of decline since the 1980s, a bedroom community for those working in Traverse City or Manistee. But in 2011, the sleepy little town is waking up to find that it is a kind of time capsule. Pristine natural resources, an aging but historic downtown, and that kickin’ drive-in theater have been untouched by developers. It is a town that time forgot… and a place on the cusp of rediscovery.