Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Country Inns: Union Pier

Nestled on Lake Michigan's shores, the Inn at Union Pier extends a warm Scandinavian-style welcome.

When it opened as a summer resort in the1920's, the Inn at Union Pier (then known as Karonsky's Hotel) offered visitors to Lake Michigan's shores a dining hall, cubicle-size sleeping quarters, and an outdoor shower. Over the years the property fell into sad neglect until rescued by an energetic couple in 1983. It was resurrected as Union Pier's first bed-and-breakfast.

Today, guests are drawn to the inn for various reasons: the artful renovation, the uncluttered Scandinavian-style interiors, the lake shore activities, and the warmth and hospitality of current innkeepers Joyce Erickson and Mark Pitts, who purchased the property three years ago.

The Inn at Union Pier also boasts another unusual highlight ... one of the largest collections of working Swedish ceramic fireplaces -- or kakelugnar -- in the country.

Decked for Enjoyment

The exterior of the inn's original building, known as the Pier House, features expansive double decks embellished with latticework and an attic dormer. The decks provide most rooms with access to the outdoors; some with views of the lake. The inn was in sad disrepair until purchased in 1983; three years ago, the property was bought by current inkeepers Joyce Erickson and Mark Pitts.

Kakelugnar Warmth

Guests are drawn to the inn for its artful renovation, uncluttered Scandinavian country style, and lakeside setting. The inn boasts the largest collection of functioning antique Swedish ceramic fireplaces, or kakelugnar, in America. One of these distinctive stoves is pictured here in Madeleine's Room (named in honor of the previous owner). Natural wicker furnishings offer casual comfort; the Scandinavian sleigh bed provides a restful night's slumber.

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