The first red bench was placed in 1982 and was built by Solomon Francis,
a well-known Ottawa Indian.
The bench was rebuilt in 2010 by Solomon’s grandson, Don Stoll, one of a few Ottawa Indians remaining in the area. Although much of the bench was lost to the ravages of time, several of the boards from the original bench were lovingly crafted into the 2010 bench.
The property and the bluff affording the magnificent views of Lake Michigan are owned by the Gratopp family, who arranged for the rebuilding of the bench. Their home sits directly below the bluff on the property that once served as the original Solomon’s Garden.
To maintain the views of the lake for all to enjoy, the tree are trimmed periodically. The lone tall tree, a white birch, has intentionally been left untouched so the property is identifiable from Lake Michigan.
The original bench was placed by the Sutherland family, whose home is located directly behind the bench. Although the Sutherlands no longer occupy the residence, the compiled a few short stories from guests at the bench over the decades.
The intent is to compile a second volume of “At The Red Bench” for those who express interest or simply to provide a forum to share the magic of the Red Bench.
Enjoy our bench and view, leave nothing behind but footprints.