Suttons Bay is a charming village located on the western shore of Leelanau County. Surrounded by vineyards, orchards, and farms, Suttons Bay’s unique charm reflects these surroundings.
In 1854 Harry C. Sutton settled in the area with a crew of woodsmen and soon began supplying fuel to the passing wood-burning steamboats. In January of 1866 it was written that “a new village has also sprung into existence near the head of Sutton’s Bay, which in honor of Mr. H. C. Suttonâ€¦ has been christened Suttonsburgâ€¦ The site of the village is a pleasant one, gradually rising from the bay and extending westward over an even, fertile piece of land.” The name Suttonsburg was soon changed into Sutton’s Bay. In 1876 Lars Bahle opened a drygoods and clothing store. The store has been run by the same family for over 125 years and is now known as Bahle’s Department Store. In 1903 the Manistee and Northeastern Railroad reached Northport with a stop in Suttons Bay. The railroad connected Northport to Traverse City and brought much trade and many settlers to the area. Sutton’s Bay soon became recognized as the trade center of a considerable agricultural district.
Today Suttons Bay’s history can be seen in many of the historic buildings. In 1920 the Bay Theater building was built with wood from the Elmer Peterson Sawmill, at that time it was home to Hansens Brother’s Hardware, which included a blacksmith. The building next turned into a livery business and Suttons Bay’s Fire Department. In 1946 it was transformed into a movie theater and today is the historic The Bay Theater. Although the area’s fruit production began with orchards, today vineyards are very common around Suttons Bay. Many of The Leelanau Peninsula Vintners Association wineries can be found in the surrounding areas.