Wenona #1437, Bay City

The Wenona #1437 chapter of Bay City was formed in January 2005. The chapter began with 9 members, 4 of whom are still active in the chapter, and membership has been as high as 23. The chapter name Wenona has long been associated with Bay City’s history. In 1864 Messers Sage and McGraw from Ithaca, N.Y. purchased 116 acres on the west side of the Saginaw River to erect a sawmill. The village was called Wenona, named for the Indian Princess in Longfellow’s poem “Hiawatha.” Wenona means first born. The village’s growth was rapid. In just four years, there were 1200 inhabitants and all the conveniences of city life. The village is now Bay City’s West Side.

The Wenonah Hotel and Park, on the east side river front, was famous in its day (1908-1978) and considered the most luxurious hotel north of Detroit. Sadly, the Wenonah Hotel was destroyed by fire in 1978, but a treasured artwork, a large mosaic panel of Princess Wenona, was salvaged from the hotel lobby floor. This mosaic panel in now on display at the Bay County Historical Museum.  Wenonah Park still thrives on our river front. Also very popular in its day was the casino at Wenonah Beach Amusement park on the beach of the Saginaw Bay. Note both spellings Wenona and Wenonah are correct.