• 26
    Apr
    Posted in:
    Belle Isle Pt. 2: Who Are These Historical Sites Named After?
    Featured image by Adam Meek via Flickr

    Two weeks ago, we took a trip back in time and talked about some of the historic sites on Belle Isle. However, there were two more destinations we wanted to share. What they have in common is that they’re both named after famous Detroiters. The stories of these people further add depth to the sites bearing their names.

    The next time you visit Belle Isle, you might even find yourself retelling these historic tales.

    Dossin Great Lakes Museum on Belle Isle

    One thing we briefly mentioned in Part 1 of this article was the Dossin Great Lakes Museum. It’s more than the home to Miss Pepsi, “the fastest hydroplane in the Detroit River in its time.” It’s also a monument to the Dossin family and their legacy.

    The Dossin Great Lakes Museum on Belle Isle

    The Dossin Great Lakes Museum on Belle Isle // Image by jodelli via Flickr


    In 1898, the Dossin family established a food distribution company that served the Metro Detroit area. The company experienced great success when they got a contract with Pepsi in Michigan and northern Ohio. And what did the Dossin brothers Russell, Walter, and Roy do with the extra income that came with this success? They got into speedboat racing in a big way.

    According to the Detroit Historical Society, boat racing was a popular hobby for entrepreneurs during that time. Because our city was also the automotive capitol of the world, the Dossins took advantage of the talented engineers and mechanics in their area and, in the late ‘40s, named a boat after the product that gave them their prosperity. Thus Miss Pepsi was born.

    Today, the Dossin Great Lakes Museum is home to Miss Pepsi as well as many educational exhibits dedication to sharing Detroit’s “rich maritime history” with museumgoers. And the best part of planning a visit is that the whole museum is free!

    Kids learn at Dossin

    “Play 60 Assembly – Dossin Elementary” // Image by A Healthier Michigan via Flickr


    The James Scott Memorial Fountain

    Scott Fountain is another monument to a famous Detroiter on Belle Isle, but the man being honored was considered fairly controversial. According to HistoricDetroit.org, there was a debate whether or not to erect the fountain in his honor.

    During his lifetime, James Scott was well known for being a man who was “a perpetual bachelor and frequently entertained women of ‘less moral fiber.’” He inherited a lot of money, and didn’t have to work very hard to maintain his wealth. When he died, he left funds to the city to build a monument in his honor. However, he also specified that if the city was to use his money, they had to include a life-sized statue of him.

    This aspect of the fountain held up city officials for a while, nearly derailing the entire project. Eventually they decided to build the fountain on Belle Isle in 1925.

    Scott Fountain on Belle Isle

    Scott Fountain viewed from afar // Image by Dave Hogg via Flickr


    The original basin of the fountain was inlaid with tiles from Detroit’s famous Pewabic Pottery. In the early 2000s, these tiles were destroyed, so the Belle Isle Conservancy is currently raising funds to restore the tiles to the fountain. In the summers, the newly restored water feature shoots plumes of water up into the sky and offers onlookers lightshows on warm evenings. To us, it’s the closest to Europe you can get in this wonderful city.

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