The first people of European ancestry arrived in the 19th century. Lumber was in great demand and the numerous waterways made Bellaire an excellent location for a lumber town. Many Civil War veterans settled here to farm land awarded to them for their services in the war.
In 1879, the residents of Antrim County voted to move the county offices from Elk Rapids to the more centrally located Bellaire, then named Keno. The hotly contested debate was eventually argued in front of the Michigan State Supreme Court. In the end, the court's decision supported the original vote of 574 to 446 to move the county seat. Shortly after the case was settled, the name Keno was changed to Bellaire.
By the early 20th century, Bellaire had grown to hold 4 grocery stores, 4 hardware stores, 3 hotels, 2 blacksmiths, an opera house, a bakery, a jeweler, 8 doctors, 6 lumber mills, 5 meat markets, and 7 barbershops. (Information courtesy of the Bellaire Area Historical Society.)
Though we don't offer 3 harness shops any longer, we do have a strong base of businesses throughout the village. Our Chamber of Commerce promotes the area tirelessly and Destination Bellaire is rapidly gaining recognition.
Thanks to a quirk of geography, the village is located in two townships; Forest Home and Kearney. The Intermediate River divides the two townships, with Kearney south and east of the river.
M-88, a state trunkline highway, winds through the village, giving tourists and commerce easy access to area businesses.
Our permanent population in the 2020 census was 1,036. Our summer population, however, increases dramatically through tourism and the abundance of vacation homes.