Petoskey, MI

After Zooming wih our Sunday School class, we left Manistee just before noon on August 15. Acey’s mileage 76,225.6 and Thor has 90,933 miles. We arrived at the Petoskey RV park in Bay Harbor, Michigan at 4pm. Our drive included a recovery mission. Jim has frequently noticed that the front wheel of his bike keeps loosening by itself- so he always checks to be sure it’s tight before we ride and when he puts it on the bike rack. We got just past “downtown” Charlevoix and a guy motioned to us – and told us the wheel fell off one of the bikes in town, before the bridge – so we knew who’s wheel THAT was – we pulled into a neighborhood and stopped in front of a house – Linda rang the bell and asked the homeowner if we could park there for a few minutes while we disconnect the Jeep and go into town to find the bike wheel that fell off… Fortunately he was OK with that! So we retraced our route with Thor and found the runaway wheel resting up on a lamp post! 😊 It was undamaged and good to go! Glad it didn’t happen earlier when who knows where it may have gone!  We have a nice site at this RV park and have full hookups.

Linda’s friend Nancy (we have known each other since 4th grade!) lives in nearby Charleoix. She joined us for the evening and it was fun to catch up!

Monday we met up with Nancy for a picnic lunch and to do a walking tour to see the Mushroom Houses in Charlevoix. This website had a good description: “Built by a homegrown self-taught architect named Earl Young, these earthy dwellings are truly unique. They feature boulders from Lake Michigan, other natural resources from the local area, unexpected details like colored mortar and rounded shapes, hidden entrances, glass windows shipped from a faraway castle, and more.” (Much of the descriptions of the homes is taken from a booklet* published by the Charlevoix Historical Society) This Half house was built in 1947; Linda’s photo cut off the top of the roof and chimney – ooops!

The “Thatch House” was the first house Earl Young built; 1919-1921. It was remodeled in late 2014-2015 and looks quite different from the original design.

Betide” was built in 1943, during WWII. The front door is perpendicular to the road.

Built “in 1938, ‘Abide‘ shows how his imagination is begining to loosen up in the wavy lines of wood trim and shingle placement, and the rounded lines of window framing.” The chimney looks frosted – like a gingerbread house!

“Construction began on the official ‘Mushroom House‘ in the early 1950s and was completed in 1954. Earl Young designed the house to resemble what he imagined as a huge button mushroom. Some of the walls are 3 feet thick!” It also sports a frosted chimney.

101 Grant Street was built around 1954-1955…Its Onaway stonework flows from the south elevation around the corner beneath the low extended eave …

and up to Park Avenue without a break.”

The Pines “was constructed in 1886-1887. Earl young bought it in 1944… and remodeled the facade with the stone facing and recessed porch in 1961.”

We walked down by the shore where the Lower channel connects Round Lake to Lake Michigan.

Here’s Nancy with her moyen poodle Jack at the Charlevoix South Pierhead Light.

The FIRST Charlevoix Light, a boxed lantern atop a scaffold. went up at the end of the south pier in 1880. A lighthouse, made of wood and painted white, was installed on the north pier in 1885. It was moved to the south pier in 1911 and painted red. This lighthouse was replaced by the current metal structure in 1948. The black lantern at the top housing and the lens is from the original 1885 light. The light was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005.

We walked from the light house to the lower channel toward the drawbridge. Charlevoix is a rather small town and the drawbridge goes up every 30 minutes – so it can hold up traffic! And the ONE traffic light is closeby,

Charlevoix certainly IS beautiful!

The downtown area had several shops and places to eat. We liked this sign!

Then we walked back to the car and Nancy led us on driving tour to see more mushroom houses and commercial establishments also designed by Earl Young. (Again, the descriptions of the homes are taken from a booklet* published by the Charlevoix Historical Society) The M. “Sucher” House “William Sucher, head of the Speedway 79 gasoline company, commissioned Earl Young to build this house in 1948. It was completed in 1950, at 2300 square feet the largest residence he ever constructed. The stone fencing along Park Avenue was done by two Danish-American stonemasons hired by Sucher in 1951.”

The stonework on the house, chimney and walls was really impressive

The Red Sandstone House “Earl Young obtained the red sandstone that faces this house, built in 1954, from a reconstruction of one of the locks at Sault Saint Marie in the Upper Peninsula. The color comes from the rich concentration of iron oxides in the earth around the St. Mary’s River.”

The Panama House “Built in 1926-27, this house became the summer residence of Norman Panama, one of Hollywoood’s leading producers, writers and directors (“Mr Blandings Builds His Dream House,” “White Christmas”).

The Green Mortar House, built in 1927-28 has an “unseen front doorat an angle to the road, hidden within the sheltered porch on the right, a motif repeated in 1943 in ‘Betide'”.

Chalet House “was built in 1929, influenced by typical Alpine architecture, distinguished by the oriel window above”.

White Mortar House “was completed in 1926 in the American Thatch Style with underslung eaves.”

Even the mailboxes had a lot of unique character!

Pagoda House “Completed between 1929 and 1930, the pyramidal ‘Pagoda’ house shows an Oriental influence in the roof corners. Its Gothic window terminates in a slightly off-center keystone.”

Boulder Manor was very interesting – we liked the big crane in the front window! This one seemed worthy of 3 photos to share!

“Earl Young began ‘Boulder Manor’ in 1928. He had the stone walls finished plus the upper floor roughed in by late 1929. But the Great depression hit in October and Earl lost the house to the bank. He did not regain possession until 1937. The house, one of his most astonishing creations, was finished in the early 1940s.”

LOTS of boulders in and at Boulder Manor!

Owl House, “1930-31, is nicknamed after the two large front windows that resemble the vigilant, unblinking eyes of a wise old bird.”

Red Mortar House “constructed late 1925 into 1926…Its distinctive touch is the large stones embedded in the stucco of the north and west gables.”

This must have been the back of one of the homes – look at the size of the stones and boulders!

We parted ways for a bit and then came back to Nancy’s for dinner. She made ham and cheesy potatoes, we got her a “Death by Chocolate” cake – her birthday is at the end of August, so we celebrated early! Jan and her mom came for dinner as well and brought a brocoli salad. Jan is also an elementary school chum, so of course we knew her Mom Archie as well.

Jack wanted to be in the picture too!

None of us got photos of the food – except for the cake!

Tuesday morning we went for a bike ride on the Little Traverse Wheelway. We could access the trail right across the highway from the RV park!

We rode 12 miles and got several views of Little Traverse Bay as we rode.

Another beuatiful day in Michigan!

After our ride, we went back to Acey for lunch and showers – then headed over to Nancy’s place. Today we hoped to see a couple more mushroom houses and commercial establishments also designed by Earl Young. As we left her neighborhood, we saw the Applecore Cottage that is considered a Mushroom House, but it was designed and built by Earl Young’s daughter Virginia.

Orignally known as the Weathervane Lodge Motel, Hotel Earl was built in 1958-59 by Earl and some other investors.

The Weathervane Inn and Dining Room Fireplace we could only see from the outside; the dining room was closed.

The sign is supported by a few large boulders – Jack approves!

Earl loved those boulders!

A view of the Inn from across the channel that Linda found on the web – The Weathervane Terrace Motel sits up the hill behind the Inn.

“Earl Young constructed his masterpiece, the Weathervane Inn, between August, 1953 and July, 1954. He discovered the 9-ton dining room capstone while digging a road in Boulder Park in 1928. To his imaginantion, its pattern resembeld the highway system of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. Earl reburied the stone and left it in the ground for 26 years before he knew what he would be able to do with it!” Thanks to a web search, Linda found a photo of the fireplace with its huge boulders!

“The Weathervane Terrace Motel was begun on 1961, but due to financial delays did not open until late 1964. Two magnificent fireplaces embelish the main lobby and Harbor Room (breakfast and activities area). The beveled windows of the lobby were made in Poland in 1897. Earl’s love of boulder patterns is evident in the streetside retaining wall.”

The entrance to the lobby…

There were beveled windows in the lobby that Earl ordered from an estate in Poland. They were made in 1897.

The fireplace in the lobby was a real work of art! It’s like a mural of the nearby sights.

Thee was a poster describing Earl’s vision

This fireplace in the breakfast room is made of Onaway stone – quarried near Onaway, Michigan. During the constuction of the hotel, the fireplace sat exposed to the elements for two years.

Earl’s love of the castle style architecture is evident in the turret topped stone towers that enclose the circular metal staircases that go to the second floor of the hotel.

The last mushroom houses to see were on Thistle Downs Lane – we could only see the back of these homes as they face the water. The A-Frame house was built in 1967.

We later walked down by the lake and found we COULD see the front of the house!

This house was also on Thistle Downs Lane – and had the “mushroom style” roof, but we were not sure if this was the “Castle House” It also has some nice stonework.

What a beautiful setting for this home!

There was a fancy retaining wall along Thistle Down Lane. If you want to see more about the Mushroom Houses look here!

Wednesday we packed up a lunch and drove to Magnus Park to ride to Petoskey on the Little Traverse Wheelway. There were lots of shady places along the way. We rode 20 miles!

Later we went to a secluded beach to look for Petoskey stones.

Petoskey stones are said to be found on the beaches in the area between Traverse City and Petoskey. According to Wikipedia, “They are fragments of a coral reef that was originally deposited during the Devonian period. When dry, the stone resembles ordinary limestone but when wet or polished using lapidary techniques, the distinctive mottled pattern of the six-sided coral fossils emerges…In 1965, it was named the state stone of Michigan.”

We found some Petoskey stones and some other colorful stones as well.

With all the rocks, the big lake and beautiful skies we have seen, makes me think of the hymn This Is My Father’s World

This is my Father's world, and to my listening ears 
All nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres. 
This is my Father's world, 
I rest me in the thought 
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas, 
His hand the wonders wrought. 
We enjoyed our stay here and are off to the Upper Penninsula on Thursday for more adventures! 


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* A Guide to the Earl Young Structures in Charlevoix , the Beautiful (available for purchase from The Harsha House Museum at 103 State Street) Published by the Charlevoix Historical Society


7 thoughts on “Petoskey, MI”

  1. What an amazing ‘portfolio’ of houses Earl Young designed in Charlevoix. Really like the fireplaces too. Glad Jim got some resolution on his wheel deal. Keep on touring.

    1. I did not include ALL the houses we saw – some not as interesting as others or hard to see the house for the trees! It was fun to see the creativity he used in designing those homes!

  2. It was fun spending some time with you guys!! And I saw stuff I hadn’t seen before 😀 Jack had fun meeting you too – even if he had to give up his seat in the van – such a rough life for a dog 🐾🐾 He misses all the good neck and back scratches!!

    1. I’m so glad we could spend some time with you – and Jack! You know we’ll be back – our home state of Michigan is amazing and we have so many more things to see and do!

  3. Looks like you are having a wonderful time on the road tour. Your pictures really tell the story of your adventure. Amazing architectural homes and design. Lake Michigan is a beautiful place. Am enjoying your blog.

    1. We have seen so many interesting things – rode our bikes on many awesome bike trails – its been an amazing 16 months and we suppose we will be on the road for a while yet! Hope we can see you next time we are nearby😀

  4. Great pictures! We have done self-guided tours of the Mushroom Houses many times in Charlevoix but we have not made it down Thistle Lane yet. So I was delighted to see you share some pictures from there! Also, great job finding some Petoskey stones. Did you know you can sand and polish those easily by hand? They make pretty cool souvenirs.

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