Charlevoix has been a Michigan and Midwest resort and vacation destination since the late 1870s, now known around the globe. The history of its hotels is the history of Charlevoix, including having, for over four decades, the second largest hotel in Michigan after the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, called simply The Inn. The first hotel in Charlevoix was established in 1867 from a converted boarding house constructed for dock workers around the end of the Civil War . By 1872 the little building, called the Fountain City House after a passenger steamer that called here often, had grown into the largest hotel between Traverse City and Mackinac, becoming well known around the Great Lakes. From there the parade of hotels began, culminating in the 1920s with almost three times the room rental capacity that the city enjoys today. People flocked to Charlevoix and northern Michigan from every state in the nation and abroad, often because of its salubrious climate and reputation as a haven for allergy sufferers.
David L. Miles, curator of the Charlevoix Historical Society’s Museum at Harsha House, will be presenting a history of the town’s hotels on Wednesday, November 3 at 7:00 p.m. The virtual program includes practically every hotel /major motel that has contributed to Charlevoix’s hospitality industry, with remarkable images from the Historical Society’s collections starting with the Fountain City House, then the first resort association clubhouse days, and up to today. Included will be stories both humorous and hair-raising from an era that vanished in the 1960s, but one that really put Charlevoix on the map over a century.
Mr. Miles is the recent recipient of two awards from the State of Michigan for his 2020 book Boulders: The Life and Creations of Earl A. Young in Charlevoix, Michigan, a complete illustrated history of Charlevoix’s world-renowned Mushroom Houses, motels, and the Weathervane Inn restaurant building. The Library of Michigan selected it as one of its twenty Michigan-themed Notable Books of the Year, and the Historical Society of Michigan recently granted Boulders a State History Award 2021 in the Books: Private Printing category.
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