Charlevoix, MI. Summer 2018

Charlevoix is a much smaller city than Petoskey. They both have harbors and most likely similar historical backgrounds … lumber, agriculture, fishing and manufacturing.

It is named after a French explorer, Pierre François Xavier de Charlevoix who was in this area in the early 1800s. The early settlers around 1850 were fishermen. Cheap land after the Civil War brought many new settlers to this area. It became the county seat in 1869. The Pine River Channel to Lake Michigan from Round Lake which is connected to Lake Charlevoix, was dug in 1869 to create a protected harbor. With navigation established Charlevoix was one of the busiest ports on the Great Lakes in the late 1870’s. The Charlevoix Lumber Company shipped as much as 40 million board feet of lumber each year in the late 1800’s before most of the northern Michigan peninsula was stripped of trees.

All of this happened after the City of Nininger, MN was established, thrived and disappeared after the railroad went through Hastings instead. Our home today is very near the center of historic Nininger.

Like almost everywhere Charlevoix has an interesting history. It has been a favorite summer place for the Chicago elite, a hideaway for Chicago gangsters, it hosts summer events like Petunia planting, the Venetian Festival and the fall Apple Fest. Today the activity and economy are firmly rooted in the visitor and hospitality industry.

The main street through town crosses the boat channel on a lift bridge.

It goes up and down every half hour.

Flower baskets hang from nearly every lamp post on the main street.

Big fancy boats go by.

And some more realistic ones.

In an all day parade, lots of fun to watch while taking a walk out to the lighthouse.

The water along side of the jetty was amazingly clear.

We went down through one of the very elegant old “Chicago Club” neighborhoods past enormous homes in park-like settings to a small park.

The old train station that received the Chicago elite to the summer “cottages” is still here. There was a Frank Lloyd Wright designed pavillion here until it burned in 1924. Now there is one provided by the Lions Club for everyone to use.

And just next to this was the Charlevoix Sailing School for anyone who wanted to learn how to sail. It was lots of fun watching kids take off in fairly small boats and sail around bigger sailboats and fishing boats.

There were formal gardens behind the Train Station.

Back in town we drove through another neighborhood from the 1920s that featured the “Mushroom Houses” They were the idea of an architect for an “organic” housing style. Many of them are still here.

These reminded me of the Hobbits homes in the Shire, no round doors though.

Charlevoix is a nice smaller town. Plenty of normal services like a hardware store or grocery, lots of visitor oriented stores for memorabilia, food and drinks. Many art shops and clothing (t-shirts to fancy duds) stores. A nice marina and park, access to Lake Michigan. All of what you might want without being a big massively busy place. The kind of place we like to have access to while staying in a smaller quieter place like East Jordan.

More later, Much Love,

Roger and Susan

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