Going For A Drive
One of the pleasant pastimes in Charlevoix is discovering by car the varied and unique architecture of the town. From the hundred-year-old summer cottages in the Belvedere Club and the Chicago Club associations to the Smurf-like mushroom houses designed by the late Earl Young.
It was in July 1878 that the first building was constructed on the grounds of the Charlevoix Summer Resort, now called the Belvedere Club. For several years following there was a flurry of construction as members of the Summer Resort Association (many of whom became acquainted at conventions of the Baptist Church) bought lots and built summer homes in the stylish, opulent fashion of the day.
The homes were mostly large and resplendent with verandas, balconies and dormers. Many of these century-old homes still stand on the grounds of the Belvedere Club, some enjoyed by third and fourth generation owners. Where an expansive well-manicured lawn now sprawls along Lake Charlevoix, the massive Belvedere Hotel once stood.
While roadways through the Belvedere Club are private, a drive along Ferry Avenue provides a good look at some of its beautiful summer homes.
Chicago Summer Resort
The Belvedere Club was such a successful venture another summer resort association was formed right across Pine River Channel in 1880. This one was called the Chicago Summer Resort Association and was organized by members of the First Congregational Church of Chicago. In June 1881, work started on the clubhouse which, when it was completed on a knoll overlooking Lake Charlevoix, contained 27 bedrooms, sitting rooms and a large dining room with accompanying kitchen facilities. The dining room is still used by Chicago Club members. As with the Belvedere Club, roads through the grounds are private, but a drive down East Dixon Avenue to Depot Beach affords a good view of some of the stylish Victorian architecture.
Greensky Hill Mission Church
The legacy of Ottawa and Chippewa Indian culture lives on at Greensky Hill Mission Church three miles east of Charlevoix on Susan Lake just off the Boyne City Road.
The log church was built in the 1850's, but the congregation was founded in 1833. Greensky Hill is the oldest continuously operating Indian congregation in Michigan. It was established by Peter Greensky who came to the area to form his own church.
The Church is now administered by the United Methodist Church in Horton Bay. It hosts Sunday services and in the summer is the site of a special heritage camp at which Indian children learn about the culture of their forefathers.
Earl Young Homes
Some call them "Fairy Houses" because they possess storybook whimsy; others call them "Mushroom Houses" because of their irregular shapes. By any name, the stone houses of Charlevoix are an amazing legacy to one of Michigan's most fascinating builders. The homes are located on Round Lake, along Park Avenue, and in Charlevoix's historic Boulder Park. Maps are available at the Chamber office and in the annual Visitor's Guide. Click here for details on guided tours of the Earl Young Homes.