In the beautiful resort town of Charlevoix, Michigan lie an amazing array of “mushroom” homes designed by Earl Young (1889-1975). For a span of 52 years this insurance man/realtor spent time designing and/or building over 30 homes in the area. Following Frank Lloyd Wright’s philosophy that a home should fit into the landscape of the area; Young crafted his “hobbit” or “fairyland” houses of local stone many with “hidden” doorways. He refused to remove trees in order to build, instead, incorporating them into his designs. He also employed the use of multiple curved lines in his masterpieces foregoing the traditional use of straight lines and angles.
Many of Young’s houses can be found in the Boulder Park area of the city. Each home is unique; some large and ornate while others are more mouse-house sized. During the summer there are occasional tours of these homes but brochures which offer a self-guided walking tour can be had at the Charlevoix Chamber of Commerce.
But if visiting the inside of a Young building is on your bucket list you can always head over to the Weathervane Terrace Inn and Suites. Located on the Pine River overlooking Round Lake it is the perfect place to explore Young’s sense of play in his creations.
Today, new houses are springing up in the area reminiscent of the ones designed by Young. Below is a beautiful example that I saw being built last summer (2015). Utilizing thatch like many of Young’s early homes, it gives this unique and stately beauty the sense of being an old English manor located somewhere on that great Island.
While there are many other things to do in Charlevoix besides house gazing there are few places you will ever visit that has such a wonderful legacy available to anyone on a drive-by. So slow it on down and head into town. It’s definitely worth a stop.