History of Mackinac Island, Michigan Tour
This tour starts with the famed Grand Hotel and includes several other historic sites along the southern half of Mackinac Island.
Built in 1887, the Grand Hotel is one of the last great wooden- framed hotels in the country and also one of the top rated in the world. It’s name is befitting given the hotel’s enormous size and world-class accommodations. A few American presidents, including Theodore Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, and George W. Bush have stayed here. Foreign leaders have been guests as well, including Russian President Vladimir Putin. Lightbulb inventor Thomas Edison, who gave the first public demonstration of the phonograph here, and book author Mark Twain are other notable guests. Since the hotel opened, over 5 million people have stayed at the hotel. It also has the world's longest porch at 600 feet and the 390 hotel rooms are all different with seven of them having been named after First Ladies, including Jacqueline Kennedy and Laura Bush. The hotel was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1989 and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.
This house dates back to the height of the fur trade industry in the upper Great Lakes region. It was built in 1817 by the American Fur Trade Company to house its resident agent as well as other agents and clerks. The company grew to dominate the trade and its owner and founder, Jacob Astor, became one of the wealthiest men in the country. The building's namesake was the company's resident agent between 1820-1835. It is now a museum featuring exhibits about the fur trade and 17th century European explorations. There is a recreated period bedroom as well as several models of local houses and lighthouses on display.
The first fort on the Straits of Mackinac was constructed in about 1690 by the French near the St. Ignace Mission on the north side of the Straits of Mackinac. It was closed in 1697 and by the early 1700s, the French began to refortify the area. The fort became the main trade depot of the upper Great Lakes fur trade. The fort was used as both a military post and a civilian community. Michilimackinac remained a French outpost until 1761 when British soldiers took control after their victory in the French and Indian War.
Fort Holmes is a small, wood and earthen fort on the southern end of the highest ridge on Mackinac Island. It also sits at the highest elevation on the island.The fort was constructed by British soldiers in 1814 during the War of 1812 and was originally named Fort George in honor of King George III.
Originally built as an Indian agent's office and dormitory in 1838, the Richard and Jane Manoogian Mackinac Art Museum features a wide variety of items on display including Native American art and artifacts, 17th and 18th century maps of the Great Lakes, Victorian era items, photographs from the 19th and 20th centuries, and contemporary works by local artists. The building is a Michigan State Historic Site and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Mission Church, built in 1831, is the oldest church in Michigan and belonged to the first permanent Protestant mission established in the Northwest territory in the early 1820s. The congregation began to decline in the early 1830s as the fur trade started to decline and the Native Americans the mission was ministering to were forced to migrate west of the Mississippi River. The mission property and church itself were then used for a variety of purposes for many years. Today, the church is restored and used for events including weddings. It can be visited during in the summer in the afternoon. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.