The Fairy Tale Houses of Charlevoix: Fantasies or Nightmares?
Witch's Cottage? No, it's a Mushroom Home!
These gnarled houses remind a few people of witch's cottages, the ones you saw illustrated in old children's fairy tale storybooks...but they're far from it. These unique buildings in Charlevoix have had more nicknames thrust upon them than an unpopular politician.
These cool little (and not-so-little) houses are known as "Elf Cottages", "Fairy Houses", "Fairy Tale Houses", "Gnome Houses", "Hobbit Houses," and "Mushroom Houses". These dwellings look like something you'd see in any of the "Lord Of The Rings" stories. These stone homes with the weird roofs are sitting along Park Avenue in Charlevoix; but they're not just made from any old stone: the architecture includes boulders, fieldstone, limestone, quarry stone and red stone.
You can thank architect Earl Young for designing these, who began working on 'em in 1918. Actually, he began because he wanted one himself, so that's what he did - made his own at 302 Park Avenue.
Oh, Earl didn't stop there. From 1918 thru the 1950's, he constructed approximately 30 other Elf/Fairy/Gnome/Hobbit/Mushroom Homes all along Park Avenue. The secret to the unique look was to focus on the roof, then construct the made-to-fit houses underneath.
According to a 1971 article in the the Ludington Daily News: "Sometimes the rooflines sweep so close to the ground that side windows are cut into them. The homes feature large fireplaces, generous use of stonework, and creative landscaping which helps the houses blend and snuggle into the hillsides".
Also, visitcharlevoix.com goes on to say "Many have undulating stone walls capped by a mushroom shaped cedar shake roof. Windows are framed with boulders. Chimneys have frosted stone caps. Doorways are lined with massive stones".
To see some of the more famous/popular Mushroom homes, check out the 1946 Half House at 306 Park Avenue, 'Betide' at 308 Park Avenue, 'Abide' at 310 Park Avenue, and the 1951 Mushroom House, located at the corner of Clinton and Grant Streets. And of course, the awesome Thatch House.
People from all over the world come here to see these unique houses.....so if you haven't, what's your excuse? You live in Michigan, doncha? And for those very few who are somewhat superstitious and fearful of these homes, c'mon...get a grip.
Tours are available and some of 'em are used as rentals.....now that would be fun.
Here's another Michigan stop to make during your Michigan roadtrip this summer!
GALLERY OF MUSHROOM HOMES