When in Charlevoix, make a point of seeing the architectural collection of self-taught builder Earl Young. Starting in 1919, and continuing into the seventies, Young fashioned over two dozen creations using indigenous materials.
Over the course of his fifty-year career, Young would build twenty-six residential houses and four commercial properties. His works are made mostly of stone, using limestone, fieldstone, and boulders that he found throughout Northern Michigan. Each of these houses is individually different and was designed to blend in with its surrounding landscape. Earl Young's houses feature his signature designs, along with wide, wavy eaves, exposed rafter tails; cedar-shake roofs; and a horizontal emphasis in design. These buildings are creatively known as Gnome Homes, Mushroom Houses, or Hobbit Houses. Click here for a self-guided tour map
The following list of homes is some of Earl Young's most photographed and impressive houses.
- Half House: This unique house gets its name for the unusual manner in which the house appears to be cut in half.
- Thatch Roof House: Recently remodeled, the house has an impressive thatch roof and sweeping arching roof lines.
- 306 Park Ave.: Earl Young's house has two chimneys that look like the cement is melting.
- Mushroom House: The unique roofline of the house gives the impression of the house looking like a mushroom. This house lends its name to the rest of Earl Young's houses.
- M. Sucher House: This iconic house blends into the lot in which the house sits. This house reflects one-third sky, one-third water, and one-third grass. The house has characteristically low ceilings which reflect Earl Young's short stature.
- Boulder Manor: Earl Young began construction of this breathtaking in 1928; however, lost the house during the Great Depression. He did not regain possession of the house until 1937 which he completed construction of the property in the early 1940s.
- Owl House: The house gets its name from the front side of the house which looks like an owl.
- Castle House: Situated on the shores of Round Lake, this beautiful castle stands proudly.
Many of the homes are accessible within a reasonable walking distance from downtown; more can be seen by car. Downtown, Stafford's Weathervane Restaurant and Weathervane Terrace Inn & Suites on Pine River Lane, and the Lodge hotel on Michigan Avenue are also his creations.
A self-guided tour map available from the Visitors Center at 109 Mason St. Click here for a self-guided tour map. More information and history available at the Harsha House Museum.
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