The Charlevoix Mushroom Houses in Northern Michigan are so unique they’ve been entered in the “coolest place to stay in the U.S.” on Good Morning America. If that’s not a testament to how cool they are, I don’t know what is.
The mushroom houses of Charlevoix began to really take their shape in 1924 in Michigan. The city is a four-hour drive from Detroit, and a two-hour drive from Sault Ste. Marie in Ontario, Canada.
What Are The Charlevoix Mushroom Houses?
You may think that these houses would in some way be connected to psychedelic mushrooms but it appears that they are not.
The houses have a deep historical connection to the city. If you really want the authentic feel of the area where they were conceptualized, stop by the Charlevoix Historical Society before you go on your tour of the mushroom houses in Charlevoix.
When you do go on your tour, you’ll see that it’s an easy walk through the streets. It’s surprising to know that the Charlevoix Mushroom Houses are actually owned by private citizens. They not only live in them, but have adapted them and many have made their own changes, while of course observing and respecting the original designs.
When you do go on your tour, you’ll be able to see inside some of the houses. Most of them you’ll get to view from the road, however the owners are generally very accepting of people who want to see their amazing houses. The tours are sure to respect the boundaries of the people living inside the Charlevoix Mushroom Houses.
Meet Earl Young: Master Mushroom Architect
Touted as being of the most fascinating stone structures ever built, these designs are the creation of Earl Young. In 1924, local designer Earl Young purchased Bartholomew’s Boulder Park. Three years later, this genius designer began his work on the first mushroom home design, which was called Boulder Manor.
This gorgeous structure is located right along the Lakeshore Drive, and was Earl Young’s private residence at the time. Unfortunately, even though it was nearly finished, the Great Depression hit. He had to stop construction and ended up losing his manor in 1929.
Fortunately, in 1937 he was able to get his house back. He finished the gorgeous Boulder Manor and transformed it into a stunning mid-century modern design back in the 1940s.
Earl Young ended up designing 30 unique homes over a 54 year period. 28 of these buildings are still standing in Charlevoix! Recently, visitors have flocked to the city just to see and take tours of these structures, which cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
There’s something to say about the unique touch of a creator. Of course other mushroom houses have been attempted, but nothing is close to Earl’s vision.
Our *Favorite Mushroom Houses
The originals will always tend to be the favourites. The very first house Earl Young built, however, doesn’t look at all like it did when he first created it. The house itself was built before Earl purchased the land at Boulder Manor. Nonetheless, it’s still close to his other Charlevoix houses.
There’s a good reason that 304 Park Avenue — arguably the most famous mushroom house — doesn’t look like the ordinal design. Earl built it i n1919 before the trend of his mushroom designs really took hold in how he expressed his creations. New owners of the house remodelled it in 2015 so it looked more like a mushroom than any of the other houses in that neighbour hood.
There are a few different vacation rental places in Charlevoix that feature their mushroom houses for guests. One of our favourites has four unique mushroom houses, which are perfect for a family reunion or a memorable vacation. They book weddings there, as well as photo shoots. Sometimes corporations will book the mushroom houses to have retreats for their staff.
The unique nature of the houses makes them the perfect photo opportunity that you can keep forever when you stayed like a hobbit in a mushroom house.
These particular Charlevoix Mushroom Houses are steps from the beach, and also just a short walk to downtown.
Why not stay in one of them and add so much authenticity to your tour of the other houses?
The Thatch house
The ultimate mushroom house vacation get-away! This gorgeous structure is three stories with a Master Suite on each floor. There are 6 bedrooms, 5 1/2 baths, anda media room in this one-of-a-kind thatch house. On the upper level, there is a cozy sitting area to enjoy the stunning sunsets over Lake Michigan!
With central air conditioning and floor heating, this Charlevoix Villa is updated just enough to keep you comfortable, while keeping all the traditional building features.
The Chalet is set back behind The Thatch House. It shares its iconic thatch roof, but has its own private entrances to keep the experience private for guests.
The Chalet is a “secret hideaway”, made for the romantic at heart… it’s perfect for honeymooners, to celebrate an anniversary, or for a romantic birthday getaway. Lots of ladies also book this Charlevoix Mushroom House for girls-only weekends of shopping, dining and fun!
It’s extra “magic” because of the spiral staircase which leads to the secluded Master bedroom on the lower level. There’s also lots of space for the children to play and sleep on the level above, in the overhead loft.
The Cottage was formerly named “Young at Heart” in homage to local architect Earl Young. He added his distinctive features to this cottage, which are amazing considering it was originally a plain clapboard house.
Recently renovated and given a fresh look, the cottage has 4 bedrooms and 2 baths so that up to 7 guests (4 adults and 3 children) can relax comfortably.
It’s the perfect spot for a family or families traveling together.
Charlevoix Mushroom House Tours & Booking (info)
You can buy a book that will help to guide you from the museum for only a few dollars. They wanted to keep it accessible so these delightful structures could be enjoyed by anyone who have the time and the gusto to go and see them.
You can also book a guided tour. If you do this, you’ll get personal stories and insider information. Locals and enthusiasts alike would recommend the guided tour, because you just get so much more information out of it.
The history is so rich and nuanced and it’s worth it to have someone who knows the story, tell you about it. As you walk through these updated, classy, architectural specimens, it’s so nice to have someone who really knows the actual goings-on in the town and all of the circumstances that surround each structure.
Maybe you saw them on t.v., or maybe you saw them on Instagram, but if you’re heading to Michigan, go see these houses!
Not only are they traditional and a portal to a different era altogether, they are whimsical. It’s good to visit old things that make you feel like life is still a little bit magical.
These mushroom houses are sure to bring more magic into your vacation.