In the 1930’s and 40’s, architect Earl Young designed more than two dozen fairytale stone cottages around Charlevoix. The slanty-roofed dwellings, capped with thick wooden shingles, are built from fieldstone, limestone and boulders hauled in from an Onaway quarry. Each of these 27 structures begs closer examination, and a leisurely walking tour along Charlevoix’s crooked, tree-lined streets is the best way to catch a peek into Young’s fantasy world.
Pick up a map from the Charlevoix Area Chamber of Commerce (109 MASON, 231-547-2101, charlevoix.org) to begin your tour. Start with the southern cluster of homes overlooking the Lake Michigan shoreline. The enchanting homes are privately owned, but they still have great curb appeal—so practice a no-trespassing policy and admire from the end of the driveway.
As you walk the route, keep your eyes open for Young home look-alikes. Some Charlevoix houses imitate the famed architect’s quiet style and sloping rooflines. The triangular block bordered by Grant, Park and Clinton Streets is a pure pie-shaped wedge of classic Young designs.
If you’re aching for a look inside the Hobbit cottages, get a taste of the interiors—and famed local cuisine—at your dinner destination. In the 1950’s, Young transformed an old gristmill into an elegant riverside bistro, now Stafford’s Weathervane Restaurant (106 Pine River Ln., 231-547-4311, staffords.com), and completed the ambiance with nautical touches and century-old street lamps from Copenhagen. Don’t miss the centerpiece—an impressive stone fireplace—but ask for a seat on the terrace for your twilight repast.
QUICK BITE: For simple sandwiches done right, stake out a curbside table at Downtown Andy’s. 216 Bridge St., 231-547-9530.