Ernest Hemingway’s Petoskey Summers

Growing up, Ernest Hemingway spent his summers on the white sandy shores of Walloon Lake just a few miles south of Petoskey. His family first visited the lake in 1898, and that summer, the family purchased an acre of land on the north shore where they built their family getaway—Windemere Cottage.

Hemingway spent 20 summers at the cottage frequenting locales such as the Horton Bay General Store, the Carnegie Building and The Annex. He spent much of his time exploring the woods and fishing in nearby lakes and rivers.

Northern Michigan inspired much of Hemingway’s writing, and is the setting for one of his first novels, “The Torrents of Spring.” Local Petoskey businesses and people also served as models for several of Hemingway’s own characters and scenes.

Today, the author’s fans can still follow in his steps. Below are a few of his favorite haunts that are open to the public for you to visit on your next Northern Michigan vacation.

Horton Creek 

Near 5408 Boyne City Rd., Horton Bay

Hemingway spent a lot of time fishing in Horton Creek, which is mentioned in “The End of Something,” “The Indians Moved Away” and “On Writing.” It’s also the model for the creek in “Summer People” and “The Last Good Country.” Horton Creek can be reached from the Rufus Teesdale Nature Preserve, which has a footpath to the water.

Horton Bay General Store

5115 Boyne City Rd., Boyne City

Built in June 1876, the store is described in Hemingway’s story “Up in Michigan,” and it seems to be the model for Mr. Packard’s store in “The Last Good Country.” During Hemingway’s time, the general store was the center of business and social life in the city. In the evenings, men sat on the counters discussing crop prices and politics while women sat together and knitted. Children ran to and fro through the doors buying penny candy and playing. Today, the store still carries a similar role.

Carnegie Library Building

451 E. Mitchell St., Petoskey 

While staying in Petoskey during the winter of 1919-1920, Hemingway often visited the library. At an event here, he shared his experiences in World War I with the Ladies Aid Society. At this event, he met the Connable family, whose acquaintance led to his career as the Toronto Star newspaper’s European correspondent. The Carnegie Library Building later became the Petoskey Public Library and a center for community activities.

Jesperson’s Restaurant

312 Howard St., Petoskey

This Petoskey eatery famous for its homemade pies was established in 1903, and is said to have been visited often by Hemingway and his friend Dutch Pailthorp. The long lunch counter is similar to the one described in Hemingway’s story “The Killers,” and the original owner of the restaurant, Yorgen Jesperson, may have been the inspiration behind the character Yogi Johnson in the novel “The Torrents of Spring.”

The Annex (City Park Grill)

432 E. Lake St., Petoskey

The Annex, historically a saloon and billiard hall, was a popular spot during Hemingway’s time in Petoskey and is thought to be the inspiration for the saloon in his story, “A Man of the World.” During Prohibition, The Annex legally sold soft drinks and illegally still served alcohol. The owner at the time, Frank Fotchtman, built secret underground tunnels to the Cushman Hotel and the Grill Café to export alcohol. The doors and openings to these tunnels are still visible, though the tunnels no longer exist due to city infrastructure. Today, this historic saloon is now the City Park Grill.

The Perry Hotel

100 Lewis St., Petoskey

This resort hotel was originally built in 1899 and is still open for business. Hemingway stayed here in 1916 when he hiked from his home in Oak Park, Illinois to Petoskey with a friend. They stayed at the Perry Hotel for a night before going to the family cottage at Walloon Lake. Each year, the hotel hosts a celebration for Hemingway’s birthday on July 21.

McCarthy’s Barber Shop 

309 Howard St., Petoskey

In the fall of 1919, a young Hemingway likely frequented McCarthy’s Barber Shop for a haircut, shave and some friendly conversation. He may have also used the public baths located in the basement of the building. The shop is referred to in Hemingway’s novel, “The Torrents of Spring.”

Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad Station

Corner of Bay and Lewis Streets, Petoskey

The Hemingway family passed through this station when traveling from Harbor Springs to the Windemere Cottage. Built in 1899, the station was the region’s transportation hub, and the train station in his novel “The Torrents of Spring” is likely modeled after it. Today the station is the Pennsylvania Plaza Office Complex.

Little Traverse Historical Museum 

100 Depot St., Petoskey

The building was originally constructed in 1892 by the Chicago and West Michigan railroad, and it later served as the Pere Marquette Railroad’s main station. Hemingway likely used it when traveling between Charlevoix and Petoskey. Now, the old railroad station is the Little Traverse Historical Museum and houses an exhibit related to Hemingway’s personal and literary connections.

Visit the Michigan Hemingway Tour website for additional sites to visit in Northern Michigan.


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