In Charlevoix, Michigan, resident Earl Young is famous for his Mushroom Houses (also referred to as Gnome Houses). Aside from these dwellings, he also designed and oversaw construction of several commercial buildings, including the Weathervane Restaurant, which overlooks the Pine River Channel between Lake Michigan and Lake Charlevoix.
In 1928, while developing a neighborhood aptly named Boulder Park, Young and his crew discovered an enormous nine-ton glacial boulder. Young and his team dug up the massive rock, then buried it elsewhere for future use. A quarter-century later, this massive boulder was unearthed by Young for use as the capstone of the dining room fireplace in the Weathervane Restaurant he was constructing.
Work on the restaurant began in August 1953 and was completed in July 1954. Ever since, this impressive boulder has adorned the fireplace. On the floor, to lower right of the fireplace as you face it, is a meteorite that was incorporated into the structure. According to the restaurant’s website, it weighs nearly as much as the capstone.
One cannot help but be impressed by the fireplace and immense size of the capstone. Despite Earl Young having never completed his formal architectural education, the fireplace and the many unique homes and several commercial buildings designed and built by him in Charlevoix stand as lasting legacies of his innovative and creative skills.
Know Before You Go
A small series of displays about Earl Young's legacy in Charlevoix are located downstairs on the lower level of the Weathervane Restaurant. Guided street tours are offered in Charlevoix of the Mushroom homes designed and built by Young.