I have started a collection of “Vintage Travel Destinations/Locations” that I would like to visit at some point in my life, over on Pinterest. This collection is slowly growing but one of those places is the ‘Grand Hotel’ on Mackinac Island, Michigan (US), seen above. It’s right out of something from the Great Gatsby and has a history that goes back to 1887.
For today’s post I’m just going to share some of the history with you, stunning images and a cool tidbit about a certain famous female swimmer from the 1940s.
Brief Overview of the History of the Hotel: The Grand Hotel has a marvelous page filled with a much more detailed history on the Hotel (then what I will supply you) which you can read HERE.
July 10th, 1887: Grand Hotel opens, billed as a summer retreat for vacationers who arrive by lake steamer from Chicago, Erie, Montreal, Detroit, and by rail from across the continent. It took only 93 days to complete and rates are $3 to $5 a night.
1890’s: Grand Hotel’s Front Porch – longest in the world (880 feet in length)—becomes the principal meeting place for all of Mackinac Island, as well as a promenade for the elderly and a “Flirtation Walk” for island romantics. Grand Hotel Manager James “The Comet” Hayes invites an agent of Edison Phonograph to conduct regular demonstrations of the new invention.
Turn of the Century: The automobile finds its way onto the island. Grand Hotel supports an island-wide ban. A law is passed, but not strictly enforced until the 1930s (there are still no automobiles allowed to this day on the Island).
1919: Hotel rates are $6 per person.
1935: A radio salon where patrons can listen to Jack Benny and other popular programs is added.
1957: Michigan Historical Association selects Grand Hotel as a State Historical Building.
1980: Somewhere In Time, filmed at Grand Hotel and starring Christopher Reeve, Jane Seymour, and Christopher Plummer, is released (there are events at the hotel celebrating this very popular romantic movie. The next one is in October).
1989: The U.S. Department of Interior designates Grand Hotel a National Historic Landmark.
There are also 5 suites in the hotel named in honour of former First Ladies Lady Bird Johnson, Betty Ford, Rosalynn Carter, Nancy Reagan, and Barbara Bush.
Five U.S. Presidents — Clinton, Bush, Ford, Kennedy, and Truman — have visited Grand Hotel.
Images of the Grand Hotel:
Postcard showcasing the famous porch from Ripley’s Believe it or Not.
Interior of the Grand Hotel (it’s Fancy!):
The Dining Room
Sadies Ice Cream Parlor
Entrance to the grand ballroom…oh my…..
Some of the Hotel Rooms & Suites:
Since the only vehicles allowed on the Island are emergency vehicles and in winter snowmobiles, the only way to reach the dock from the hotel is via horse-drawn Carriage.
Now which famous swimmer from the 1940s & 50s has a tie to the hotel? That is…
Esther Williams in ‘This Time For Keeps’, 1947:
On site there is a pool called the Esther Williams Swimming Pool (5000 gallons) . It was named this because she filmed the movie ‘This Time for Keeps’ with Jimmy Durante at this hotel.
Full image of the scale of this massive pool.
The hotel is only open between May & October, so if you would like to book just head to their website and begin the fun. And please take loads of photos!
Dear friends, would you visit the Grand Hotel? Or maybe you have? If so please tell me all about it.
P.S. Stay tuned for more “Vintage To-Do List” as this is a new series I’m starting.