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Historic Downtown Mackinac

Mackinac State Historic Parks operates several historic structures in the downtown area of Mackinac Island. The McGulpin House, American Fur Company Retail Store & Dr. Beaumont Museum, Biddle House, and Benjamin Blacksmith Shop are all located on Market St.

Open June 9 — August 25, 2018
11:00-6:00
Admission by Fort Mackinac or Mackinac Art Museum Ticket

McGulpin House

One of the island’s oldest structures, McGulpin House dates from 1780, or possibly before. Originally located on the east end of town, the building was moved to this location during restoration in 1982. Once the home of William McGulpin, a baker for the American Fur Company, this structure is an excellent and rare example of early French Canadian domestic architecture.

Preserved as an architectural artifact, the interior is partially restored to reveal its layers of use. Exhibits tell the story of the house. There is also an interactive audiovisual program on the historic architecture of Mackinac Island.

American Fur Company Store and Dr. Beaumont Museum

The American Fur Company Retail Store sold a variety of general merchandise. It was here, on June 6, 1822, that French Canadian voyageur Alexis St. Martin was accidentally shot in the stomach. Fort Mackinac surgeon Dr. William Beaumont managed to keep St. Martin alive, but the hole in his stomach never properly healed. Through this hole, Dr. Beaumont conducted experiments, observed the workings of the human stomach and discovered much about the digestive process.

The building is staffed by a costumed interpreter. Exhibits include a period setting of what the store looked like in the 1820s. A gallery exhibit explains the fateful accident and Dr. Beaumont’s experiments.

Biddle House

The Biddle House was originally constructed in about 1780. It was purchased by the Biddle family in the 1831, although they had likely been renting the property since about 1822. Edward Biddle was from a prominent East Coast family and took up residence on the island after the War of 1812. He married Agatha de la Vigne, a local Odawa-French Canadian woman, and together raised their family in the log home. Biddle was an independent fur trader, businessman and held offices in the community.

The Biddle House is restored to the 1830s and costumed interpreters demonstrate the domestic life of Mackinac’s fur trade era.

Benjamin Blacksmith Shop

_MG_9256Originally built in the 1880s, Robert Benjamin and later his son, Herbert, ran a blacksmith shop into the 1960s. The contents of the shop were moved to the reconstructed building adjacent to the Biddle House in 1870. The Benjamin’s fixed carriage wheels and showed horses in the early days and repaired lawnmowers and maintained yacht motors in later years.

Today, visitors can witness a blacksmith demonstrate and explain traditional blacksmithing techniques. Entrance is through the Biddle House.

Also Downtown, Be Sure not to Miss—

Mission Church

Open May 3 – October 7
11:00 – 4:00

Closed during wedding ceremonies

Mission church was part of the mission established by New England Protestants in the 1820s. Built in 1829, it is the oldest surviving church building in Michigan. Its austere interior with secluded pews and sparse furnishings is characteristic of the Calvinist religion missionaries brought to the frontier.

Missionary Bark Chapel

Open May 3 – October 7
9:00 – 6:00

This reconstruction commemorates the Jesuit Mission established on the island in 1670-71 by Fr. Claude Dablon and Jacques Marquette. Dablon had arrived in the winter and was joined in the spring by Marquette, who was traveling with a roving band of Huron who had been seeking a home ever since they were driven out of southern Ontario by Iroquois warriors in the 1650s. Finding the soil poor on the island, by the fall the mission and village were located to the north shore of the straits, near present-day St. Ignace.