Mackinac – Our Famous Island

The Mackinac Arts Council presents Mackinac – Our Famous Island in the Center for the Arts at Mission Point every Sunday May 2 – October 24. Admission is free. #thisismackinac

About the documentary: Detroit Public TV and Mackinac State Historic Parks takes viewers to Mackinac – Our Famous Island along its many shores and trails to experience the natural beauty of the island, visit landmarks that reveal its earliest history and introduce the people who still work to preserve this special place. There is far more to this sacred island than horses and fudge, and DPTV cameras capture the landscape and beauty while connecting us to the diverse communities and people who have been stewards of Mackinac Island throughout its history.

Mackinac – Our Famous Island

The Mackinac Arts Council presents Mackinac – Our Famous Island in the Center for the Arts at Mission Point every Sunday May 2 – October 24. Admission is free. #thisismackinac

About the documentary: Detroit Public TV and Mackinac State Historic Parks takes viewers to Mackinac – Our Famous Island along its many shores and trails to experience the natural beauty of the island, visit landmarks that reveal its earliest history and introduce the people who still work to preserve this special place. There is far more to this sacred island than horses and fudge, and DPTV cameras capture the landscape and beauty while connecting us to the diverse communities and people who have been stewards of Mackinac Island throughout its history.

Mackinac – Our Famous Island

The Mackinac Arts Council presents Mackinac – Our Famous Island in the Center for the Arts at Mission Point every Sunday May 2 – October 24. Admission is free. #thisismackinac

About the documentary: Detroit Public TV and Mackinac State Historic Parks takes viewers to Mackinac – Our Famous Island along its many shores and trails to experience the natural beauty of the island, visit landmarks that reveal its earliest history and introduce the people who still work to preserve this special place. There is far more to this sacred island than horses and fudge, and DPTV cameras capture the landscape and beauty while connecting us to the diverse communities and people who have been stewards of Mackinac Island throughout its history.

A lithograph by Currier and Ives titled "Chicago in Flames." Scene from the fire of 1871.

Gurdon Hubbard and The Great Chicago Fire

A picture of Gurdon Hubbard.

Gurdon Hubbard.

A picture of 'The Lilacs', the cottage Hubbard built in Hubbard's Annex to the National Park.

Hubbard’s cottage, “The Lilacs.”

  Gurdon Saltonstall Hubbard first came to Mackinac Island in 1818 as a clerk for the American Fur Company. In the same year, his work took him to Chicago where he eventually settled and became one of the city’s most influential citizens. Hubbard’s business interests included opening the first meat packing plant in Chicago as well as being an insurance underwriter, land speculator and steamship company owner. He helped organize the Chicago Board of Trade, served as representative in the Illinois General Assembly in 1832-33 and was director of the Chicago Branch of the State Bank of Illinois. In 1855, Hubbard purchased eighty acres on the southern bluff of Mackinac Island and built a cottage called “The Lilacs” around 1870.

  On Sunday October 8, 1871, Hubbard and his wife Mary Ann attended morning services at the Reformed Episcopal Church in Chicago. Afterward, they had dinner with Hubbard’s cousins, Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Hebard of Iowa, at the new Palmer House hotel. They returned home after attending evening services at Grace Methodist church and prepared for bed. As Mary Ann finished combing her hair, she looked out a window and noticed a large fire burning toward the southwest. The previous evening there had been a large fire in a wood planing mill on the city’s west side and she thought perhaps it had rekindled. She watched for several minutes and finally awoke Gurdon who quickly became concerned.

A lithograph by Currier and Ives titled "Chicago in Flames." Scene from the fire of 1871.

Lithograph by Currier and Ives titled Chicago in Flames. Scene from the Chicago Fire of 1871.

  Gurdon dressed and prepared to take his family west of the city to his son’s home. Upon inspecting the route, Hubbard realized the fire was moving northeast and had jumped the river. When he returned to his home on LaSalle Street, he found the Hebards, who had left the Palmer House shortly before it was consumed. Several other family members, friends and neighbors were also there, hoping that the Hubbard’s brick house would protect them from the fire. Hubbard instructed several of the men to tear up the carpets, wet them in the cistern and spread them on the roof.  Mary Ann and the maids provided food and beverage while the fire continued to move across the city.

A picture of the intersection of Madison and State Streets in Chicago after the Great Fire of 1871.

Madison and State Streets in Chicago after the fire.

  By Monday morning, the fire was only a few blocks away and nothing that Gurdon Hubbard could do would save his home. He and Mary Ann packed as much as they could and joined thousands of other Chicagoans as they fled the flames. Gurdon lost his fortune in the fire and was near bankruptcy due to investments in several of the insurance companies for which he was underwriter. Hubbard made the decision to pay off all the insurance losses for which he was directly responsible. Hubbard continued ownership of his cottage and property on Mackinac Island and it was suggested by a business associate that he sell some of the land to recoup some of his losses.

  In 1882, Hubbard borrowed money from wealthy Chicago friends and had his land on Mackinac Island surveyed and platted. The island had become the second national park in 1875 and property was in demand for constructing summer cottages. Hubbard’s idea was to build a fashionable resort hotel and cottage community. The land was platted for 132 building lots which he named “Hubbard’s Annex to the Mackinac National Park.” Hubbard promoted the lots throughout the Midwest and although the hotel was not built, he successfully developed a cottage community on the island that still thrives today. The sale of the lots helped Hubbard rebuild his fortune, most of which went to his family, as he passed away in 1884.

A picture of Gurdon Hubbard and his wife, Mary.

Gurdon Hubbard and his wife, Mary Ann.

A map of Hubbard's Annex to the National Park

Plat of “Hubbard’s Annex to the National Park.”

  On your next visit to Mackinac Island take a ride out on Annex Road and discover Hubbard’s Annex. The best source for Mackinac Island history, including the historic cottages and neighborhoods on Mackinac Island, is Fort Mackinac. The fort is open through October 24. Information on tickets can be found at mackinacparks.com. 

 

Mackinac – Our Famous Island

The Mackinac Arts Council presents Mackinac – Our Famous Island in the Center for the Arts at Mission Point every Sunday May 2 – October 24. Admission is free. #thisismackinac

About the documentary: Detroit Public TV and Mackinac State Historic Parks takes viewers to Mackinac – Our Famous Island along its many shores and trails to experience the natural beauty of the island, visit landmarks that reveal its earliest history and introduce the people who still work to preserve this special place. There is far more to this sacred island than horses and fudge, and DPTV cameras capture the landscape and beauty while connecting us to the diverse communities and people who have been stewards of Mackinac Island throughout its history.

Mackinac – Our Famous Island

The Mackinac Arts Council presents Mackinac – Our Famous Island in the Center for the Arts at Mission Point every Sunday May 2 – October 24. Admission is free. #thisismackinac

About the documentary: Detroit Public TV and Mackinac State Historic Parks takes viewers to Mackinac – Our Famous Island along its many shores and trails to experience the natural beauty of the island, visit landmarks that reveal its earliest history and introduce the people who still work to preserve this special place. There is far more to this sacred island than horses and fudge, and DPTV cameras capture the landscape and beauty while connecting us to the diverse communities and people who have been stewards of Mackinac Island throughout its history.

Artist-in-Residence Workshop with Printmaker Nicholas Hill

2017 Guggenheim Fellow Nicholas Hill will use a small printing press to create printing plates based upon on-sight drawings that he’s created at various sites on the island. His printmaking processes are environmentally-friendly and water-based. He also looks forward to open studio sessions where visitors can come to his studio to see the printing process as he would use hand-made papers and demonstrate a variety of printing techniques with each plate. The press is small enough and portable and he plans to offer these demonstrations at other sites or even out-of-doors in good weather. Printmaking history is rich and complements the historical periods of the history of the island, so he plans to share these parallel histories during his demonstrations.

The primary demonstration will take place at the Station 256 Conference Room, located above the Mackinac Island State Park Visitor’s Center. The entrance is located to the rear of the building. Admission to all events are free.

Mackinac – Our Famous Island

The Mackinac Arts Council presents Mackinac – Our Famous Island in the Center for the Arts at Mission Point every Sunday May 2 – October 24. Admission is free. #thisismackinac

About the documentary: Detroit Public TV and Mackinac State Historic Parks takes viewers to Mackinac – Our Famous Island along its many shores and trails to experience the natural beauty of the island, visit landmarks that reveal its earliest history and introduce the people who still work to preserve this special place. There is far more to this sacred island than horses and fudge, and DPTV cameras capture the landscape and beauty while connecting us to the diverse communities and people who have been stewards of Mackinac Island throughout its history.

Mackinac – Our Famous Island

The Mackinac Arts Council presents Mackinac – Our Famous Island in the Center for the Arts at Mission Point every Sunday May 2 – October 24. Admission is free. #thisismackinac

About the documentary: Detroit Public TV and Mackinac State Historic Parks takes viewers to Mackinac – Our Famous Island along its many shores and trails to experience the natural beauty of the island, visit landmarks that reveal its earliest history and introduce the people who still work to preserve this special place. There is far more to this sacred island than horses and fudge, and DPTV cameras capture the landscape and beauty while connecting us to the diverse communities and people who have been stewards of Mackinac Island throughout its history.

Michilimackinac Archaeology 2021 Wrap-Up

Southeast root cellar. This image shows the cellar shortly before completion. Only a gray circular area of cultural deposit, probably a postmold, and remnants of the south wall remain. 

  The 2021 Michilimackinac field season came to a satisfying end in late August. After seven seasons of excavation, we have finally reached the bottom of the southeast root cellar! The cellar was first tentatively identified in 2015. Since that time remnants of the north, west and south walls have been exposed and excavated along with a wide variety of interesting artifacts. More cellar deposit and the east wall are still present in the east profile and extending into the area of the House D excavation where the cellar was identified, but not excavated.

Central cellar. The dark soil surrounded by lighter sand is the central cellar. Six posts are now visible along the eastern edge of the cellar, two on the south, three on the west, and one on the north.

  The central cellar, on the other hand, became better defined and shows no sign of ending. It continued to yield trade goods, such as hawk bells, and structural artifacts, such as a hinge.

  A second new square was opened in the north row of squares where we eventually expect to find evidence of the north wall of the house. Both squares opened this summer are now down to the rubble layer created by the 1781 demolition of the fort.

  The newest square yielded the most interesting artifact of the second half of the season, a clear, circular intaglio set with Masonic symbols on it. The square and compass surrounding the letter G are easy to see. The surrounding symbols are not as legible but appear to include a trowel on the left. The set is .42” in diameter and could be from a linked button or a ring.

  While the lodge at Mackinac (St. John’s #15) was not established until 1784 on Mackinac Island, many of the soldiers and traders at Michilimackinac were members of lodges in Detroit or further east. Known Masons at Michilimackinac include: Major Robert Rogers, Lt. John Christie, Captain John Vattas, Lt. Robert Brooks, Lt. George Clowes, Surgeon’s Mate David Mitchell, Felix Graham, Benjamin Lyon, Forrest Oakes, David Rankin, and Ezekiel Solomon.

Masonic intaglio from a linked button or ring.

  This list is a starting point for possible owners of the intaglio. It could be a clue to the “British trader” who owned the house or could have been lost by a guest of his. It is particularly interesting to note that three other residents of the southeast rowhouse were Masons, Lt. Clowes (House A/B), Ezekiel Solomon (House C), and David Mitchell (House D).

The site is packed and waiting for spring.

  The 2021 field season was sponsored by Mackinac Associates, and we thank them for their generous support.