|The Stuart House City Museum on Mackinac
Island, Michigan is one of several buildings which were the center
of John Jacob Astor's Great Lakes fur trade in the 1820s. Today those buildings
house the Mackinac Island City Hall & community building, fire hall,
courthouse and police department, in addition to the museum.
The American Fur Company was founded in 1808 and following
the war of 1812, established a monopoly on the fur trade in the Great Lakes,
growing into one of the largest and wealthiest businesses in the United
States. The Stuart House was built in 1817 to house the resident agent
of John Jacob Astorís American Fur Trading Post.
Robert Stuart came to Mackinac Island in 1817 as an assistant
to Ramsay Crooks and replaced him as the agent from 1820 until 1835, when
the fur trade had greatly declined. By the Civil War, the Stuart House
was used as a boarding house. From the 1870s through the 1920s, it was
linked to the other buildings in the complex and operated as a hotel. The
links between the buildings were removed and the Stuart House City Museum
was started in 1941.
Today, the City of Mackinac Island operates the museum
during the summer, with admission by donation.
My favorite part of the museum is the old photographs
of Mackinac Island, but the most unique features of the museum are the
many models of Island buildings which were built by Dale Gensman from Rochester
Hills. Another interesting piece of Island history is Cubbie the Mackinac
Island Bear, a black bear which lived on Mackinac Island in the 1940s
and whose adventures were made into a children's book in 2010.
Mackinac Island in Winter
Mackinac Art Museum