Grand Hotel

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Discover Grand Hotel, which was a summer retreat for vacationers on Mackinac Island who arrived by lake steamer from Chicago or Detroit.

Grand Hotel, a member of Historic Hotels of America since 2001, dates back to 1887.

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The Grand Hotel was constructed at a time when the United States was defined by great economic prosperity, industrial expansion, and significant social reform. When it opened in 1887, the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island was established as a summer retreat for vacationers who arrived by steamer from Chicago, Erie, and Detroit, as well as by rail from across the continent. The hotel's 600-foor Front Porch soon became the primary meeting spot for anyone on Mackinac Island, especially for island romantics who referred to it as “Flirtation Walk.” A number of leading American figures frequented the Grand Hotel around this time, including Thomas Edison and Mark Twain. Scenes of Edison impressing crowds with his new inventions on the hotel’s Front Porch were common sights around the beginning of the 20h century. In 1919, W. Stewart Woodfill joined the Grand Hotel as a desk clerk. After serving the business in several capacities over the next few years, he purchased the hotel in 1933. The Grand Hotel reached new heights in its popularity due to Woodfill’s outstanding stewardship. He attracted ever-increasing numbers of guests to the hotel and even convinced Hollywood producers to shoot portions of the film, This Time for Keeps, onsite in 1947. R.D. “Dan” Musser joined the staff as a cashier four years later and quickly rose through the ranks to become Woodfill’s most trusted lieutenant. Woodfill eventually sold the Grand Hotel to the Musser family in 1979, which they have operated ever since.

Under the Mussers watchful eye, the building has grown exponentially while also maintaining its grand historical charm. In the 1970s, Dan Musser and his wife, Amelia, began a complete renovation of the Grand Hotel with the help of architect Richard Bos and interior decorator Carleton Varney. Two decades later in 1998, six newly named rooms opened in the West Wing in honor of First Ladies Lady Bird Johnson, Betty Ford, Rosalynn Carter, Nancy Reagan and Barbara Bush. These rooms were then joined by The Jacqueline Kennedy Suite and The Laura Bush Suite during the 2000s. The expansion of the hotel continued into the next century with construction of the Millennium Wing, which debuted in 2001. This fantastic location features a 300-seat addition to the Main Dining Room, 42 new guestrooms and The Grand Pavilion—a 3,600-square-foot private meeting room and dining room. For years, this spectacular historic hotel has acquired numerous awards and accolades. The Michigan Historical Association first identified the Grand Hotel as a State Historical Building in 1957. The U.S. Department of the Interior then listed it on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972, later recognizing it as a National Historic Landmark in 1989. The Michigan Department of Energy, Labor & Economic Growth also certified the hotel as a “Green Lodging Michigan Leader” in 2017, due to the reduction of its own carbon footprint. Numerous travel organizations have bestowed praise upon the Grand Hotel as well, such as Conde Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, and Gourmet magazine. The Grand Hotel is even received a Four-Diamond rating from the American Automobile Association (AAA) and consistently ranks among the best historic hotels in Historic Hotels of America.

  • About the Location +

    Located within the Straits of Mackinac at the confluences of Lake Michigan and Huron, Mackinac Island has been among the nation’s most celebrated holiday destinations since the late Victorian era. People from across the Midwest flocked to the island for its cooler weather and reclusive environment. In order to preserve this quaint, rustic charm, many of the island permanent residents passed legislation prohibiting vehicles onto the island. This ordnance is still in effect today, which helps to preserve Mackinac Island’s historical character. Yet, before Mackinac Island became an internationally renowned vacation retreat, it served as a military outpost on what was then the American frontier. For much of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the island functioned small bastion against incursions from the British Empire to the north. This was especially true during the War of 1812, when Mackinac Island became the site of two strategically important battles for control over the Great Lakes. A small population of Native American and French-speaking fur-traders soon resided in the area, giving it a unique identity that was to last for decades. The military presence on the island never fully left until the end of the 1800s, when Fort Mackinac closed down in 1895. Visitors today can explore Fort Mackinac—now listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places—which is part of the much larger Mackinac Island State Park.


  • About the Architecture +

    In 1886, representatives from the Michigan Central Railroad, the Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad, and the Detroit and Cleveland Steamship Navigation Company formed the Mackinac Island Hotel Company. These individuals yearned to capitalize upon the nation’s growing desire for recreational travel, and saw Mackinac Island as the perfect place to construct a luxurious hotel. As such, the group hired the Detroit-based architectural firm, Mason and Rice, to design the project. Charles Caskey and his brother-in-law, Alphonse Howe directly oversaw its development, though. The team decided to design the massive five-story-tall structure with Queen Anne-style architecture, accented with aspects of Colonial Revival aesthetics. When construction concluded a year later, the building debuted with 286 outstanding accommodations. The Grand Hotel’s original owners later added on additional wings to the hotel in 1897 and 1912, which greatly increased the amount of the facilities located onsite. Among the buildings constructed around that time are a Superintendent’s Residence, a Carpenter’s Shop, a Powerhouse, a stable for 50 horses, and the Grand Hotel’s West Wing.

    The Grand Hotel has undergone a series of extensive renovations since the 1970s that have sought to modernize it while also preserving its rich historical ambiance. The Musser family added several new additions in 1987, such as the Woodfill Conference Center and the Cupola Bar. Special boutique shops appeared a few years later in the mid-1990s, like Astor’s Hair Salon, Rebecca’s, Margaret’s Garden, and Grand Hotel & Co., Fine Jewelry. The Mussers also developed a series of suites named in honor of prominent former First Ladies, such as Lady Bird Johnson, Nancy Reagan, and Barbara Bush. These suites were then joined by The Jacqueline Kennedy Suite and The Laura Bush Suite during the 2000s. The construction of these suite coincided with the addition of some 60 other guestrooms, which raised the total number of accommodations at the hotel to 393. Several of these spectacular accommodations reside within the Grand Hotel’s Millennium Wing or are among its fantastic Cupola Suites.


  • Famous Historic Guests +

    Thomas Edison, famous American inventor known for such inventions as the motion picture camera and the light bulb.

    Mark Twain, renowned author known for writing The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

    Jimmy Durante, celebrated comedian known for his roles in The Great Rupert and It Happened in Brooklyn.

    Esther Williams, renowned swimmer and actress known for her roles in Million Dollar Mermaid and Bathing Beauty.

    Arnold Palmer, legendary professional golfer responsible for winning 95 separate tournaments.

    Harry S. Truman, 33rd President of the United States (1945 – 1953)

    John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States (1961 – 1963)

    Gerald Ford, 38th President of the United States (1974 – 1977)

    George H.W. Bush, 41st President of the United States (1989 – 1993)

    Bill Clinton, 42nd President of the United States (1933 – 2001)

    Mark Twain, renowned author known for writing The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

    Jimmy Durante, celebrated comedian known for his roles in The Great Rupert and It Happened in Brooklyn.

    Esther Williams, renowned swimmer and actress known for her roles in Million Dollar Mermaid and Bathing Beauty.

    Arnold Palmer, legendary professional golfer responsible for winning 95 separate tournaments.

    Harry S. Truman, 33rd President of the United States (1945 – 1953)

    John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States (1961 – 1963)

    Gerald Ford, 38th President of the United States (1974 – 1977)

    George H.W. Bush, 41st President of the United States (1989 – 1993)

    Bill Clinton, 42nd President of the United States (1933 – 2001)


  • Film, TV and Media Connections +

    This Time For Keeps (1947)

    Somewhere in Time (1980)


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