Charlevoix Historical Society
103 State St., Charlevoix, MI 49720
If you’ve ever wondered where hobbits and the Vernors Gnome go when they leave the shire and go on vacation, I’m pretty sure I found their summer homes in Charlevoix. Some people call them the Mushroom Houses, and some people say actual munchkins live there. All I know is the only place you’ll see them is Charlevoix. And they’re all the work of one man… Earl Young.
From 1918 through the 50s, Earl designed and built thirty homes in Charlevoix, and they range from the whimsical to the bizarre to the spectacular. All this from a guy who dropped out of architecture school. These homes are unique because their designs are extremely organic. Some of the roofs appear to be melting, and they’re made completely from all natural materials and locally sourced stone.
Marsha Braun from the Charlevoix Historical Society took us on a driving tour of these beautiful homes, and we were amazed. They’re all privately owned, so you can’t go inside or on the property, but just driving by these unusual houses is totally worth it. From his famous “Half House” (which looks like Frank Lloyd Wright meets Fred Flintstone) to the magnificent “Boulder Manor,” his work is original, natural and definitely one of a kind. The homes are mostly southwest of town. The locals will help you find your way.
Earl Young may not be with us anymore, but the way he built these homes, they’ll be there for a long time for all of us to see. If you get a chance, take a tour of these gnome homes.