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Welcome to Fort Mackinac, Michigan’s Oldest Building
June 14, 2021

Welcome to Fort Mackinac, Michigan’s Oldest Building

by The CE Shop Team

Follow Us Through Fort Mackinac

Located on Lake Huron in Upper Michigan is Fort Mackinac, the oldest building in the Great Lake State. A former British and American military outpost, Fort Mackinac on Mackinac Island is one of many timestamps that takes visitors back to the 18th century during the height of the British and American conflicts, where the fort was center stage of many battles. Despite these conflicts, the Fort Mackinac’s Officer’s Stone Quarters is the oldest surviving building in the state.  

Fort Mackinac Memoir

Originally occupied by the French in the late 1700s, Fort Michilimackinac on the Straits of Mackinac gave its occupants strategic control of the area. The Straits were a favorable location for a military post because of its position in the Great Lakes, a prime area in the fur trade, and its proximity to indigenous tribes, who were seen as allies. The Straits of Mackinac would be the scene of constant conflicts for control over the next 100 years. After the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1763, the British occupied the fort and reconstructed it using limestone, upgrading the French’s use of wood. At this point, the Officer’s Quarters were constructed, and they were built at least four feet thick.

Fort Mackinac
Source: Wikimedia

The outpost remained in British control throughout the American Revolutionary War and even after the United State’s independence in 1776, despite the terms of the Treaty of Paris. After this initial conflict, the fort didn’t stay out of the enemy’s crosshairs for long. The War of 1812 officially began in June of 1812 when the combined forces of the British and indigenous people attacked the fort, capturing it within a month. The fort once again stayed under British control even after a massive campaign known as the Battle of Mackinac Island began. Colonel George Croghan and his troops fought to take the fort back for America but ultimately lost the battle. All was not lost, however, thanks to the Treaty of Ghent. On 7/18/1815, three years and one day after the post had been captured, Americans regained control of Mackinac Island and its fort. 

The fort remained in use mainly for fur trading, though it also acted as a reserve post where troops would stay and train before deployment. In 1875, Fort Mackinac was added to Mackinac National Park, though Congress closed it 20 years later. In 1895 the fort and Mackinac National Park were both given to the state of Michigan, and the Great Lake State’s first state park, Mackinac Island State Park, was created.  

Real Estate on Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island is a small island located off the northwest tip of Mackinaw city in Lake Huron. It’s one of the few towns in the country that doesn’t allow cars, enabling residents to walk freely and bike around to their hearts’  content. The average home value in Mackinac Island is $444,061, much higher than the cost of homes in the 18th century. The architectural styles on the island span 300 years, from early Indigenous Peoples’ spiritual sites to Euro-American styles. For those interested in escaping traffic entirely or who really enjoy history, this 4 bedroom, 5 bathroom Victorian home is located on the west shore, which is the most tranquil area of the island.

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