After spending several days on Mackinac Island last week, I’m pleased to provide my 2011 list of ‘What’s New on Mackinac’ for your enjoyment. While not exhaustive, it’s a good indicator of what to expect that’s new...or no longer.
Main Street was still relatively quiet compared to summer weekends, but many school groups find their way to the island before the end of the school year. I managed to snap the photo below at a low in group movements, but don't be fooled, they were everywhere.
First some breaking fudge news. Kilwins has left the island. It was located near the Lilac Tree Hotel, and one of the only chain businesses located here. But don’t despair, a candy shop called ‘Velvet’ will likely be open in the same space by the time you read this.
Sanders Fine Chocolatiers has opened a second island location at the corner of Main and Astor Streets, opposite May’s Fudge. A t-shirt shop occupied the space in recent years.
Moving across and up Astor Street is Steven Blair’s studio, where he sells not only his great photographs, but mature Mackinac Island lilac trees ranging in age from 3 to 8 years. As far as I know, this is the only location on the island that real Mackinac Island lilacs are available for purchase. The lilacs closest to the camera in the picture below are three years old.
Back on Main Street, The Pontiac Lodge building, which included the Loon Feather, Balsam Shop, Haunts of Mackinac, Texas Turkey Legs and Central Savings Bank was sold late last year to Ryba Properties. The Loon Feather will stay, as will Central Savings Bank. Balsam shop will also stay under a lease. The empty corner booth in the photo below was the former ticket office of Haunts of Mackinac. (see more about them below)
Texas Turkey Legs, which was located on Hoban Street under the Pontiac Lodge has closed.
The Chippewa Hotel has a new facade that replicates the original that was removed during the winter. During the renovation, all the Main Street rooms received wall air-conditioners and new windows. The hallways were remodeled and many of the rooms redecorated with new furniture, bedding and paint. In the coming days, work will begin on extending the patio area of the Pink Pony to allow more seating on the waterfront.
Across the street in the Murray Hotel, the 3-D Maze of Mirrors has opened. As if finding your way out of a house of mirrors isn’t hard enough, this maze adds 3-D glasses to make it a real adventure that kids and kids at heart will enjoy. Take their advice, ‘walk slow and keep your hands up!’
Moving into Marquette Park, a bit of sad news. One of the towering Elm trees bordering Fort Street was cut down, no doubt in response to finding disease. While on the island last summer, I met the arborist who was injecting the trees with a fungicide to help protect them from Dutch Elm disease, but obviously one of these magnificent trees succumbed and had to be removed.
At the other end of Marquette Park, some great news. The new Mackinac Art Museum opened last summer and is worth a visit. Mackinac Associates receive free admission, but even if you have to pay the $5 admission, it is worth it! If you love Mackinac art, this is the place! I strongly encourage a visit to this wonderful tribute to Mackinac art through the ages.
Many of the trees closest to the Grand Hotel were also removed late last fall due to disease. Replacements have been planted and right now is a once in a lifetime chance to get a view of the Grand previously seen a century ago.
I’ll also mention that work on the new community stable, located across from Wawashkamo Golf Club on British Landing Road, is nearing completion. The large barn and arena will house 4H horses and for the first time in recent history, accommodate privately owned horses.
Lastly - and a bit of an oversight from last year, the Cannonball Drive-Inn at British Landing is offering hay rides from downtown to the Inn for a BBQ chicken and ribs dinner, finished off with a hot fudge sundae! Sounds yummy to me!
So there you have it, the highlights of what I discovered on my visit to the island May 18-21. Hope to see you on the island this summer.