If you’ve ever had the urge to quit your job in exchange for a quant cottage slow-living lifestyle, the Earl Young Mushroom Houses in Charlevoix Michigan may just have to be your next vacation spot. Tucked away on the shores of Lake Michigan and just a few minutes from downtown Charlevoix are twenty-eight “mushroom houses” that look straight out of a fairytale storybook.
They’ve been called hobbit houses and mushroom houses, and rightfully so, as each home features whimsical structures and natural building materials while blending in seamlessly with the surrounding picturesque Northern Michigan landscape.
Earl Young, a self-taught architect, was commissioned to build this neighborhood of unique and charming homes in the 1920s, shortly after the Great Depression. According to Edith Pair, the owner of Charlevoix Mushroom House Tours, Young had some curious traits.
He apparently collected many boulders from Lake Michigan that inspired the structure and materials used to build these homes. In fact, 12 of his structures are in the aptly named Boulder Park. It’s even rumored that Young’s short stature inspired the sizes of the ceilings and doors of the hobbit-homes.
Frank Lloyd Wright, a professionally-trained contemporary of Young’s, believed in architecture that flowed with landscapes. He pioneered these ideas in designs like Fallingwater in Mill Run, Pennsylvania. Whether Young was directly or indirectly inspired by Wright, it’s clear that naturalist blueprints are at the heart of his designs.
Each uniquely designed house features a horizontal cottage-like shape and natural structures like cedar shake roofs, wavy eaves, and stone walls, yet new owners have redesigned some of the original features. Some of the more well-known houses are below.
This home features a quaint thatched roof and is available for vacation rentals from the current homeowner.
Here’s an adorable guest house cottage with salt and pepper stone walls, a spiral staircase, and a rustic interior.
This unique home was made using large boulders from Lake Michigan, which Earl Young brought to the property using a team of workhorses.
As the name suggests, this quirky home looks as if it has been cut in half. The design is rumored to be due to Young’s frustration over property lines.
If you want to see these hidden gems for yourself, you can explore vacation rental options or go on a self-guided walking tour. It is worth noting that the mushroom houses of Charlevoix are all privately owned, so you won’t be able to explore the homes without permission ahead of time. These guided tours usually start at the Harsha House on the grounds of the Charlevoix Historical Society.
Whether you stay in one of these homes on your next cozy getaway or marvel at them from afar, these amazing homes will be a favorite sight for mushroom and cottagecore lovers alike. If you’re feeling inspired to make your own mushroom-inspired art, check out our mushroom embroidery tutorial.