The often irrascible but always brilliant "Mushroom Houses" designer and developer, Earl Young, added an invaluable architectural contribution to Charlevoix, MI, when he built his now-famous stone homes and cottages. Some are mansions; some are very small houses; all have unique features such as chimneys with "frosting," undulating roofs, marvelous stone fences, eyebrow windows and rolled rooflines, curved doors, huge boulders for fireplace lintels. Get a map of the houses and take a half-day stroll, often along Lake Michigan, looking at these houses and studying their features. Both the Harsha House Historical Museum and the public library have lots of information about these homes; learn about them first and then you'll know more what to look for. There is a charming small book of photographs and descriptions that has been published (available in local bookshops) that is also a good guide. There are three distinct areas; see them all: Boulder Park, the Park Avenue area, and the large homes on Thistledown (private) along Round Lake (best seen from a boat, but you can get a good glimpse of them by walking the walkway along the water in front of the Edgewater. For a couple of years on vacation we have rented the smallest of these mushroom houses; it is a charming delight. One can also take a tour of the exterior of these homes if you want to do it more formally. There has been only one tour of the insides of some of these; I don't know if others are planned.
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