Monday seemed like a perfect day to walk downtown and explore another island side street. When I reached the end of Cadotte, I turned left onto Market, and took the first right, which is French Lane. I walked all the way down French to Main Street so I could start at the Windermere Hotel and end at one of my favorite Mackinac Island gardens. Come on along, and I’ll walk you up this quaint little pathway – no carriages allowed, only pedestrians and bicycles.
At Main Street and French Lane sits the Windermere Hotel and the beautiful yard that flows around the corner.
The Windermere was built in 1887 by two banker brothers, Charles and Clifford Anthony. Used originally as a summer cottage for the Anthony family, the building featured a tower typical of lakeside residences of that era.
When Patrick Doud purchased the cottage in 1904, he converted it to a resort hotel. Doud, who was an island contractor, also built the Governor's Summer Residence. He eventually added a third floor to the Windermere Hotel, removed the tower, and added a sunroom.
The beautiful old trees inside the fence at the Windermere become frames for flower pictures.
On the other corner of French and Main is the Lake View Hotel. Built in 1858 by Reuban Chapman, it is one of the oldest continuously operated hotels on the island. After Chapman's death in 1860, the hotel was operated by his wife, Maria. In 1880, Chapman's daughter and son-in-law, Jeannie and Claude C. Cable, purchased the structure and later changed the name to Lake View Hotel.
In the 1890's, when Mackinac Island was becoming a resort mecca, the two large towers were added. The Lake View is home to Goodfellow's Chop House Restaurant, where dining is available inside or on a porch that overlooks all the Main Street activity.
This cute little house, with flowers happily blooming in the windowbox and the American flag proudly flying, sits just beyond the Windermere's back yard. I believe it is a private residence.
Moving on up French Lane toward Market Street, this blue house with the yellow door and yellow-striped awning sits on the left. It is very large, and I think it is used for employee housing.
Moving to the right side of French Lane, this great little rental cottage sits behind a white picket fence. Ted and I looked at this cottage once upon a time - before we bought - as a possible place to stay for two weeks.
Back to the left - I have always LOVED this little privately owned home, named appropriately "French Lane Cottage". It is so neat and clean and looks like a little doll house, with lace curtains in the windows . . .
. . . and beautiful flowers in the yard.
Back to the right side of the street (am I making you dizzy?), I believe this large white home is also used for employee housing.
This is the third white cottage on the right side of French Lane, all with white picket fences. This one is probably privately owned.
We're almost to the corner of French and Market Street. The green building on the right is London Square . . .
. . . one of my favorite island stores and where I bought a gazillion things the first year we moved into our condo - just ask Ted!
On the other French Lane and Market Street corner is the home of Dwight LaPine and Jeff Shaffer, who own London Square and whose backyard garden is one of my favorite stops when I'm in town.
Jeff is the garden designer, and during the winter, Dwight uses cuttings from the previous summer and some seeds to begin the flowers that will make Jeff's design come to life the next summer.
Every year Jeff hides different objects in the garden for visitors to find. The sign on the fencepost lets you know what to look for . . . .
. . . like this pumpkin . . .
. . . or a skull . . .
. . . or a ship!
Even sandwiched in between the two busiest streets on Mackinac Island, French Lane manages to project a quiet, peaceful calm all its own. I hope when you visit the island you take a few moments to find this little side street and enjoy the the hundred-year-old homes and the lush gardens. And make sure you go on that treasure hunt in Dwight and Jeff’s garden – it’s a great 15 minutes of free fun!