Side Streets of Mackinac Island – French Lane 6/29/2010

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!


17 thoughts on “Side Streets of Mackinac Island – French Lane 6/29/2010

  1. The gardens are so beautifully tended that one can almost imagine someone on their knees lovingly grooming them with scissors. Loved the tour.

  2. I absolutely love your blog and even though I just visited the Island 2 weeks ago, I cannot wait to go back when I see your pictures. I was exploring side streets when I visited and I picked this same road! I had a great time with the find and seek garden.

  3. The gardens and homes are so beautiful! How fun to get to search for the hidden things too! Thanks for sharing!! Happy Tuesday!

  4. If you only knew how many pictures I’ve taken of flowers along French Lane! It is a perfectly lovely place to slip away for a few minutes from the push on Market Street. And I’ve purchased most of my thank you gifts (for pet sitting and such while we’re on the island) at London Square. Lovely!

  5. I love reading your blogs, Bree. We haven’t been to the island since 2007, and I feel just that wee bit closer looking at your wonderful photos and the words that bring them to life.

    Thanks for keeping us in touch with our favourite place in the world.

  6. What a beautiful little walk this morning. Thank you so much. We will be on the island for a few days in September and we will have to check out French Lane. Anxious to know which side street is next!

  7. Brenda,

    Thank you so much for the special treat of the stroll up French Lane. I’ve always thought of the Windermere as one of the most beautiful buildings on The Island. It’s reassuring to me to see that it really hasn’t changed over the past 55 years. If I ever get back to The Island, that’s at least one thing that will still be the same. From the looks of Main Street on the webcam, I think there has been a great deal of change during that time.

  8. Hi Bree! Thanks for the nice response! It was so awesome to meet Jill and Nicole! I will definately see you next time!! I am still eating fudge today from the Island! Love that stuff!

    Beautiful pictures of French Lane. There is soooo much to see and do on the Island! I am still excited from my visit! Michelle

  9. Being a huge Disney fan, I love Dwight & Jeff’s fence. I had to take a couple picture on my last visit. Thanks for the pictures, they are amazing as always.

  10. Great tour Brenda!! I loved it, almost like being many times as we have been there I never noticed the Find and Seek Garden!! I am definitely going to check that out when we come up in August!! Thanks for a great visit…as always…awesome!!

  11. Beautiful! My relatives used to own what is now London Square. I have so many wonderful memories of the Island. Thanks for sharing this.

  12. This post is a favorite. My husband & I spent our 1st vacation ever without kids at Grand Hotel in Sept 2010 (our oldest was 8) and thanks to you, we found the find & seek garden. When we stayed again last August (this time with kids) I made sure we walked along French Lane so they could “discover” the garden. This year we are lucky enough to be returning on Sunday & also bringing my mother-in-law who hasn’t been to the island in MANY MANY years & has never stayed there. My kids are so excited & can’t wait to show Grandma the find & seek garden. Thank you so much for your wonderful blog!

      • Glad to know it’s still there. I told my almost 10yr old son about your grandson’s visit to the magic store & he’s added it to the MUST DO list. I wouldn’t be surprised if he asks to go as soon as we step off the ferry. Thanks again for sharing your love and knowledge of Mackinac Island with us.

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