Look Inside the Michigan Governor’s Summer Residence on Mackinac Island
Step into a world of history and grandeur this summer on Mackinac Island, for free!
The Governor’s Summer Residence, an iconic three-story Victorian cottage, has once again opened its doors.
Now you can see the historic residence that once hosted famous guests including Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, Gerald R. Ford, John F. Kennedy, and Harry Truman.
Tours of the Michigan Governor’s Mansion
Wednesdays in the summer, 9:30 – 11:30 AM
Running from June through August 2023, these free tours are available every Wednesday from 9:30-11:30 AM.
(Tip: Arrive early and get in line – the tours operate on a first-come, first-served basis.)
Once inside, you’ll move from room to room, with stationary guides giving more insight about each stop.
Enjoy the opulence of the living room, dining room, and enclosed porch. And don’t miss a relaxing photo pause on the front porch.
During our visit, a Girl Scouts troop was assisting the tour guides, taking photos for guests on the porch.
The complete tour experience usually wraps up in a breezy 15-25 minutes.
New this year: For the first time, tour guests can snap photos inside this beautiful residence – an exciting policy change for 2023.
A Look Inside the House
This white Victorian beauty stands majestically at the intersection of Huron Road and Fort Street at the top of the bluff on Mackinac Island, very near the Fort.
With 11 bedrooms and nine-and-a-half baths spread over 7,000 square feet, it’s as spacious as it is elegant.
The porch is the real show-stopper, in my opinion, offering breathtaking views of the Grand Hotel, Mackinac Bridge, and Mackinac Island.
And here’s a fun tidbit: The house has back staircases and a private entrance. So, even if the governor is in residence during your visit, you won’t even know it.
How it Became the Governor’s Mansion
This grand residence wasn’t always meant for governors. It started as a private summer cottage built by Lawrence A. Young, a prominent stock broker from Chicago.
Constructed in 1902, the house was made with a combination of Michigan White Pine and Georgia Yellow Pine.
Located on leased State Park land, it was one of the first cottages to be built as Mackinac Island transformed from a National Park operated by the military to a tourism attraction operated by Michigan.
After a period of disrepair, (World War 2 was not kind) the State of Michigan was concerned about the condition of the house given it’s close proximity to Fort Mackinac.
In 1944, the opportunity to purchase the house arose. The state scooped it up for $15,000 and initiated renovations.
The house became the Governor’s summer residence in 1945 – just in time for the annual Governor’s Conference in July.
Debunking the Flag Myth
Lastly, a little myth-busting.
Contrary to rumors, the State of Michigan flag flying at the governor’s mansion doesn’t indicate the governor’s presence on the Island.
The flag flies proudly every day, whether the governor is there or not.
Is the Governor’s Mansion on Your List?
So, there you have it – a peek into the rich history and grandeur of the Michigan Governor’s Summer Residence on Mackinac Island.
Will you be joining the tours this summer? We’d love to hear about it!
Drop us a comment below and let us know if you’re planning a visit, or if you’ve been lucky enough to experience this historic gem in the past. We welcome your thoughts, questions, and memories.