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The Magic of Walloon Lake

Beauty was readily beheld on the lake with the early 1900s displaying the most eloquent of architectural styles attributed to the many details in each hotel’s design. Vast wrap-around porches, delicate finials, and embellished woodwork could be seen at many of Walloon Lake’s resort hotels. Equal in beauty, one could see the care that went into the interior design for each and every place of lodging. Guest rooms, as well as parlors and dining areas, were all decked with the finest wallpapers, rich wooden furnishings, and floral patterned textiles.

But no building could rival the lake itself in its glory. Summer guests arrived to stay in the lap of luxury, while truly setting course for rugged trails, rushing waters, and starry skies.

Among many local spots written about by Ernest Hemingway, Walloon Lake in its early days was even more rustic a Northern Michigan vacation spot than it is today. So for every comfort found within the plethora of hotels on the shores, the surroundings and organic beauty stretching far beyond what the eye could see lent to a deeper connection, that many, if not most, travelers felt upon arrival.

Hikes and horse rides, sailing and paddle boating, playing in the natural streams, and watching the sunsets—Northern Michigan vacations were never quite long enough for those who could feel the magic of the lake.

How one developer singlehandedly saved the Village of Walloon Lake

Just a few years ago, the outlook was bleak for the once-bustling northern Michigan resort community of Walloon Lake.

The recession, years of neglect, a court battle over the village lakefront and a private stranglehold on the local water system had given locals little reason to feel optimistic about the future of a dying village located at the foot of a pristine glacial lake that Ernest Hemingway once called home. But a lot can change when money and motivation come to town.

Homeowners, township officials and others around the 9-mile long Charlevoix County lake have watched with some incredulity as a single developer from Grand Rapids has, in just three years, put the brakes on a decades-long spiral of disinvestment and rebooted the village as a destination.

Their success is largely credited to a collaborative approach that has involved significant input from local stakeholders — everyone from township planners and neighbors to the village old-timers who meet mornings at the general store.

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The 17 Editorial
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