Sunday, September 09, 2007

Huron Mountain Club: Ives Lake

The Huron Mountain Club, northwest of Big Bay in the Upper Peninsula's Marquette County, has been the subject of much local lore and speculation for the last century. It's a place that only a select amount of people get to see, let alone visit; the lucky few are either the long-time residents whose families have been club members for generations, or scientists who receive grants to study the local fauna. The area is rich in history and wildlife, and while the Club can be quite secretive, it always welcomes researchers. I've been lucky enough to have the opportunity to visit and stay at the club many times over the years, as my father, at the time, was studying the native insect species. Whenever we stayed, my family would be hosted at the Stone House on Ives Lake, perhaps the most beautiful area on the Huron Mountain Club's property.

Stone House

The Stone House sits right at the edge of Ives Lake, a glacial lake that is very deep and cold, carved out of the granite bedrock tens of thousands of years ago. The water laps at the stone walls of the cabin, and a porch encircles three of the structure's four sides. It is constructed from large logs hewn from the nearby hillsides, and granite taken from the area. The downstairs portion of the Stone House consists of a large kitchen and small dining area -- all quite rustic -- as well as a spacious area for researchers to work, a bathroom that once functioned as a darkroom, and a large living room. The fireplace in the living room, which is no longer used, has an inscription on the mantle that reads There is no defeat in truth, save from within; unless you're beaten there, you're bound to win. Bedrooms and bathrooms fill the second floor of the Stone House. Some rooms overlook Ives Lake; those are the very best to be in. I remember some mornings, where I'd wake up at dawn, and the gray of the sky matched the gray of the lake; the only sound would be the singing of the loons. The Stone House also has a basement and an attic.

Red House

The Red House sits next to the Stone House. Both were built in the early 1900s (the exact date escapes me at this time), although at this time, the Red House is not being used. Club members are, however, working to get the Red House restored so that researchers can use it (the Stone House, believe it or not, does get very crowded in the summer months). The building is structurally sound and looks relatively untouched since its last use -- a time that I'd venture to be the 1970s. Unlike the Stone House, the Red House features a more Shingle Style -type of appearance. Next to the Red House is the caretaker's house, and beyond that is the Barn, which, after being threatened for some time, is very much safe and is in the very best interest of the Huron Mountain Club.

Architectural Element

When we visited the Club in late August of this year, there were several changes to be seen. The structure adjoining the two silos had been demolished and the Oldsmobile inside was gone; the new caretaker had also cleaned up around the Stone House, improving the garden and moving two very curious architectural elements to decorate the pathway. He explained that he'd been in the field across from the barn when he'd found the two chunks of limestone (a stone not native to the area), decorated in the floral motifs of the Richardsonian Romanesque style. They had both most likely stood at the doorway of the barn that was once located where the field is today -- but where did they come from? Had Longyear purchased these elements in his travels and decided to bring them north? It's an interesting mystery.

One of these days, I would like to return to the Huron Mountain Club and continue a photographic survey of the area; the beautiful and rustic architecture is something that is very uncommon these days. The lack of paved roads and the banning of motor boats has kept the property peaceful and clean, and there seems to be a resurgence in interest among the younger generations of club members.

9 comments:

Jon said...

What a great series of structures. We (me and my family) need to cross the bridge more often.

Anonymous said...

PLEASE do return!!! Many of us in the UP have never got the opportunity to see this beautiful area. Please, please take many pix of the lakes and mts there and share with us! Thank you.

Katie said...

Is there any way to visit the club is you are not a member? I am a yooper but I have never seen this!!

katie989@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

Very nice pics of a great place to be! Here is a link to that Oldsmobile that used to live there..http://www.digitalimagecafe.com/viewPhoto.aspx?type=contest&id=292773
Good luck with your photography.

Anonymous said...

My parents & I stayed @ Ives Lake the summers of l950 & '51, before it was owned by the Huron Mt. Club. We stayed in one of the old farmhouses farther from the water, but one summer a girl about my own age was staying with her family in the Stone House, and as we become friends I spend a certain amount of time there. I remember that, as I was to enter college in fall l951 and the college required that one dive of the edge of the pool and swim a length, I taught myself to dive off the raft near Stone House. I love to swim, but as I've never liked diving, I perfected a racing-type dive, which was very shallow and meant that as little of me as possible was in that cold water. When I got to college, they told me that was unacceptable, and I had to dive more deeply before I could pass the swimming exam.

But what an unforgettable place that was! Deer grazing in the pastures at twilight, loons calling over the lake, and the wonderful surrounding silence.

wess said...

I stayed in the Stone House summer of '01 researching coaster brook trout through MTU. My room was the left set of windows facing the lake. I have to agree that the view is breathtaking. Truly a remarkable place.
It was built in 1901. The Club had a large centennial party on the grounds of the Stone House that summer and all the resident researchers at the time were invited.
The caretaker was in a bluegrass band and they would have live performances on the porch facing the lake - that was literally over the water. Occasionally, a few club members would attend the performances - always a lot of fun.

Tyler R. Tichelaar said...

I enjoyed reading this and looking at your photos. It brought back memories. When I was just a little boy, my grandfather, Lester White, was the caretaker at Ives Lake from 1971-1976. I have vivid memories of the later years, although I was only 5 in 1976. I memorialized that experience in my novel "Superior Heritage: The Marquette Trilogy, Book Three." I'd love to see more of your pictures. Glad to hear the barn is still there.

Anonymous said...

my relatives worked at the Huron Mt Club for many years. I got visit there as kid. My great uncle lived at Ives Lake after the Huron Mr club bought it. He was like a security guard to watch over the property. I visited him there several times over the years. i loved it out there,

CJohn said...

I was blessed to be a family member of the people who lived across the Ives. Walking the lake road early in the morning still rests in my memory, and the Stone House and the barn that housed the parallel bars. Fishing with my aunt and gazing across peaceful Ives lifts my spirit when I'm blue. Thanks for sharing the pictures...