Earl Young’s Charlevoix Michigan “mushroom” houses

I always build the roof first, and then shove the house under it.” (Earl Young as quoted in the Ludington Daily News, October 13, 1971 issue)

image from: www.interestingideas.com/roadside/charlevoix/

Earl Young was an architect who lived most of his life in Charlevoix, Michigan - a small town on the shores of three lakes, including the mighty Lake Michigan. It’s not too far from where I grew up in northern Ontario. Earl’s way of giving back to his beloved community was to leave a lasting legacy of strange and adorable houses. He built unique homes in Charlevoix between the years of 1918 and his death in 1975.

image from: www.interestingideas.com/roadside/charlevoix/

Following the manner of Frank Lloyd Wright, who argued that houses should blend organically into their surroundings, Young designed each home to fit its site.  His signature style included liberal use of stone, including stone fireplaces, curved cedar shake roofs, and unusual chimneys that look like they come from fairy tales.

- from: charlevoixparkavenue.wordpress.com/guidebook/the-earl-young-houses/

photo credit: Mike Barton; image from: www.mikebartonphoto.com/photo/mushroom-houses

photo credit: Mike Barton; image from: www.mikebartonphoto.com/photo/mushroom-houses

These are my kind of houses – cute, cuddly, organic, overflowing with charm and character!

Earl Young was a visionary. His work as a builder/designer combined sculpture, nature, fun and whimsy…

image from: www.interestingideas.com/roadside/charlevoix/

He would take a common building style (such as the ranch-style home below) and Earl-ify it:

image from: www.interestingideas.com/roadside/charlevoix/

image from: www.interestingideas.com/roadside/charlevoix/

Stone never looked so dynamic!

image from: www.interestingideas.com/roadside/charlevoix/

The dripping chimneys (above) look like cakes decorated by my six-year old and my two-year old. Fun!

image from: www.interestingideas.com/roadside/charlevoix/

When I think of an “architect designed” house, I automatically envision angular, clean, sterile lines and modern designs. Then there’s Earl…

image from: www.interestingideas.com/roadside/charlevoix/

image from: www.mikebartonphoto.com/photo/mushroom-houses

The same house (as above) photographed from a different angle:

image from: www.interestingideas.com/roadside/charlevoix/

I just can’t get enough of these things!

image from: www.interestingideas.com/roadside/charlevoix/

image from: www.interestingideas.com/roadside/charlevoix/

Unfortunately, I was only able to find TWO pictures of the interiors of these Earl Young designed homes:

image from: www.mikebartonphoto.com/photo/mushroom-houses

Both highlighting the incredible stone work inside…

image from: www.mikebartonphoto.com/photo/mushroom-houses

The “mushroom” homes in Charlevoix are truly amazing. I can’t think of a better legacy to leave for your town than these special… creations.

image from: www.mikebartonphoto.com/photo/mushroom-houses-

You can learn more about Earl Young and his imaginative houses at the following websites:

www.absolutemichigan.com/dig/michigan/earl-youngs-charlevoix-cottages/

http://charlevoixparkavenue.wordpress.com/guidebook/the-earl-young-houses/

www.mikebartonphoto.com/photo/mushroom-houses-12/

www.interestingideas.com/roadside/charlevoix/index.html

Enjoy!

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~ House Crazy Sarah ~
Sarah Felix Burns

"So many houses, so little time"






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