House Crazy Sarah stumbled upon this unique place a few years back during one of her many road trips. She was actually in Charlevoix, Michigan searching for Earl Young “mushroom houses”.
Earl Young was a fellow house eccentric who built a collection of odd, dumpy-looking stone homes underneath wavy thatch-like roofs from the 1920’s through the 1960’s in the Charlevoix area.
Charlevoix has become known for these funky vintage homes and you can even take guided tours of Earl Young homes these days.
But a few years ago, House Crazy Sarah was just free-styling it when she stumbled upon this misshapen eatery on the canal, next to the drawbridge on Route 31 over the Round Lake channel.
She wondered from the stony exterior if this could be an Earl Young creation. Her suspicions were confirmed when she consulted her Mushroom Houses of Charlevoix book that she just happened to have in the car.
The place is officially called Stafford’s Weathervane Restaurant. So named for the whimsical weathervane popping up from the roof on the north side of the building.
The waving roof of the Weathervane Restaurant was apparently built to mimic the outstretched wings of a seagull in flight.
The south side has the coolest patio where you can dine and watch the boats come and go through the drawbridge.
The restaurant opened to the public in 1955 after several years of construction. Earl Young tore down an old grist mill along the canal to make room for his creation.
The interior is decorated in nautical theme, and much of the vintage kitsch was collected by Earl Young himself.
Inside the formal dining room, there is this GINORMOUS glacial stone fireplace, the likes of which you have only seen on the Flintstones.
According to Wikipedia, the Weathervane houses a total of five fireplaces; the main one in the dining room [above] is topped by a 18,260 pound (9 ton) boulder found by Young 26 years before. The boulder is said to be similar in shape to Michigan’s lower peninsula and Young felt the lines bisecting it looked like highways. At 18,260 pounds, the first time the boulder was put in place, the floor sank under the immense weight. No word on how they remedied that.
The building also has some other great features like this gnarly bar made from old ship-wrecked planks:
At the entrance, there are these fabulous 150-year old street lamps imported by Young himself from Copenhagen, Denmark.
Young also built a nearby similarly-themed hotel but suffered some financial troubles in the 1960’s so he sold off the Weathervane buildings in 1968.
If you’re ever in Northern Michigan, you have to check this place out – it’s a blast!