Earl Young & the Mushroom Houses of Charlevoix

Mushroom House in Charlevoix Michigan by Lee Rentz

Mushroom House in Charlevoix, Michigan by Lee Rentz

Visit Charlevoix shares the story of self-taught builder Earl Young & his “mushroom houses” in Charlevoix:

Starting in 1919, and continuing into the seventies, Young fashioned over two dozen creations using indigenous materials.

Over the course of his fifty-year career, Young would build twenty-six residential houses and four commercial properties. His works are made mostly of stone, using limestone, fieldstone, and boulders that he found throughout Northern Michigan. Each of these houses is individually different and was designed to blend in with its surrounding landscape. Earl Young’s houses feature his signature designs, along with wide, wavy eaves, exposed rafter tails; cedar-shake roofs; and a horizontal emphasis in design. These buildings are creatively known as Gnome Homes, Mushroom Houses, or Hobbit Houses.

Many of the homes are accessible within a reasonable walking distance from downtown; more can be seen by car. Downtown, Stafford’s Weathervane Restaurant and Weathervane Terrace Inn & Suites on Pine River Lane, and the Lodge hotel on Michigan Avenue are also his creations.

Head over to Visit Charlevoix for a self-guided tour map!

See more from Lee on his Flickr & also at his photography blog!

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Remembering MSU philanthropist Eli Broad

Another Night at the Museum by fotoman91

Another Night at the Museum by fotoman91

Michigan State University’s Broad College of Business dean Sanjay Gupta shares a tribute to billionaire alumnus Eli Broad who died last week at the age of 87, saying in part:

As a loyal Spartan, Mr. Broad has left an extraordinary and unparalleled legacy on the banks of the Red Cedar. In total, Eli and Edythe have given nearly $100 million to support MSU in a multitude of ways. From building the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum to supporting the College of Education, their impact has been significant across campus.

Nowhere has their giving been more evident than here in the Broad College of Business. Passionate about the MBA program, in 1991, Mr. Broad made what was at the time the largest gift ever made to a public business school. His $20 million commitment to the Eli Broad College of Business and the Eli Broad Graduate School of Management — both renamed in his honor — was designed to help the university’s new full-time MBA program emerge as one of the nation’s top graduate management programs. Today, that program is a top 25 U.S. public program that has launched the careers of countless Spartans.

The Broad Museum is a contemporary art museum and is open free of charge Friday – Sunday from noon to 6 PM.

fotoman91 took this pic last summer. See more in his awesome Night Time gallery on Flickr.

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Kirkbride’s beliefs became his buildings

2 Doors Down by Carolyn Gallo

2 Doors Down by Carolyn Gallo

CMU’s Clarke Historical Library says that on Nov 30, 1885, the Northern Michigan Asylum for the Insane opened in Traverse City. It’s now known as the The Village at Grand Traverse Commons and 10 years ago I worked there and was able to lead and was able to lead a group of photographers including Carolyn on a tour of the then un-renovated parts of what was known as Building 50. FYI, the section we toured is now the luxurious Cordia senior residential club

The facility was a Kirkbride Institution, designed by Dr. Thomas Story Kirkbride. Kirkbride was a Pennsylvania Quaker and founding member of the Association of Medical Superintendents of American Institutions for the Insane who developed a concept of treatment known as the Kirkbride Plan. This plan proposed a particular way of housing patients that included segregating by severity of mental illness and fresh air and natural light where possible:

It was believed crucial to place patients in a more natural environment away from the pollutants and hectic energy of urban centers. Abundant fresh air and natural light not only contributed to a healthy environment, but also served to promote a more cheerful atmosphere. Extensive grounds with cultivated parks and farmland were also beneficial to the success of an asylum. Landscaped parks served to both stimulate and calm patients’ minds with natural beauty (enhanced by rational order) while improving the overall aspect of the asylum. Farmland served to make the asylum more self-sufficient by providing readily available food and other farm products at a minimal cost to the state.

Patients were encouraged to help work the farms and keep the grounds, as well as participate in other chores. Such structured occupation was meant to provide a sense of purpose and responsibility which, it was believed, would help regulate the mind as well as improve physical fitness. Patients were also encouraged to take part in recreations, games, and entertainments which would also engage their minds, make their stay more pleasant, and perhaps help foster and maintain social skills.

There’s lots more from Kirkbride Buildings where the author has done some spectacular scholarship and created an excellent resource for these amazing structures. The Kirkbride System produced a photographic environment of uncommon richness that is evident in the photos from the group A little trip up north… It’s also reflected in the grounds and the shops, restaurants & businesses that are part of the Commons today.

See this photo bigger in Carolyn’s Photogs Up North gallery. You can learn more about her on her website or Facebook page!

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Looking over Michigan’s Capitol

Michigan State Capitol Building by Joel Stevens

Michigan State Capitol Building by Joel Steven

Michigan’s current state capitol building is actually our third. Michigan’s Three Capitols explains:

In January 1872, a plan (called “Tuebor,” meaning, “I will defend”) submitted by architect Elijah E. Myers of Springfield, Illinois, was selected. Myers moved to Michigan to supervise construction and lived for the rest of his life in his adopted state.

Construction began in 1872. When the cornerstone of the eagerly-awaited building was laid on October 2, 1873, a ceremony was held which rivaled anything Lansing had seen since becoming the capital a quarter of a century earlier. People thronged to the city in numbers far exceeding its capacity. Private citizens opened their homes and made preparations to feed and shelter the visitors.

Materials for the building came from all over the country and even from abroad. Although the millions of bricks that make up its walls and ceilings were locally made in Lansing, the stone facade came from Ohio, the cast iron for the dome and floor beams from Pennsylvania, and the marble and limestone floors from Vermont. The Board of Commissioners made sure the best materials were selected for the best price—wherever they could be found. The final cost totaled $1,427,738.78, considered modest for the construction of a state capitol during this period.

Read on for much more!

Joel took this close up panorama of the Michigan State Capitol building on June 19th. Check out more of his work on Flickr and for sure follow Joel Steven Photography on Facebook!

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Walking on the Moon: The Apollo Capsule in Grand Rapids

Now That Was Just Weird by Daniel E Johnson

July 20th is 49th anniversary of our first steps on the moon. The Mix 95.7 Grand Rapids tells the story of the Apollo capsule in front of the Grand Rapids Public Museum:

It turns out that the capsule is an actual Apollo Capsule, but it wasn’t a capsule that sat atop an Apollo Rocket. The capsule was made for training astronauts. But don’t let that news get you down, the capsule still has quite the history to it!

This type of capsule is known as a “Boilerplate” … built, along with dozens of other capsules, in the 1960s to test various systems on the Apollo Rockets. 

BP-1227 was lost at sea in early 1970 during a routine training drill to recover the Apollo boilerplate capsule by UK-based naval units. Later that same year, the capsule that was lost was miraculously recovered by a Russian “fishing vessel.” Many believe that the fishing vessel was actually a spy boat that was tracking the capsule as part of an intelligence operation.

The capsule was taken back to Russia and in late 1970 the Russians invited the Americans to recover their capsule. On September 8th, 1970 the US Navy Icebreaker, Southwind, made a stop in Murmansk to recover BP-1227. This was the first visit to a Soviet port by a US military vessel since World War II.

After the capsule was returned, the Smithsonian Institution spent the next several years restoring BP-1227 before it was eventually given on loan to the City of Grand Rapids in 1976. The boilerplate capsule was dedicated to the people of Grand Rapids on December 31, 1976. Students from local high schools filled BP-1227 with everyday items from their lives to form a time capsule. The time capsule was sealed on the last day of our nation’s Bicentennial year and it is to be opened on July 4th, 2076, as our nation celebrates its Tricentennial.

Read on for more. About the photo, Daniel wrote: We had a huge, odd cloud float over Grand Rapids today. Wednesday October 1st, 2008. HDR from one exposure shot in raw and split out three times , re-compiled in Photomatix.

See more in his HDR gallery.

Temple Beth El by architect Minoru Yamasaki

Temple Beth El, Study #01, photo by Brian Day

Temple Beth El was established in 1850 as the first Jewish congregation in the state of Michigan. Their history page notes that there were just 60 Jews out of a population of 21,000 at that time.

The Michigan Notable Book Michigan Modern’s page on Temple Beth El says in part:

Temple Beth El is located in Bloomfield Township, Michigan, on a low rise adjacent to Telegraph Road, a wide and heavily traveled thoroughfare. Mature spruce and pine trees are present around the base of the structure to shield the worshippers from outside distractions. The unmistakable design of the sanctuary incorporates a tent-like form to recall the “Tent of Meeting” referenced in the Bible and the earliest places of worship used by the Jewish people. The cast-in-place concrete structure consists of two pairs of closely placed sloped columns, or tent poles, supporting curved ridge beams at the top of the structure and tied together by elliptical ring beams at the structure’s base. Below the ring beam is a transparent curtain wall of clear glazing that gives the illusion, from the exterior and interior that the tent-form roof is hovering above the open sanctuary space. Between the ridge beams is a transparent skylight that provides natural light into the sanctuary and further emphasizes the “lightness” of the structure. Catenary steel cables suspended between the ridge and ring beams support the gentle curve of the lead-coated copper roof which soars some seventy feet above grade.

The administrative offices, social halls and religious school are located in a one-story wing that extends north from the main entrance to the sanctuary on the building’s west elevation. The Temple Beth El comprises approximately 112,500 square feet, and can accommodate up to eighteen hundred worshippers.

Read on for more!

View the photo bigger on Facebook where there are other photos in his Metro Detroit Modern Architecture Study and see more of Brian’s photography at brianday.org.

Double Stairs at Cranbrook

cranbrook-double-stairs

cranbrook double stairs, photo by GaryMB

Very cool shot from Cranbrook in Bloomfield Hills, a very unique center for education, science, and art:

Comprising a graduate Academy of Art, contemporary Art Museum, House and Gardens, Institute of Science, and Pre-K through 12 independent college preparatory Schools, Cranbrook welcomes thousands of visitors and students to its campus each year.

Founded by Detroit philanthropists George and Ellen Booth in 1904, Cranbrook’s 319-acre campus features the work of world-renowned architects such as Eliel Saarinen, Albert Kahn, Steven Holl, Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, Rafael Moneo, Peter Rose and sculptors Carl Milles, Marshall Fredericks and others. Critics have called Cranbrook “the most enchanted and enchanting setting in America” and in 1989, it was designated a National Historic Landmark.

It’s also a super-sweet place to take your camera for a walk.

View Gary’s photo bigger and see more in his slideshow.

Soo Geometry

soo-geometry-1-by-liz-glass

Soo Geometry I, photo by Liz Glass

Liz says she drove two-and-a-half hours last June to get a burger at the West Pier Drive-in (though she really went for the view). Check out her photo bigger and see more in her awesome Abstracts slideshow.

Political Reflections

upside-down-capitol-building

Political Reflections, photo by Matt Kazmierski

Whatever we feel about the outcome of this election, I think we can all agree that it’s nice to not have politics in our face for a few minutes.

View Matt’s photo bigger and see more in his slideshow.

Executive level in downtown Detroit

detroit-cityscape

Executive Level in the city of Detroit, photo by Dan Frei Photo

Follow @danfreiphoto on Twitter and view & purchase his work on his website.