DETROIT — Before Ernest Hemingway shuffled to Paris, Florida and Cuba, he made memories in Michigan that never loosened their grip on his heart.
His first wedding, his childhood memories of splashing in lakes, his early set of short stories — Michigan served as the backdrop for all of it.
Hemingway immersed himself in the Michigan lakes, woods and farms. The writer spent every summer in Michigan after his family bought a cottage and farm near Walloon Lake in Petoskey, according to Michael Federspiel’s book “Picturing Hemingway’s Michigan.”
Federspiel, who is also a former Central Michigan University history professor and part of the Michigan Hemingway Society, told the Free Press the Up North life gave Hemingway a break from his busy hometown of Oak Park, Illinois, directly next to Chicago. Michigan was an imperative place in Hemingway’s life, and his first generation of writing — which scholars often say is some of his best work — was set in Michigan.
As the summer season approaches, Hemingway’s Up North stomping grounds provide scenery, educational opportunities and a chance to walk in the famous writer’s footsteps. It comes as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just gave the green light for fully vaccinated people to travel domestically while abiding to CDC-recommended precautions like wearing a mask.
Here are some destinations inspired by Hemingway’s time and life in Michigan.
Carnegie Library building, Petoskey
In December 1919, Hemingway wore an Italian cape and uniform while speaking to the Ladies Aid Society about his World War I experiences, according to the Michigan Hemingway Society.
At the event, Hemingway met the Connable family, who connected him with an editor from the Toronto Star newspaper, according to the society. This started his career as a European correspondent with the paper.
The Petoskey District Library now uses the Carnegie Library building as a community meeting room space. The Petoskey District Library’s entire property is filled with beautiful architecture, art and educational activities for families.
To learn about the library, visit www.petoskeylibrary.org/.
City Park Grill, Petoskey
Before it was a Victorian-era pub, the City Park Grill served as the town’s local saloon and pool hall called the Annex.
According to the Michigan Hemingway Society, the Annex was popular during Hemingway’s time. He enjoyed playing pool at the saloon and watching the “bare-knuckle boxing matches in the nearby park.”
The Fochtman family managed the Annex, which legally sold soft drinks during Prohibition. However, the Michigan Hemingway Society said the saloon probably sold alcohol, too.
The Annex most likely served as the inspiration for the saloon in “A Man of the World,” and there are many ghost stories about City Park Grill’s building.
To make a reservation at the City Park Grill and have a chance to eat at Hemingway’s old saloon, visit www.cityparkgrill.com/.
Horton Bay General Store, Boyne City
The store was a mainstay during Hemingway’s adolescence. According to the Michigan Hemingway Society, Hemingway frequented the store often, and it served as the center of business and social life in the town.
The general store was built in 1876, and it’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Hemingway made references to the general store in his short story, “Up in Michigan.” The Michigan Hemingway Society also said the Horton Bay General Store inspired Mr. Packard’s store in “The Last Good Country.”
To visit the Horton Bay General Store, go to www.hortonbaygeneralstore.com.
The Little Traverse Historical Museum, Petoskey
In the 1960s, the Pere Marquette Railroad Station was converted into the Little Traverse Historical Museum.
The museum houses a “great permanent Hemingway display,” Federspiel said.
When it was a railroad station, Hemingway used it to travel between Charlevoix and Petoskey, according to the Michigan Hemingway Society.
To learn more about the museum, visit www.petoskeymuseum.org.
Stafford’s Perry Hotel, Petoskey
Stafford’s Perry Hotel in Petoskey is shown with a lovely rainbow hanging overhead.
Originally named the Hotel Perry, Hemingway was born the same year it was built, which was 1899. Federspiel’s book said the hotel is still in operation today, and it’s one of the last “great hotels in existence.”
In 1916, a young Hemingway spent 75 cents to rent out a room at the Hotel Perry, Federspiel’s book said.
Builders fully constructed the hotel out of brick, a response to fire hazards and fears, and the structure originally accommodated 150 guests, Federspiel’s book said. In 1919, the building’s private owners, Dr. John Reycroft and Dr. George Reycroft, almost converted the hotel into a hospital. However, city officials convinced the owners to keep the property as a hotel.
Stafford’s Hospitality purchased the hotel in 1989, and it’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places, according to the hotel’s website. Along with the historical aspect of the stay, the hotel is a 9-minute walk from the Petoskey City Marina
To learn more about the Perry Hotel or to book a room, visit www.theperryhotel.com/accomodations/.
Walloon Lake’s public access, Bay Township
The Hemingway cottage on Walloon Lake is private property, and there were issues with people vandalizing and disrupting the property, Federspiel said.
Hemingway’s love affair with Michigan’s north country began when he was a boy, when his family began spending summers in the Petoskey area, and extended into his early manhood years. Here, he fishes Walloon Lake at age 5.
Although Hemingway enthusiasts are unable to visit the writer’s childhood cottage, people can still visit Walloon Lake’s public access and boat launch area. The site served as Hemingway’s setting inspiration for “The Nick Adams Stories,” during the honeymoon scene.
In the story, Nick Adams and his new bride, Helen, begin their honeymoon by rowing across the lake to the cottage. This is essentially what Hemingway and Hadley Richardson, his first wife, did after their Michigan wedding in 1921.
There’s no marker indicating this is a “Hemingway tour spot,” and it’s a little more complicated to locate directionally. According to the Michigan Hemingway Society, Walloon Lake’s public access is located southeast of Horton Bay on Sumner Road.
To learn more about this location and its directions, visit www.upnorthtrails.org and www.mihemingwaytour.com.