HISTORIC MICHIGAN TOWN: Lovells, in Crawford County
Lovells, is a small town in Crawford County, first settled in 1870 when Charles S. Brink set up a lumber camp.
Aside from the cool old buildings still standing is the old Douglas Hotel, also known as the Douglas House and the North Branch Outing Club. This impressive structure was designated a Michigan Historical Site in 2000 and a National Historic Site in 2001. The hotel was named after Thomas E. Douglas, who controlled both the hotel and the North Branch Outing Club. This building is located at 6122 East County Road.
Canadian-born Douglas came to Saginaw in the late 1800's to bookkeep his uncle's lumber mill. In 1893 he received an opportunity in Grayling to operate the R. Hansen Lumber Company. After a few years of experience, Douglas built a sawmill and general store in the area that is now known as Lovells.
By 1900, the population was up to 500. A fire destroyed the store in 1903, and Douglas decided to rebuild. Thanks to the ever-decreasing supply of timber, the lumber business was crumbling and in a few years the population had dipped to 200. So, in 1916, Douglas built the Douglas House and created the North Branch Outing Club in order to draw the tourist trade and keep money coming to Lovells.
His new "club" was intended to bring in the wealthy travelers and auto tycoons from Detroit, and it worked. Automobile moguls such as the Ford's, the Dodge's and the Nash's all became club members. Even Thomas Edison visited the lodge.
The Douglas House hotel closed in 1971 and Douglas's daughter continued living there until she passed away. The Douglas House was re-opened in 1996 and continued using the name 'North Branch Outing Club'. Its used as a sporting lodge and attracts many tourists and travelers every year.
The structure is a must-see if you happen to roadtrip through Crawford County. Plus, all the other cool old buildings just down the road from the hotel are fun to photo op.
Add Lovells to your next Michigan roadtrip!