History of the Colonial House Inn - St. Ignace


The room name plates were hand-carved by a Great Lakes Captain while serving on a freighter.

The history of the Colonial House Inn may always remain a mystery as the many stories and documentation do not agree.

The Chamber’s family originally lived North of town and exchanged their farm with the St. Antoine for the house in town. Their mercantile was across the street where Arnold’s is currently located. They sold wood and coal to the steamers and horse supplies. Eventually they sold the property to Arnold’s ferry line. See the St. Antoine rock behind the Gold Mine.

The Colonial House Inn is also known as the Colonial House Hotel and John Chambers House. The house is listed on both the Michigan Historical Preservation www.mcgi.state.mi.us/hso/sites/9236.htm  and the National Register of Historical Places www.nationalregisterofhistoricplaces.com/mi/Mackinac/state.html . It states the older section, of the house was completed about 1870, is a two-story, rectangular frame structure with hipped roof and coarse stone rubble foundation. The front addition is a three-story, yellow-painted clapboard and fish-scale shingle building with a two-story entry portico supported by four columns which rest on a stone foundation. The place is listed as a vernacular example of the Colonial Revival style built by local builders, the front addition was completed about 1910. It also states that around 1910, Patrick and Michael built the front addition to reflect the acknowledged prominence of the family.

The Chambers House historic significance was as the residence of the John Chambers family, one of the pioneer business families in the St. Ignace. John Chambers Sr., a native of Ireland, arrived in Philadelphia in 1846. He and his family moved to St. Ignace about 1870 from Mackinac Island and constructed the two-story house for his family on State Street. His sons, John Jr., Patrick, and Michael, opened a small general store, built the first dock, and pooled their money to acquire large real estate holdings in the city. Michael rose to political prominence, serving as a State Representative and later Mayor of St. Ignace.

In 1945, relatives sold the house to a retired Great Lakes captain who converted the house to an inn from 1947 to 1978. The inn re-opened in May 1981 after extensive interior renovations.