In 1875, about fifty percent of Mackinac Island's 2100 acres became Mackinac Island National Park, which effectively ended most private development. When Federal troops were removed from Fort Mackinac in 1895, the land became Michigan's first state park.
Some lots on the East and West Bluffs of the island, however, were leased by the Mackinac Island State Park Commission for the construction of summer cottages in the late 1800s. These Victorian "cottages" were built by wealthy Midwestern families. Given that they are all multi-storied with architectural elements including turrets, wraparound porches, gables and stained-glass windows, the term "cottage" is something of an understatement.
The 16 cottages on the West Bluff were built between 1886 and 1891 and reflect a variety of styles, including Queen Ann, Classical Revival, Shingle Style and Carpenter Gothic. They were all, however, built with Michigan White Pine.
While the cottages continue to be privately owned, the lots upon which they sit continue to be leased via the Mackinac Island State Park Commission. The leases insure that the architectural elements are protected pursuant to the Secretary of Interior's Standards for Historic Preservation and that additional private development is limited.