With mystery solved, Mackinac Island opens new exhibit telling story of its oldest downtown building

What’s happening: Mackinac Island’s oldest downtown building-turned-museum is kicking off the summer season with brand new exhibits – ones that better tell the story of the centuries-old building, says Jack Swartzinski, Interpretation Coordinator for Mackinac State Historic Parks. The McGulpin House – along with the island’s American Fur Co. Store & Dr. Beaumont Museum, as well as the British Landing Nature Center – opened for the summer season on Saturday, June 3.

What it is: The McGulpin House was built in the late 1700s and was moved to its current downtown location at Fort and Market streets during restoration work in 1982. The once-private residence of the McGulpin family serves as a rare example of early French Canadian architecture and a peek into how a working class family – William McGulpin was a bread-baker – of the fur trading era lived. The specifics of the building’s initial construction and location have been debated over the years, but Swartzinski says the new exhibit will better answer some of those longstanding questions.

Why it’s important: “It is the oldest structure of all our downtown buildings, constructed in the fall of 1791. We were able to determine that from a dendroarchaeological analysis done last year, and it is really a prime example of a regular family home on Mackinac Island,” says Swartzinski.

“McGulpin House will feature a whole new set of exhibits with a lot more information,” he adds. “A lot more accurate information regarding the origins of the house and its importance to the history of the island.”

That’s not all: In addition to the McGulpin House, both the British Landing Nature Center and the American Fur Co. Store & Dr. Beaumont Museum opened for the season on Saturday, June 3. The former offers exhibits on the flora and fauna of the island, and the latter tells the story of both the site’s unique history in modern medicine and also its place in the fur trading industry.

Mackinac Associates, the friends group to Mackinac State Historic Parks, helped fund the new exhibits at both the McGulpin House and the American Fur Co. Store & Dr. Beaumont Museum.

What they’re saying: “The Beaumont Museum (inside the American Fur Co. Store) actually just got a whole revamp in those main exhibit spaces just last year," Swartzinski says. “So downtown we have brand new or relatively new exhibits.”

Visit Mackinac State Historic Parks online to learn more about these and other exhibits.

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