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Earl Young Half-House

Earl Young Half-House

Mushroom House Tours, Walking Tour

The Half-House is one of the most beloved “Mushroom Houses” and one of the most recognizable.  Its beauty and intrigue has garnered it numerous awards for color placement of the stones, style and structure.  This house to me….represents everything Earl Young was trying to portray in his work and has all the attributes of the signature “Mushroom House” look.

The Half-House or Honeymoon House as its also called was built in 1947.  It was originally designed and intended as a surprise honeymoon getaway for Earl Young’s daughter.  Considering the size….the family lived there until they outgrew the house (after 2 children) so when people first see it…they gasp at the fact it could hold and house that many people comfortably….wow!!

The things that stand-out about the Half-House are significant….for instance….it looks like someone took a knife and cut the house in half.  A dispute over property lines etc. caused Earl Young to get frustrated and cut his original design in half directly on the property line of the neighboring house.  Thus getting revenge in a way only Earl Young could.  This shows a bit of his arrogance and eccentricities and allows us a deeper understanding of who he was as a person.

Also…the house looks extremely small.  It is….but it does in fact have an upstairs that can hold 2 twin beds.  How is that possible most people ask??  Well….when you look straight at the house from street level….you can’t see there is a drop-off that allows the house to have an additional level making it bigger than you think.  As you move down the street a bit….the house shows a completely different shape and design.  As all things in nature….nothing is perfect so no straight lines and edges here.

Also the roof has a distinct angle shape and wave like pattern that most people would think strange or a mistake.  Its not…it is how Earl Young liked all his rooflines.  First they had to be made out of cedar shake because that is the most natural material to make a roof out next to thatching (which he wasn’t any good at doing.)  Second….when  the roofers would try to be precise and exact and utilize what they had been trained i.e to have each individual cedar shake in a perfect roof pattern, Earl Young scoffed at this.  It has been said that he came back to the building site one day to find the roof with perfectly aligned cedar shakes…..he was so angry…he ripped the roof apart and took the shingles and threw them on the ground.  He then told his workers that that was how he wanted the roof to look……nothing was to be perfect as nothing in nature is perfect……get it??

Last thing to really stand out in the half house is the use of such large boulders.  If you take a good look at a lot of the mushroom houses…the smallest houses usually had the biggest boulders and the biggest houses have the small boulders.  Not true for every single house….but on a lot of them.  The color placement of the stone also won numerous awards as mentioned earlier.  To the naked eye…you may not notice but take a good look….Earl Young had to take precious time and patience to pick out the right size and color boulder to fit into each space.  I always say it was similar to putting a giant jigsaw puzzle together!!

Half House, Mushroom House Tours

The Half-House is now owned by a wonderful man from Texas named Bill Thoms.  He rents the Half-House on VRBO as a vacation rental.  Its defiantly worth checking into and on the off season…its a steal!!

The Half-House is one of the most popular to draw and paint with local artists and artisans.  It makes for great inspiration….many of these can be found at elements gallery, located at 211 Bridge St. in Charlevoix.  This is also where the tours take off and end.  Anyone who takes the tour gets an additional 10% off any Mushroom House merchandise (excluding “Mushroom House Books” by Micheal Barton.)  Makes perfect sense then to book your tour and come home with a souvenir!!

As always…thanks for your interest in a piece of Charlevoix history and lending your support!!  Please let me know if you have any questions!!