Hemingway’s Petoskey

September 26, 2016

It’s the end of September and we are looking a head into October here in Northern Michigan and fall is finally showing her colors. Mornings are cool, afternoons are warm and breezy and the leaves are slowly starting to change colors.

Friday October 14th through Sunday October 16th celebrates the Hemingway Harvest Festival here in Petoskey. Hosted by the Michigan Hemingway Society, the festival features keynote speakers, tours, exhibits and readings celebrating Ernest Hemingway. Today on the bhttps://www.michiganhemingwaysociety.org blog I am bringing you 5 locations here in the Petoskey area that Ernest Hemingway frequented when he lived in the Petoskey area as a young man.

Grandpa Shorter's Ernest Hemingway's Petoskey

During his youth, Hemingway spent his summers at his family’s cottage on the shores of Walloon Lake, near Horton Bay. After graduating high school at the age of 18, Hemingway attempted to enlist in the military, but due to poor vision he was turned away. He soon accepted a volunteer position as an ambulance driver for the Red Cross. After several weeks at war, Hemingway was severely wounded by an Austrian mortar shell. After recovering, he returned to the states in January of 1919. He stayed with his parents in his childhood home of Oak Park, Illinois but soon became restless and wanted more. He traveled back up north to Petoskey where he had spent his summers growing up.

Although Ernest Hemingway’s time as an adult in the Petoskey area was short there are several places he frequented and favorited – 

  1. Staffords Perry Hotel, Petoskey Michigan – Hemingway stayed here in 1916 after hiking and camping throughout Northern Michigan with a friend. At the time room rates were only $0.75 a night!
  2. Flatiron Deli, Downtown Petoskey – During Hemingway’s time in Petoskey the Flatiron Deli was known as McCarthy’s Barber Shop. During the fall of 1919 Hemingway, back from World War I, frequented McCarthy’s for haircuts and the public bathhouse located in the basement. Hemingway’s novel The Torrents of Spring mention McCarthy’s Barber Shop by name.
  3. Horton Bay General Store, Horton Bay – Located only a few miles from his family’s cottage on Walloon Lake, Hemingway would often visit the Horton Bay General Store during the summer months. The store served as a hub for groceries, post office and social life during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.
  4. City Park Grill, Petoskey – Built in 1885, City Park Grill was then known as McCarthy Hall, which Hemingway frequented. During Prohibition it legally sold it’s patrons soda (and probably alcohol behind closed doors). Known as the Park Garden Cafe, it eventually changed it’s name in 1963 to City Park Grill. If you walk into City Park Grill today at the front bar entrance, there is a portrait of Ernest Hemingway above the bar on the left hand side. It is said that Hemingway often sat at this end of the bar jotting down notes and ideas for his stories.
  5. Jesperson’s Restaurant, Petoskey – A Petoskey favorite located right Downtown on Howard Street, Jesperson’s offers delicious homestyle cooking. Hemingway frequented Jesperson’s with local friends and the restaurant is said to be mentioned in Hemingway’s novel, The Torrents of Spring.

If you are in the Petoskey area any time of year, you might be interested in participating in a local Hemingway Tour from local business owner and guide Chris Struble. Chris is a local expert on Petoskey area history and provides some interesting insight during his tours.

This tour describes the Hemingways’ Petoskey connections while visiting places they would have known. It also explores how Ernest used his experiences here as inspiration for his first novel, The Torrents of Spring, and other writing via Petoskey Yesterday.


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