300 Park Ave

This house was once the home of Harvey Lee Iddings, elected Charlevoix’s first mayor in 1905.  Mr. Iddings owned a hardware store downtown.  He was reported to have stood in a window with a telescope watching for the ships delivering his goods to come in from Lake Michigan.

Local builder Earl Young bought it in 1944, named it “The Pines,” and remodeled it in 1961-1962 with the addition of much stonework.

Author Bill Ratigan and his family lived here when they first arrived in Charlevoix shortly after the end of World War II.  Mr. Ratigan, while working in Hollywood as an editor for NBC radio news during the war, had written to realtors up and down the Lake Michigan coastline regarding the availability of rental properties with a Lake Michigan view.  Earl Young was the only realtor who responded to his inquiry, and the Ratigans moved in a few months later.

Ratigan’s daughter, who still summers in a different home on the Park Avenue Prowl, tells us an interesting story about their time in the house, which they called “The Spider House” and not “The Pines.”  When the family arrived in February, they found the house without heat.  Apparently Young had failed to inform them of this slight deficiency.  They quickly made the decision to move across the street to a rooming house/tea room, and later bought another house nearby.

Copyright 2011 by Charlevoix County History Preservation Society.  All rights reserved.

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2 Comments on “300 Park Ave”

  1. Mary Johnson says:

    We rented this house from Earl Young in the winter of 1961 or so. (My father, Don Johnson, was office manager for Bechtel while building the Big Rock Point power plant.) There was an enclosed porch with an old decaying player piano in it; 4 bedrooms upstairs; a sewing room, etc. My room had blue wall paper and its own sink; I could crawl out the window onto the roof, and frequently did. (It’s on the right in the picture.) My sisters had the room next door with the little turret; they held tea parties there. My brothers had the room on the left of the picture; it was ell shaped.

    There was a concrete root cellar (fallout shelter?) in the yard, and it had a kerosene lamp we would light.

    We left the house mid-winter because the pipes were banging so loudly. At the time, Mr. Young was working on his boulder neighborhood; I remember the house with three chimneys.

    Hope this helps!

  2. Rae says:

    I spoke recently with Pat Ratigan Ranger, who supplied more information about the home she moved into as a child. The family arrived in February, to find that the home Mr. Young promised them was without a furnace or running water. They moved instead into rooms on the second floor of another building on Park, known then as “Dean’s Tea Room.” They lived there for several months, and then into the home Young had promised, and which they dubbed “the spider house.” It acquired the more attractive name a few years later.

    They moved out of the home and into another a couple of blocks from the water, and then finally back into the building that had been Dean’s Tea Room, which is owned today by Pat and her husband.


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