Philo Beers House
In the mid-1860s, Philo Beers owned all of what is known as block 2, which extends from Bridge Street on the East to the western edge of Hoffman Park on the west, and from Main Street (now Park Avenue) on the south to the Pine River channel on the north.
Mr. Beers, the builder and second keeper of the Cat’s Head lighthouse on the Leelanaw, as well as a U.S. Marshall and a state legislator, moved to Charlevoix with several of his adult children. The picture at the left is an artist’s depiction of what the original Cat’s Head lighthouse may have looked like. See the website that talks about that lighthouse and Beers: http://www.terrypepper.com/lights/michigan/gdtravers/gdtravers.htm.
In 1865 Beers built his homestead [see Charlevoix Sentinel, November 30, 1870], which stands today, and is the oldest surviving building in Charlevoix. You will find it at 103 Park Avenue — home of Roquette Burger Bistro. Mr. Beers conducted business in this location as well. He was one of the first postmasters of Charlevoix (“mail from the South on Tuesdays and Saturdays, from the North on Monday and Friday”), the Probate Judge, and a druggist. In the 1870 census, Mr. Beers listed his daughter Harriet Beers, his daughter Lennie (Magdalena) Beers Ingalls, and her one-year-old son Almon Ingalls as residents of the house. Almon’s father, also Almon Ingalls, had died one month before little Almon’s birth. Shortly after the census, the baby died as well.
By 1870 Mr. Beers was ill with “rheumatism” and a new postmaster was named. The post office was moved across Bridge Street to the offices of the Charlevoix Sentinel, the new “Republican newspaper” for a “Democratic town”, founded in 1869 by Williard Smith. Beers died in 1872, but his estate wasn’t settled until 1879, perhaps because there wasn’t a new Probate Judge.
An estate sale at the courthouse was attended by a number of eager locals, and block two was subdivided and sold to various pioneers. The only structure on the block at that time was the Philo Beers house. It was sold, along with 1/3 of the block, reaching all the way to the channel, to a Mr. Bartholomew.
Several years later, Bartholomew built a large store with an auditorium on its second story, at the southwest corner of Bridge St. and Main St. The building eventually burned to the ground, but in its heyday the auditorium sat 600 people.
Bartholomew sold the Philo Beers house and the land to Lousia See, wife of Byron See, who had purchased the corner lot at Bridge and Main at Beers’s estate sale. See built a grocery store on the corner lot, and it burned in 1906. A new building was constructed, and today it houses Truffles Patisserie.
The Sees sold the Beers house and the corner lot to Emma and Geik Geiken. Geiken was a prominent fisherman and tug boat operator. Over the years the house has had a number of occupants, both families and businesses, many of whom had interesting stories, which we will relate at a later time.
One use of the building deserves mention, however. Jane Coleman Stanley (nee Jane Caroline Mahon), notable water colorist, once exhibited her work in the “little house with the yellow doors.” The doors of the building have been painted yellow again, to honor Stanley. Her work can be found at the Belvedere Club. The Historical Society also owns some of her paintings. A book about her, written and privately published by her daughter, Alice Stanley Acheson, can occasionally be found on eBay. Ms. Acheson was a painter in her own right, born in Charlevoix, and married to Dean Acheson, President Truman’s Secretary of State.
Copyright 2011 by Charlevoix County History Preservation Society. All rights reserved.
Comment by John B. Ten Eyck, June, 2009:
In regards to Philo Beers: I am a distant cousin through his dau., Lucy A., 1832-1911, who married Robert Carlyle, 1831-1909. Hattie and Lucy travel between frequently between their homes in Rockford, Kent Co., and Charlevoix. It appears that Philo’s wife was one Magdelena Pittenger of New York, hence the last child, born was named Magdelena. Mother “Lena” died giving birth in 1848. Her grave site is unknown, however it was a custom of the times that the burial is most likely on the old homestead in Courtland Twp., Kent Co.,MI
The Carlyle family dates back to the 13th century and before. What is known that one William Carlyle married the younger sister, Margaret, of the Robert Bruce that was made famous in the Mel Gibson movie “Braveheart.”
A comment provided by John B. Ten Eyck, December, 2009:
The history of the Carlyles dates back to the 11th century in Scotland. They were always “players” in the great battles for Scottish independence, but never played major roles.
The village of Terregles, Kirkcudbrighshire, Scotland, where Robert Carlyle, 1831-1909, the husband of Lucy Ann Beers, 1832-1911, dau. of Philo, was born, temporarily housed Mary Queen of Scots. She was also Queen of France and thus the one of the Carlyle’s Royal connections as the Carlyles are connected to the current Royals of England.
Even today the Scots show polite contempt for British rule, and call Prince Charles, “the Scottish Royal Pretender.”
Thank you for publishing the photos of Philo, which will be sent to Rockford, Mich. Historical Society in my next “Carlyle Biographies” along with the Carlyle research found on my recent trip to Scotland.