Burnett House

The Burnett House

The property at 104 Park Avenue, currently the site of Pine River Books, LLC, was owned by some of Charlevoix’s most active, entrepreneurial, and eccentric community leaders.   As your “prowl” of Park Avenue draws to a close, we will take the opportunity to let you know a bit more about them.

John S. Dixon

The land was platted (lot 3, block 6) by John S. Dixon, reputedly Charlevoix’s second pioneer.  Dixon owned a large farm centered around his home on what is now Mercer Blvd., near the old train station.  Dixon and his wife Phebe were graduates of Oberlin College in Ohio and married in 1846.  They passed through the troublesome times with the Mormons during which Dixon was hung in effigy and removed his family to Northport for a year until the situation calmed.  Mrs. Dixon taught in Charlevoix’s first school, located on the Morris J. Stockman farm where the Belvedere Resort was later constructed.

Dixon’s achievements were many: farmer, surveyor, developer, organizer of Charlevoix’s first Sunday School, active in the Charlevoix Literary Society, Superintendent of county and township schools, County Clerk, first President of the Charlevoix Historical Society, Vice President of the Old Settler’s Association, and presumed anonymous newspaper correspondent.  Dixon had a long and prosperous life.

Dixon sold the property at 104 Park Avenue (then called Main Street) to another Charlevoix pioneer, Morris J. Stockman, in 1869.

Morris J. Stockman

Stockman arrived in Charlevoix in 1857 and was, at various times, a farmer, fisherman, and merchant.  Stockman was a far-sighted man of unusual energy.  He was a large property owner, including a farm where the present day Belvedere Resort is located.  In addition to farming, he engaged in the fishing business, which he abandoned in the spring of 1872 in favor of operating a hardware store on Bridge Street, erecting one of the earliest brick stores in 1880.  Stockman owned interests in several boats, including the Gazelle and the Clara Belle, steamers purchased in Buffalo, N.Y., which afforded transportation for people and freight in the Charlevoix and Pine Lake (now Lake Charlevoix) region.

Stockman was an organizer and officer in Charlevoix’s GAR Post (1883), having served as the only Michigan man in the 5th Independent Company of Ohio Sharpshooters during the Civil War.  He organized a large reunion of the Charlevoix County Soldier’s and Sailor’s Association in 1891.

In 1881 Stockman purchased telephone equipment and was instrumental in establishing telephone communications in Charlevoix.  In later years Stockman traveled to Florida, via New Orleans, on a hunting expedition and vacation.  He was an active hunter.  In 1893 it was reported that he went to the Chicago World’s Fair.

Jackson Ingalls (Ingles)

By 1876 the property had passed to Jackson Ingalls, who was County Treasurer in the early 1870s and was active in the Masons.  For more information about Ingalls, see the Guidebook section about the Jackson Ingalls house.

Barnabas H. and Mary J. Whitman

The Whitmans acquired the property at 104 Park Avenue in 1880.  Barnabas was a religious leader and Chaplain of Charlevoix Lodge 282 (Masons) and Mary was active in the Charlevoix Lodge of Good Templars.  Rev. Whitman may have been a pastor in one of Charlevoix’s early churches.

Robert Elston

The Whitmans sold to Robert Elston in 1891.  Elston was surely one of Charlevoix’s most eccentric entrepreneurs.  In 1895 Elston designed and built an electric wagon weighing 1,000 lbs. and capable of operating up to 9 hours.  It carried a driver and two passengers at a speed of 12 mph on a level road.  It was hoped that the Elston Electric Road Wagon would develop into a Charlevoix industry but Charlevoix never developed as the automobile capitol of the world.  Elston apparently replaced his electric drive with a gasoline engine in later versions of his vehicle, which was entered in a Milwaukee-to-Chicago race.

Elston traveled widely, including a trip to Europe in 1890 and to Chicago in 1893.  By 1901 he was the owner and operator of the Hotel Elston located on Bridge Street, where the Oleson’s shopping plaza is located.

John S. Baker

Elston sold to John S. and Martha Baker in 1893.  Baker, formerly of Grand Rapids, had moved to Charlevoix in 1889 to work with his father in a blacksmith shop.  Baker must have been friends with Elston as they left for a trip to Europe on the steamship Majestic from New York City on August 6, 1890.  Baker was active in the Charlevoix Driving Park Association (Director and Treasurer) and was one of Charlevoix’s visitors to the Chicago World’s Fair.  By 1899 Baker was building a summer hotel on West Dixon Avenue, overlooking Lake Michigan.  The Beach Hotel operated successfully for many years.

A. T. Burnett

A. T. Burnett acquired 104 Park Avenue from Baker in 1900.  Though research is continuing, it is believed that the current building, replacing an earlier structure, was built by Burnett and his wife Sarah between the years of 1907 and 1912.  Sarah was active in the Congregational Church and was elected its representative to the Women’s Christian Temperance Union in 1905.

On Sarah’s death around 1915, the property passed to the Burnett children.

Nellie Hinchey

Nellie Hinchey acquired 104 Park Avenue from the Burnett heirs in 1917.  Research to date has not supplied information about Ms. Hinchey.

Fred S. Myers

Fred S. Myers and his wife, Alpha, acquired 104 Park Avenue from Nellie Hinchey in 1923.  They Myers family owned the property until 1954.  Alpha apparently survived Fred and sold the house to Ralph and Rhea Hess in 1954.

Ralph and Rhea Hess

Ralph Hess was the owner and operator of a furniture store (“See Hess and Buy for Less”) at the corner of Park Avenue and Bridge Street, where Simonsen Bakery and Cafe and Gliks are currently located.

John F. and Lottie Rathburn

The Rathburns purchased from the Hesses in 1962.  Lottie was born in Marion Township, Charlevoix County, in 1905, and worked for the Charlevoix Courier print shop in the 1940s.  She married John in 1948 and together they owned and operated Rathburn Printing from 1950 until John’s death in 1964.  Lottie sold the print shop and retired in 1968.

Mary Feindt

Lottie Rathburn and her daughters sold 104 Park Avenue to Mary Feindt in 1984.  Mary Feindt was a pioneer in women’s surveying (the property having come full circle and again being in the hands of a Charlevoix surveyor) and operated a land title business.  Feindt was a licensed professional engineer having a master’s degree from the University of Michigan.  She served on the Michigan State Board of Land Surveyors and received manhy awards and honorary memberships for her service in the surveying profession.  She was active as a liaison between the surveying and land title professions.  For many years she served as the Charlevoix County Surveyor and was active in the Charlevoix Chamber of Commerce and the Charlevoix Downtown Development Authority.  She owned and managed the Charlevoix Abstract & Engineering Company, known today as Advanced Geomatics, from 1944 until her death in 2003.

Rosemary Fordell

Rosemary Fordell acquired the property on a land contract from Mary Feindt in 1996.  During her ownership the property was operated for some time as a small bed and breakfast.  Rosemary died in 1999 and the property was reacquired by Mary Feindt until it was purchased by its current owner, Park Avenue Development, LLC.

Park Avenue Development, LLC

Park Avenue Development, LLC, purchased the property in 1999 and it was leased for a number of years by GMAC, which operated a mortgage business and mortgage closing offices on the premises.  It was leased to the current occupant, Pine River Books, LLC, in January, 2007.

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


One Comment on “Burnett House”

  1. Janet Williams says:

    I have just enjoyed reading about the property at 104 Park Avenue. This was my home for many years. I am the daughter of John and Lottie Rathburn and John and Lottie bought the house from the Fred Myers family in 1954. We moved in there the Fall of 1954 at the start of my senior year in high school. I do not believe the Hess’s ever owned this house.
    Thank you for a fun tour and I think your Park Avenue Prowl is a great idea.
    Janet Williams


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