Much More Than a Mill

Originally built as a grist mill, the current Weathervane Restaurant was converted to a dining establishment in the mid 1950s. It was designed by the famed local architect Earl Young, known for his curvaceous roof-lines and flowing architecture.

Stafford’s Weathervane Restaurant offers signature and regional cuisine in a relaxed atmosphere and is true waterfront dining, nestled along the busy Pine River Channel in downtown Charlevoix. Guests will enjoy unparalleled views of the water from inside, or choose Jeff’s Deck for the ultimate in outdoor dining.

Before the turn of the century, local farmers delivered grain to a four-story grist mill operated at this site on the banks of the Pine River.

Schooners docked conveniently to load on the flour which was then transported to other Great Lakes harbors. During the post-war years, when men and materials were once more available for civilian projects, Charlevoix realtor Earl Young acquired the mill and transformed it into a restaurant. The top two floors were eliminated and the new roof was fashioned after the curve of a gull’s wing. The building was faced with limestone and trimmed with Onaway stone from the local quarry. Young filled it with nautical memorabilia, some of which can still be seen throughout the restaurant today.

Characteristic of Young’s imaginative stone work is the glacial boulder fireplace built in the restaurant’s main dining room. Found by Young in the Charlevoix area, the 9-ton key stone resembles the northern part of Michigan’s lower peninsula. The meteorite lying at the hearth is only a quarter of the keystone’s size, but it weighs about the same.

The main bar is constructed of shipwreck planks weighing over two tons. Illuminating the Weathervane’s entrance are 150-year old street lights imported by Young from Copenhagen. The circular stairwell to the lower level is another testimony to Young’s creativity. He designed an intimate room among massive timbers and boulders, then opened the room to the outdoors, the channel and the Great Lakes beyond.

The Weathervane Restaurant became a Stafford’s property in 1988, although it was not the first marriage of the company’s founder and this particular business. In 1965 Stafford ran the Weathervane for Earl Young and although he expressed interest in buying it, the resources were not available to him.