Surrounded by wooded hillsides, Harbor Springs overlooks a beautiful natural harbor formed by the projection of Harbor Point across the northern part of Little Traverse Bay. The area was a summer village for Ottawa and Chippewa. Here, in 1829, Father Peter de Jean founded the mission of the Holy Childhood of Jesus ( EM8). The village was incorporated in 1881, the city in 1932. Its early economy depended on lumbering, but tourism rapidly developed in the 1870s with the arrival of trains and steamers. City dwellers were attracted to the exquisite scenery, crisp northern climate, and cold-water springs.
Superb examples of Shingle Style resort architecture—hotels, summer houses, and clubhouses—remain in the Harbor Point, Wequetonsing, and Roaring Brook resort associations in the Harbor Springs vicinity. Many buildings were designed by Earl H. Mead (1871–1936), who moved here from Lansing in 1898 and practiced throughout the early twentieth century. But other buildings, including the high school (1914–1915; 2004–2005 rehabilitation, GMB Architecture-Engineering) at 327 E. Bluff Street, the Methodist church (1913–1914) at 343 E. Main Street, and commercial buildings, were also planned by Mead. Fuller-Nichols, Robert B. Sears, and others continue traditional house design.
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