After the lumber industry was exhausted in the late 1800's, Michigan's leaders began to look for an alternative means of economic development of the state. In 1897, the Michigan State legislature enabled the formation of corporations in order to build resorts. In 1902, the Sunnyside Assembly purchased the land on the northwest side of Portage Lake that had formerly belonged to the Marvins. They changed the name of their organization to the Portage Point Assembly and incorporated it on January 31, 1902 under the special 1897 Act of the Michigan Legislature for building a resort and immediately began to build the Portage Point Inn on July 12, 1902. The building first opened for guests on June 20th the following year.
growth of a family
By 1914, the Portage Point Inn was served by the steamships of the Northern Michigan Transportation Company, providing direct service from Chicago, Illinois and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Mary B. (Mrs Frank J.) Hattendorf was the first of a large group of residents from the Chicago suburb of Western Springs to come to Portage Point. A widowed school teacher, she and her young son first arrived in 1914 and purchased two lots. She persuaded her closest friends from Western Springs, Harmon and Mary Watt, to join her for the summer. They purchased adjoining lots and were soon joined by other mutual friends from Western Springs, including Leonard and Anita Vaughan, Hugh and Nell Rollin, and the Arthur Brothers. Many others joined them over the years as following generations continued to make Portage Point their summer residence.
The last 10 years have seen a period of ups and downs, but the resort is on its way back to the top. With the recent purchase of the property by a forward-thinking developer, the rehabilitation plans for Portage Point Inn are in full swing. The next few years will mark great improvement for the resort, as facilities will be rehabilitated and restored to its former glory. New dining, boating and recreational facilities are all part of this master plan. When completed, the restoration will not only honor the historical architectural lines and design of its original architects, but will provide guests with a world class resort experience in the heart of Northern Michigan.