Mugford Cottage
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Harbor Cottage Stories

The Mugford Cottage (By Cathy Stites, 12/09/08)

To the family, the cottage located at 341 Front Street in Eagle Harbor has always been known as the Mugford Cottage. Its been in our family over 100 years, since the early 1900s. Over five generations of the Mugford's descents have enjoyed the cottage and Eagle Harbor and grew up spending our summers here. For all of us, Eagle Harbor and the Mugford Cottage are magical places where we can escape from the real world to the pristine beauty of the Upper Peninsula and the good folk of the township.

Based on a review of the public records, the earliest recorded deed, which is hand-written, dates back to 1898, showing that the property was then owned by Mr. James Finn, who we do not know. Shortly after that the records show that the property was owned by the Calumet and Hecla Mining Company. Our great-great grandparents, Charles and Mary Mugford, were the first to use the cottage, starting no later than the early 1900s. They lived in Laurium with their nine children and owned a livery. Each summer, they would load up the family in their wagon and their horses, and walk out to the harbor. Originally, there were two mining company buildings on the property that the family used. In 1907, Charles Mugford had the cottage built for the family on the mining company property. The two-story cottage is approximately 1,065 square feet, with four bedrooms upstairs and one bathroom downstairs. At that time, the mining company would not sell the land, but instead leased it to the Mugfords for 50 cents a year. The mining company finally sold the property to Mrs. Mary Mugford in 1939 for $5.00, and it has been owned by the family since then.

As the mines closed in the 1940s and 1950s, most of the family moved to Detroit. Only Carlotta (Mugford), one of Charles and Mary's children, and her husband, Roy Bryant, were full time residence at the cottage, living there from approximately the late 1930 to the 1950s. In 1947, Carlotta and Roy built the original Eagle Harbor Inn, operating it for many years thereafter. Since Carlotta and Roy's tenure, the family has used the cottage primarily for summer vacations. Many retrofits and repairs have been made over the years, but always with an emphasis on preserving the original structure to the extent possible. The foundation, roof, siding, windows, and porch have all needed restoration, amongst other improvements, but the family continues to use the original Ben Franklin wood-burning stove and to enjoy the original fireplace. If you come by and visit us in the summer, which we welcome, you will see how the historic feel of the cottage has been preserved.

Over the years, the Mugford descents (now including the Horak, Stites, Rea, Dombrowski, Rylance, and Dauplaise families) have grown up with other township locals, making life long friendships with those lucky enough to experience Eagle Harbor. We've enjoyed the simple pleasures of the harbor-picking thimbleberries and blueberries, enjoying the beach, late night bonfires on the beach, the Fourth of July parade and picnic, the Popeye Run, the Pig Roast, scary stories on trips to the cemetery, roaming the Stamp Sands, and viewing sunrises from our front porch and sunsets from the Lighthouse. It is truly a special place, filled with extraordinary people and we are lucky our family has a small piece of it to call our own-the Mugford Cottage.

Cathy Stites' email is:

"Cathy, I've posted your cottage story. I very much appreciate your doing this. I hope others will encouraged to do the same.
At one point in my Eagle Harbor childhood, I believe my family rented your cottage. Also, wasn't it a gift shop for awhile?" (George. 12/09)

"Confirmed with my Aunt Marg (Horak) and my mom, Mary Stites, that the cottage was rented for many years, and used as a gift shop for several years. I hope your family enjoyed staying there. Please feel free to stop by any time you see folks on the porch. We love getting visitors. More often than not, it will be my Aunt Marg as she is up there most during the summer.
Iíve gotten lots of cool comments and questions from the article. Thanks again for posting it. I am encouraging friends to do articles on their places." (Cathy. 12/11)