2007-06-16 / News

Tree Hits 100-year-old Island Building During Thunderstorm

By Karen Gould

A Norway Maple fell on Mackinac Island's La Change Cottage shortly before 1 a.m. Friday, June 8, when a brief thunderstorm moved through the area. A Norway Maple fell on Mackinac Island's La Change Cottage shortly before 1 a.m. Friday, June 8, when a brief thunderstorm moved through the area. "Just a big shudder," was the only indication Michelle Dean had when a thunderstorm toppled a large Norway maple onto La Chance Cottage on Mackinac Island Friday, June 8, breaking windows, porches, and the roof of the century-old structure. Arriving shortly before 1 a.m., the brief storm also felled tree branches at the Grand Hotel golf course and along Huron Road, where a fence was damaged.

No one was hurt at the building formerly known as La Chance Cottage, said Ms. Dean, the general manager for Harbour View Inn, which now includes La Chance as part of its complex. She was in the building when the tree hit. The six guests staying at the hotel were moved to the Harbour View Inn. The building is on the north side of Main Street in the Mission District.

Having opened for the season eight days before, La Chance Cottage now will remain closed until repairs are completed, said Ms. Dean.

Wind recorders at the Mackinac Bridge peaked at 61 miles per hour that evening, but the storm was brief.

La Chance Cottage was purchased last August by Michael Bacon, who also owns the Harbour View Inn. Both buildings are on Main Street in the Mission area. Interior remodeling was completed over the winter, including the addition of private baths in each of the 19-guest rooms, which previously shared bathrooms.

The night before the storm hit, Dr. Bacon held a barbecue at the hotel to thank the 30 crew members who completed the interior projects in time for the hotel's May 30 opening, said Alan Sehoyan, construction project manager.

"We worked all winter," he said as he looked at the damage to the front of the building.

Outside remodeling work that was scheduled to begin this fall likely will be moved up to become part of the repair work, said Mr. Sehoyan.

Dr. Bacon had received Planning Commission approval in May to align the three streetside balconies. All received damage from the falling tree. Plans also included work on the east side of the building, including the addition of a fourth dormer and removal of an unused brick chimney.

Building inspector Dennis Dombroski was at the site early Friday morning. For safety reasons, he asked Mr. Sehoyan to have workers remove loose siding, porch rails, glass from broken windows, and other materials. He said broken windows should be boarded over and a temporary tarp be placed on the roof to minimize any additional interior damage. The building did not lose power during the storm.

Return to top

Click here for digital edition
2007-06-16 digital edition