Indian Dormitory, Mackinac Island, photo dated 1970.
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Indian Dormitory
Huron Street, next to Marquette Park, Mackinac Island - Mackinac County
Other Names Mackinac Island School
Property Type dormitory
Historic Use DOMESTIC
Style Federal
Architect/Builder Oliver Newberry
Significant Person Henry R. Schoolcraft
Narrative Description The Indian Dormitory is a rectangular, two-and-one-half-story, side-gable, frame clapboard house built on a high, coursed stone basement. The house is set into a steep slope, which exposes an additional story of basement windows on the facade. The entrance facade is fronted by a straight staircase over the basement entrance leading to a first-story porch that supports an upper-story balcony. The dormitory included office and living space for the U.S. Indian Agent and family and guest quarters.
Statement of Significance The Indian Dormitory was a significant site in the history of Native American relations with the U.S. government and later served as the only school for the children of Mackinac Island. The building was constructed in accordance with Article 7 of the 1836 Treaty with the Ottawa and Chippewa tribes, in exchange for the the cession of land. It was completed in 1837-38 from plans supervised by the U.S. Indian Agent on Mackinac Island, Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, and built by Oliver Newberry of Detroit. The dormitory functioned as the Indian Agency offices until 1846, housing visiting Native American representatives who met there with U.S. agents regarding treaties and disbursements. It was converted into the only school for local children in 1867 and operated until 1964 when a new school was built. In 1964 the Mackinac Island Park Commission restored the building and reopened it as a museum.
Marker Name Indian Dormitory
Marker Text INDIAN DORMITORY The Treaty of 1836 was one of the earliest attempts to consider the Indian problem in a humanitarian way. The treaty provided for "a dormitory for the Indians visiting the post." The building, completed in 1838, was designed by Henry R. Schoolcraft, author of the treaty. For ten years it served as a guest house for Indians, mostly Chippewa, who came to the island to receive their annual allotments. From 1848 to 1867 the building was used for a variety of purposes, including that of a U.S. Customs House. In 1867 it became the Mackinac Island School, serving in this capacity until 1960. It was purchased by the Mackinac Island State Park Commission in 1964. The building was restored in 1966 to conform with the original Schoolcraft plans.
Period of Significance 1837-1846, 1840-1964
Significant Date(s) 1837, 1867
Registry Type(s) 04/27/1966 Marker erected
11/05/1971 National Register listed
02/17/1965 State Register listed
Site ID# P24012