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McGulpin House on Mackinac Island Found to Have Been Built Way Back in 1790-91

New research done on the McGulpin House on Mackinac Island found that the structure – long considered one of the oldest residential buildings on the island – was built in 1790-91.

Zachary Merrill of Great Lakes Dendrochronology performed the research on the house, which is located on the corner of Fort and Market Streets but was originally on the east end of town, near the present-day Ste. Anne’s Church.

Merrill collected 38 samples from both the McGulpin House and Officers’ Stone Quarters, located in Fort Mackinac. Most of the timbers from both structures were made of pine. Two floating chronologies consisting of pine were created for each structure and joined together. This chronology was dated against five regional anchored chronologies. The regional master chronology resulting from dendroarchaeological work on nearby Beaver Island provided the best match, resulting in definitive proof that the McGulpin House was constructed in 1790-91.


“It is exciting to monitor the process of this scientific research,” said Steve Brisson, Mackinac State Historic Parks director. “We are thrilled that the data was available to get a conclusive date on the McGulpin House.”

The McGulpin House today is preserved as an architectural artifact, with the interior partially restored to reveal its layers of use. Exhibits, brand new for the 2023 season, tell the story of the house. There is also an interactive audiovisual program on the historic architecture of Mackinac Island. The McGulpin House opens for the 2023 season on June 3 and is included with a Fort Mackinac or Historic Downtown Mackinac ticket.

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