Michigan’s Vintage Boarding Houses, 1900-1939: The Original “Bed & Breakfasts”
When I hear the term "boarding house" I usually think of the old TV and movie westerns where they have to put up a kid or lady in a place to sleep. The cowboys always got to sleep in the livery stables, brothel, or a seedy hotel...but for women and kids, it was the 'boarding house'.
Like me, many people think of a boarding house in that particular way, even though it wasn't just a western thing...boarding houses were all over the place - worldwide, not just in our country.
Boarding houses were a necessity when the lumberjacks and miners needed a place to stay while employed. Buying a house wasn't in the cards, as they knew their stay wouldn't be permanent.
Most folks put up in a boarding house for one night, but others stayed for weeks, months, and sometimes years. Many homes became boarding houses as a way to make some extra cash and to help those in need of a place to stay.
Bathrooms? You had to share ONE.
Dining was done at one table, with all tenants eating together.
I guess you could say this was a precursor to today's Bed & Breakfasts.
The boarding house boom started in the 1800s and quietly died down by the 1950s...from then on, motels, hotels, inns, and Bed and Breakfasts took over in popularity.
Many B&Bs in northern Michigan can give you an experience that closely resembles what these old boarding houses were like. Take a look at the gallery below, featuring thirty photos of some of Michigan's vintage boarding houses!
Vintage Michigan Boarding Houses
MORE VINTAGE MICHIGAN!