Marquette Park (Mackinac Island) - History


When Fort Mackinac was built in a commanding location on a bluff above Mackinac Island's harbor in 1780-1781, the relatively flat plateau between the bluff and shoreline was set aside for the Fort's use. During the 1800s, the Fort's men used the area as a vegetable garden, growing potatoes and other foodstuffs there to supplement their rations.

After the U.S. Army ceased to use Fort Mackinac in 1895, the plateau area was redundant. The new Mackinac Island State Park decided to adaptively re-use the former vegetable gaden as a quasi-urban park. The newly-landscaped park was dedicated to Father Jacques Marquette in 1909.

A major planting of varietal lilacs took place in Marquette Park in 1964, and the State Park also in that year installed a replica chapel intended to evoke memories of a pioneer structure erected at Mackinac Island by Jesuit missionaries, including Marquette, in the 1670s. Today, Marquette Park serves as a visual frame for Fort Mackinac and as the site of mile marker 0 on the circular M-185. The park serves as a popular tourist destination on the island.

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