Vanderbilt & the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island

Right now, my husband and I are watching the movie Somewhere in Time starring Christopher Reeves and Jane Seymour.  This is one of his favorite movies and we hope one day to actually visit the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island where the movie takes place.

Vanderbilt Suite at the Grand Hotel

Well, he just told me that there is a suite there called the Vanderbilt Suite, so off I go to find out what the association could be and guess what I learn – the hotel was opened in 1887 by a group of investors headed by Cornelius Vanderbilt! Very cool.  I must research this further.


5 thoughts on “Vanderbilt & the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island

  1. John Elliot Owen

    Hi All,
    I’m the great grandson of John Oliver Plank, the hotelier who “built” the Grand Hotel, was part owner and served as manager for the first couple of years of its long existence. The hotel opened July 10, 1887 which was well after the reported death of “The Commodore.” However, hand written records by John Plank dated July 1,1887 indicate that a Vanderbilt was among the first stock holders of the hotel. Moreover, a 1935 history of the Grand Hotel states that “a party of eastern people headed by Commodore Vanderbilt were present for the opening.” Unless Cornelius’ death in 1877 is in error, it had to be another Vanderbilt. Any further research regarding this puzzle would be appreciated.

      1. John Elliot Owen

        Hi Taneya,
        I’ve come to the conclusion that history is often full of errors. I’m trying to get information about the early years of my great grandfather John Oliver Plank in preparation of a power point presentation that I’ll be making at the Grand this October during the celebration of the hotel’s 125th. I have loads of stuff about him from about 1880 on, but practically nothing about his years as a youth. He was born July 10, 1857 in Shiloh, Ohio (also called Planktown in those days due to the large number of Planks in that area). His schooling, what he did during the Civil War, etc., are still a mystery. He opened the Grand on July 10, 1887 on his birthday. Thirty years old and already a millionaire!
        If you have any ideas on how I can get info about his early years, I’d love to our thoughts.
        Thanks, Jon

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