Our History

You can feel the history of the Michillinda property as soon as you enter the majestic driveway surrounded by the towering pines. Steeped in rich tradition, this turn-of-the-century resort still maintains the rustic charm that has made it so popular over the years. Our commitment to preserving the resort, and the stories behind it, is also one of the reasons why this Whitehall retreat remains among the busiest destinations in Michigan.

Michillinda was born out of a reverend’s desire to find the perfect summer getaway for his family. In 1894, Theo Willson, formerly pastor of the Congregational Church in Muskegon, told some of his parishioners that he knew of a spot “where there was never a hot day in summer.” He rented a cottage at Sylvan Beach and three of his deacons, H.W. Cooper, C.L. Gimes, and Sullivan Hill asked him to rent a double cottage for them in the summer of 1894. When they arrived they found only one half of a double cottage available, which was crowded for three families with children. Some of them ended up sleeping outside in a tent. This experience motivated these four men to purchase the 22 acres of land that now houses the Michillinda cottages.  They had fallen in love with the area’s quiet beauty, gorgeous beach and privacy for families. Twenty-three lots were then plotted along the lakeshore.

Most of the original leaseholders were families from Grand Rapids, Michigan and Moline, Illinois along with one from Indiana. They built simple, comfortable, two-story cottages and in 1902 named their property MICH-ILL-INDA, using a syllable from the names of each of the home states of these new residents.