Summer Chair

The classic Adirondack chair, which has been around for 118 years, has become a symbol of summer at one Mackinac Island resort // Photograph by Sara Wright
The iconic chair, perfect for soaking up summer, awaits at Mission Point Resort on Mackinac Island. Its design invites R&R.

Necessity is, indeed, the mother of invention, as a man named Thomas Lee found out in 1903. It’s said that Lee was at his family’s Westport, N.Y., home, looking out toward beautiful Lake Champlain and the Adirondack mountains in the distance. It would be nice to have a proper chair, he likely thought, while taking in the beauty. So he set out to build his family the ultimate lawn chair — one that would be comfortable, durable, and have a solid surface on which to place a glass. He eventually created a chair that’s said to have been constructed from 11 pieces of wood all cut from one single plank. Low, spacious, and with a high back (and those extra-wide armrests), it became quite a popular design. Today it’s known as the Adirondack chair.

One of the most quintessential summer sights in Michigan, meanwhile, is the expansive Great Lawn at Mission Point Resort on Mackinac Island. Here, 81 white Adirondack chairs dot the sprawling lawn, awaiting visitors who want to absorb summertime scenes that feature the beautiful Straits of Mackinac as a backdrop.

Resort publicist Sarah Ombry shares that Mission Point purchases their chairs from Built to Last, based in North Carolina. “They’re made of 100 percent recycled plastic,” Ombry says, pointing out that it’s in keeping with the resort’s sustainable-sourcing goals.

“(Mackinac Island) is known as a place that transcends time,” she adds. “From the moment you step off the ferry (which brings visitors to Mackinac Island), there’s an instant sense of nostalgia.” As for those chairs, Ombry says they’ve become iconic to the resort. “We love that Mission Point is becoming well-known for our Adirondack chairs.”

Each Mission Point chair weighs 52 pounds — and, yes, the grounds crew has to move all 81 chairs (4,212 pounds) whenever the lawn is mowed. “That’s twice a week,” Ombry says. “They move all the chairs to mow, and then move them back to their original spots.” Like ducks drawn to water, guests often will move their chair closer to the shoreline, where a combination of limestone, shale, puddingstone, and chert line the beach. “It’s a great spot to find really pretty beach glass,” Ombry says.  Or to just look out at the water, as Thomas Lee did 118 years ago, contemplating a lakeside furniture design that would capture all a lounging chair should be.