10 Reasons to Visit Cartier Mansion Bed & Breakfast


Standing regally on Ludington’s main street, Ludington Avenue, Cartier Mansion Bed & Breakfast is a luxury retreat on the National Register of Historic Places. The Cartier Mansion is located in downtown Ludington, close to many restaurants and activities.

Nestled on the shores of Lake Michigan, Ludington is just 95 miles north of Grand Rapids, Michigan’s second-largest city. If you’re road-tripping and coming from the west, start in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Then, grab a ride on the SS Badger across Lake Michigan. The car ferry is the last coal-fired passenger steamship in the nation. The SS Badger alone makes for a new adventure. Flying in? You have two options. Gerald R. Ford International Airport (GRR) makes arriving by plane a breeze. United and American Airlines service the nearest airport, Manistee County-Blacker Airport (MBL).

Thank you to Pure Ludington for hosting my visit. All opinions are my own.

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History of the Mansion

Warren Cartier’s father, Antoine, was one of the area’s first lumber barons. Warren grew up in a Victorian home across the street from today’s bed and breakfast. He attended Notre Dame and returned to Ludington with a degree in civil engineering. After college, he went into the lumber business with his father. Both Cartier men were prominent in the community, serving as mayors and owning the town’s first telephone company, banks, and other businesses.

In Ludington during the late 1800s, Victorian architecture, with its complicated structures, was on-trend along Ludington Avenue. But Warren Cartier was a modern-thinking man. He went to the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, where he discovered the Columbian Exposition, a display of European-style homes with historical interpretations. These homes trended toward revivalist architecture, a modern Neoclassical look, with features like Corinthian pillars and wrap-around front porches. They inspired Warren to construct his Neoclassical mansion in November of 1903. After 18 months of construction, Warren, his wife Kate, and their three sons moved into their new home in May 1905.

Today, Chris and Jenna Simpler are the fourth owners of this unique property. Here are ten reasons to visit.

The Lighthouse Room in the Main House

The Main House

Warren and Kate Cartier built their three-story neoclassical revivalist home in 1905. They trimmed the Roman-pressed brick with Bedford limestone. The home’s exterior features bricks imported from France via Ludington’s Harbor. Fitting for a lumber baron, the interior features different types of wood in each room—including mahogany, oak, cherry, walnut, and maple.

The Cartiers wintered in Fort Myers, Florida, where their circle of friends included Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, and Thomas Edison. Warren got some of his home inspiration from Edison, who encouraged the Cartiers to be early adopters of electronic devices and modern technology. At that time, only three percent of the homes in the United States had electricity. The Cartier mansion’s light fixtures were double-plumbed for electricity and gas. The couple made gas to power the lights in the home’s basement. Today, the mansion even has the original light fixtures.

Kate loved to throw parties, so the dining room offered features to make entertaining more efficient. A button hidden in the floor allowed for a subtle call to staff. The ornate radiator concealed a warming oven beside the built-in sycamore wood buffet.

You can stay in a private bedroom and bath in Kate Cartier’s Blue Silk Room. Beautiful light blue silken wall coverings adorn the walls, and the original crystal chandelier lights the room. The Blue Silk Room features a king-size bed, a private bath, and a claw-foot bathtub and shower. Each of the guest rooms features a private bathroom.

The Carriage House
Exterior of the Carriage House

The Carriage House

The Carriage House was once home to a couple of horses, a cow, and then Kate’s 1917 Detroit electric car. In 2021, the Simplers turned the Carriage House into four additional rooms, with the ADA-accessible Edison Suite. While the stairs in a historic home may be daunting for some, you can still enjoy Cartier Mansion even if you require an accessible room.

The Edison Suite is now in the carriage house where Kate parked her 1917 Detroit Electric car—purchased the electric vehicle without Warren’s knowledge, a bold move for a woman of the early 1900s. While the suite pays homage to Cartier’s history, it offers a modern ADA-compliant roll-in shower and accessible sink. The original woodwork accents the large windows.

In keeping with the equestrian theme, I particularly like the Stable Room Suite. They snuggled the king-size bed into the horse stalls and created a sitting area with a fireplace from the tack room. The luxury bathroom with heated floors and a walk-in shower was once the cow stall. How fun is that?

History buffs will find the six Mason County Cultural Trails an exciting look into the rich local history. For example, the Lumber Heritage Trail highlights the importance of lumber in Ludington, emphasizing the lumber barons and their stories. You’ll find lumber baron Warren Cartier’s home on the trail.


For those staying in the Carriage House, they offer dog-friendly lodgings. Since this is a historic property, dogs aren’t allowed in the mansion. They do offer Ruby’s Wagaway Package for $50 a day. The package includes a doggie toy, treats, a clean-up bag, a towel, and food bowls. See their pet policy. The Simplers donate all money collected for this package to the Mason County Mutts.

Secret Michigan Book Cover

Luxury Touches

I had to ask about the towels since they were the softest I’d ever experienced. I discovered they used Monarch towels. In addition to the luxurious bedding and chocolates on my nightstand, I was excited to learn many items I might typically bring along on vacation were available for use during my stay. That meant I didn’t need to pack beach towels, chairs, or vintage lawn games. Touring bicycles and rainy-day activities were all at the ready.


You’ll find modern comfort in this historic home – keyless entry, high-speed WiFi, smart flat-screen TVs, complimentary wireless internet access, toiletries, a hair dryer, a free private parking lot, complimentary bottled water, and a snack station.

Breakfast at Cartier Mansion Bed & Breakfast
Breakfast at Cartier Mansion Bed & Breakfast

Complimentary Full Breakfast

Cartier Mansion Bed and Breakfast has arguably the best three-course breakfast in Ludington. Unfortunately, to sample chef-owner Chris Simpler’s three-course breakfast, you must reserve a room for the night at Cartier Mansion Bed and Breakfast. But you’ll be happy you did. The breakfast rivals that of any fine dining quality, four-star restaurant.

The first course features a beverage, like a coconut carrot karma sipper or a raspberry champagne Bellini. The second course highlights the grain. Saturday’s breakfast was a bowl of ancient grains topped with cardamom apples, and Sunday, baked oatmeal bananas Foster. Finally, the entrée is a Belgian waffle with berries, whipped cream, and hardwood smoked bacon. On the second day, the menu included blueberry pancakes with 21-spice, house-made sausage patties. It was a fun food game to try to identify the spices. No matter what the breakfast, it provides plenty of sustenance to get you through a morning of Ludington’s outdoor activities.

Guided Home Tours

As an overnight guest, I had the opportunity for a guided tour after breakfast. Jenna Simpler pointed out many historical details of this amazing B&B that you might miss while exploring on your own. Since Warren was a lumber baron, each of the main rooms showcased stunning woodwork with different types and styles of wood. For example, the front hall and grand staircase feature red oak, the front parlor cherry, the conservatory mahogany, the dining room American sycamore, and the library black walnut.

Other interesting details are the original wallpaper, Warren’s name printed on the face of the grandfather clock, and hooks that the family used to hang drapes in the winter to separate the front hall and parlor. The drapes kept the parlor warmer during the cold winter months.

Big Sable Point Lighthouse,
Big Sable Point Lighthouse

Local Volunteer Experiences

The Simplers believe that experiences are vital ingredients when planning a great vacation. Their tagline, “Stay on Purpose, Make Your Mark,” helps those who want give-back experiences as part of their vacation. They will arrange a volunteer experience with one of their three community partners at your request. Three hours is the minimum required; however, you can volunteer for additional hours. local nonprofits

You can be a lighthouse keeper with the Sable Points Lighthouse Keepers Association. They oversee the maintenance and restoration of four area lighthouses: Big Sable Point Lighthouse, Little Sable Point Lighthouse, Ludington North Breakwater Lighthouse, and the White River Light Station.

No matter your skill level, you can volunteer at the local Habitat for Humanity organization to help elderly homeowners with small cosmetic projects, such as yard work, landscaping, and painting. Another option is creating an upscale piece for the organization to sell in their ReStore shop.

Another opportunity is helping at the Lakeshore Food Club, where low-to-moderate-income homes increase food security and manage food choices in a grocery store-style environment.

After your volunteer hours, return to Cartier Mansion, where you can rest for an afternoon on the beach or have a night out on the town.

Located Near Many Activities

Beach bums, art lovers, outdoor enthusiasts, and history buffs will all find something they’ll love in Ludington. The Cartier Mansion Bed and Breakfast is within walking distance of Stearns Park Beach, local shopping, and restaurants. However, you will want a car to explore Ludington State Park.

First, the 5,300-acre park offers 21.5 miles of hiking trails. Then, if you’re up for an almost 4-mile accessible and level round-trip walk, explore the Big Sable Point Lighthouse. Alternatively, investigate the schedule of bus days throughout the summer when you can ride to the lighthouse. Hamlin Lake is another spot in the park you’ll want to experience.

An Interactive Exhibit Inside the Port of Ludington Maritime Museum
An Interactive Exhibit Inside the Port of Ludington Maritime Museum

Sandcastles Children’s Museum and Port of Ludington Maritime Museum are great rainy-day activities. In addition to Ludington State Park, you can explore Ludington Waterfront Park.

You can see Kate Cartier’s 1917 Detroit Electric car at the Historic White Pine Village in Ludington, just minutes from Cartier Mansion.

Piper’s Pro Planning: Ludington offers year-round fun. While I love to visit in the summer when the sandy beaches are in full swing, fall color tour is an excellent time for those who enjoy leaf peeping.

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Amy Piper
Author: Amy Piper

While Piper is a lifelong Michigander, she’s had adventures worldwide. Bomb-sniffing dogs chased her in the middle of the night in Bogota (working late), gate agents refused her boarding to Paraguay (wrong visa), and US Marshals announced her seat number on a plane while looking for a murder suspect (she’d traded seats). It’s always an adventure! She even finds exciting activities in her home state of Michigan, where she lives in Lansing with her husband, Ross Dingman, her daughter, Alexis, and two granddaughters.


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1 Comment

  1. Michael Taylor

    This place looks absolutely beautiful! I would love to spend a few nights there while exploring the neighborhood!


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Welcome to Follow the Piper! Discover interesting destinations, and practical planning tips for packing more travel into your everyday life.

Our founder and author, Amy Piper, is a freelance travel writer, blogger, photographer, and author specializing in traveling through a food lens and multi-generational travel. She is a native Michigander who travels through the lens of a food lover and has been to 41 countries and 45 states.


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