Things are generally pretty quiet at the Old Mission House, which reflects
on 169 years of history, dating back to the earliest days of white
settlement in the Grand Traverse area.
The home at 18459 Mission Road on Mission Peninsula is in fact the oldest
wood frame house in the greater Grand Traverse region. Supporters and
local history buffs hope to give the aging landmark a spruce-up with the
help of a fundraiser on Thursday, Aug. 4 at the Jolly Pumpkin restaurant.
The home was built by the Reverend Peter Dougherty, a Presbyterian
minister and graduate of the Princeton Seminary School, who established a
mission in 1839 in what is now the village of Old Mission. Initially, he
built a log church and school house for his work with the Odawa tribe of
Native Americans. In 1842, needing a larger, more permanent residence,
Dougherty built his Mission House, or manse.
Dougherty stayed here for more than a decade teaching and farming as the
region grew and saw white settlers begin to inhabit the area, states a
release from the Peter Dougherty Society.
It was Peter Dougherty who planted the first cherry tree in the Traverse
City area in 1852, establishing the cherry industry in the wake of the
In the early 1850s, Reverend Dougherty and his Native American and white
followers purchased land near what is now Omena in Leelanau County
relocating to what became called the ‘New Mission‘... The house saw
another significant period when Solon Rushmore purchased the homestead in
1861 and began farming. The Rushmore family began using the large house as
an inn in 1876 and, along with several other local hotel owners, was
pivotal in creating a resort industry on the Old Mission Peninsula.
In 2006, The Grand Traverse Land Conservancy, working with the Dougherty
Historic Home Committee, purchased the house and the adjoining 16 acres
and assigned the property at closing to Peninsula Township. The society in
conjunction with the township, has been working since that time to
rehabilitate the house and outbuildings to create a historical,
educational and cultural center to interpret the history of Peter
Dougherty and the history of the Old Mission Peninsula.
All told, the Old Mission House is perhaps the most
historically-significant building in the region, considering its roots in
settlement, the cherry industry and tourism. Members of the Peter
Dougherty Society hope to preserve and cherish its tradition.
The Societys fundraiser will be at the Jolly Pumpkin, 13512 Peninsula
Drive on Thursday, August 4. Tickets are $45 from Peninsula Market.
For more info see http://www.peterdoughertysociety.org