A native of New York, contractor Charles G. Learned helped build New York City’s water-works system and the Erie Canal. Around 1837 Learned and his brother-in-law purchased several thousand acres of pine land in Michigan’s Thumb area. Two years later, Learned and his wife, Maria Raymond, came to Port Austin and bought a house and three acres at this site. Learned’s cutover pine land became a 2,000-acre farm where he prospered as an agriculturalist and dairy farmer. With profits from his lumbering and farming enterprises Learned enlarged and updated this house in the French Second Empire style. In the 1860s Ohio congressman, later president, James A. Garfield, a family friend, was a frequent guest here. From 1931 to 1979 the house served as the Mayes Inn and Tower Hotel.
There were rumors that President Garfield was smitten for Charles Learned’s wife Maria and that president requested that he travel to Port Austin to see her after being shot but he was not permitted to travel.
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