The story of a landmark.

The charming Old World structure now known as Shakespeare House is the heart of Chikaming
Country Club. Why it came to be and how it found its way to southwestern Michigan is perhaps the most told
story of all the many anecdotes, tall tales, and legends in the club’s first century.


According to most scholars, the great English dramatist and poet
William Shakespeare was born on April 23, 1564. Though
impossible to know the exact day on which he was born, the place
of The Bard’s birth is more certain. It was the half-timbered
house on Henley Street in Stratford-upon-Avon in the old photo.
The dwelling itself is relatively simple, but for the late 16th
century it would have been considered not only substantial but also
quite a good representation of the prevailing architectural
style of the day, an interesting and important factor 360 years later.


Seeking a “distinctive architectural display”, the management of
the 1924 Chicago International Live Stock Exposition had
the idea of reproducing the birthplace of William Shakespeare to
house a comprehensive view of the meat industry. The
historical justification was that a portion of the original structure
had been used by a butcher. So, the quaint little building
christened “The Meat Shoppe” soon became the exposition’s most
popular exhibit, with record-setting crowds, including
President Coolidge, viewing the prize-winning carcasses of beef,
pork and lamb before closing for good at year’s end.


The temporary exhibit building called “The Meat Shoppe” was
marked for destruction. But O.T. Henkle, the treasurer
of the exposition and a charter member of Chikaming, made the
management a tantalizing offer. He proposed to dismantle
 the structure, thereby saving the cost of demolition, with the idea
of reassembling it at a “special location” in southwest
Michigan. Details were finalized, and work began. Things must
have proceeded quickly because, as the new clubhouse
for Chikaming Country Club, the building–now called Shakespeare
House–was dedicated on August 29, 1925.


After nearly a century, Shakespeare House remains the symbol
Of Chikaming Country Club and the hub of its activities.
It’s the destination in the distance when golfers play the last hole.
It’s graduations and meetings, Mother’s Day brunches and
Saturday night dinners. It’s the charming old building hung with
bunting you point to proudly on the Fourth of July. It’s a
cozy fire in a dining room still reminiscent of its historic past. And
now it’s the backdrop for dozens of selfies a year, just like it
was for the thousands of photographs of newlyweds and returning
veterans over the years. Its story has become our story.