About 40 minutes north of the Michigan capital of Lansing is the tiny town of Owosso, an unassuming city with blue-collar roots and a passion for protecting its past. Its charming downtown features a variety of architectural styles, from Queen Anne to Italianate, Victorian, and more. But one would not suspect that this quaint town in mid-Michigan is also home to a castle modeled after the Norman chateaus that can be found throughout France.
About Curwood Castle Park
Curwood Castle Park is one of Michigan’s most precious hidden gems. This park is nestled in the heart of Owosso and is home to Curwood Castle — the historic home built by writer James Oliver Curwood in the early 1920s. When you visit the park, you will first find yourself walking through mature Oak and Sycamore trees, wondering if there really is a castle lying in wait. Keep going — you only have to take a few more steps before you will see the glistening yellow castle standing on the banks of the Shiawassee River.
James Oliver Curwood constructed Curwood Castle so that he would have a place to escape in order to write his adventure novels and focus on his conservation efforts. This ornate building served as his personal studio from 1923 until his death in 1927. Fortunately, the castle was preserved, and it is now a museum that is open to the community during the spring, summer, and fall seasons.
If you are interested in going inside this castle, you can come to town anytime between early March and late December in order to take a tour. When you visit during the summer months, you will find that the museum is open to visitors between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.
Many people do not realize that Owosso was designed as a potential contender for the state capital of Michigan. While it ultimately lost out to nearby Lansing, this community still shines like a diamond in the rough. In addition to Curwood Castle Park, there are several other historic homes to explore in the community. Curwood Castle is managed by the Owosso Historical Commission as one of the buildings in the Curwood Collection. Other buildings in the collection include the Woodard Paymaster Building and the Comstock Pioneer Cabin.
More History to Explore in Owosso
While historic homes stay in one place in Owosso, the past also can be uncovered on the railroad tracks that cut through town. The Steam Railroading Institute is an organization in Owosso that aims to keep steam locomotives relevant in the present day. Not only do its volunteers work to preserve locomotives and keep them in operation, but they also focus on developing the skills needed to maintain these powerful engines.
While all events are currently on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Steam Railroading Institute often offers train rides on its historic locomotives, including a Christmas-themed adventure in November and December on the Pere Marquette 1225.
Where to Eat in Owosso
In Owosso, people often look to the past and seek to preserve the rich history of the community. But that doesn’t mean that this town is trapped in time. In fact, it has become known as a foodie destination of sorts, with many local entrepreneurs starting up unique and innovative restaurants that help attract new visitors to the town. One of the most popular restaurants in town is the Wrought Iron Grill, an up-and-coming dining destination that is situated in an old warehouse building. It effortlessly combines the past with the present by offering a contemporary menu to diners who can look out the 110-year-old windows that shed light onto the bar.
If you aren’t in the mood for a full meal, then you may want to consider stopping at another newcomer to the Owosso food scene. Foster Coffee Co. is a growing Michigan coffee brand that began as a booth at the Owosso farmer’s market. The owners established their first location in downtown Owosso, which is still thriving today. Since then, they have expanded to other mid-Michigan towns, including Flint and East Lansing. Before you head to Curwood Castle to explore the park and take in the views of the river, grab a cup of coffee and a baked treat from this local establishment that prioritizes community enrichment.
Lodging in Owosso
Want to add an overnight or two to your Michigan summer bucket list adventures in mid-Michigan? Here are a few recommendations of places to stay near Owosso: