Whatever Happened to Idlewild
Before laws changed in the ’60s preventing discrimination, Idlewild was known as the “Black Eden.” Founded in 1912, this resort town nestled in the Manistee National Forest in NW Michigan was a popular destination for African American tourists. African Americans were allowed to purchase property here, and many famous entertainers came to perform at the Paradise Club. When the Civil Rights Act passed in 1964, Idlewild saw a decline in popularity and fell into economic disparity.
It still remains somewhat abandoned still today, though some stimulation in recent years have positioned the town to make a resurgence. Morton’s Motel has been renovated and is open seasonally, the Idlewild Historic Cultural Center teaches visitors the historical significance of the area and the Idlewild Jazz Festival draws many visitors.
Idlewild is rundown and blighted in parts, but the land is sits on is quite pretty. We took a stroll through the town and found almost no one, as seasonal operations for the year have yet to open.