The 1,000-Mile Great Lakes Adventures

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Grosse Ile Pilot House

While on my adventure, I like to stay at places that have a connection to the history of their towns. On the island of Grosse Ile, I stayed at The Pilot House a place steeped in over 80 years of the island's (and the country's) history.

During WWII, the Naval Air Station on Grosse Ile was the primary training facility for naval pilots. Thousands of pilots trained here, including 1,800 of England's RAF. The building that is now the Pilot House hotel served as housing for pilots and officers and the upstairs had an officer's club and ballroom. George HW Bush was stationed here for a time during the war, and Donald Rumsfeld drilled at the base in the 60s.

The hotel boasts 12 rooms, many with a separate sitting room and some with jacuzzi tubs. They are currently renovating an enormous master suite on the second floor with a great view over the airstrip with Lake Erie in the distance.

One of the most unique features is the sprawling common areas like the one below with piano, ping pong, and giant television. It seems like the perfect place for a large family reunion.

"Yes," the owner Jim Cortis (in photo below) told me, "we get quite a few reunions here. They often rent the entire place." The Cortis family has owned the Pilot House for over three decades. Art Cortis, Jim's dad, operated a tug boat for years. The pilot house of a tug adorns the second floor in his honor.

The Pilot House website
Location:Grosse Ile, MI

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