The Mackinac Cudahy

The  Woods Restaurant on Mackinac Island



By Megan McKinney


Meatpacker Michael Cudahy, a sometime partner of Philip D. Armour, was born in County Kilkenny, Ireland in 1841. When the potato famine hit his country in 1849, the eight-year-old immigrated with his family to the American Midwest and by age 14 he was deep in the messy but lucrative world of meat, as in meatpacking.

Michael Cudahy

Philip D. Armour

By 1875, he was made a partner in Armour & Company, serving as superintendent of the company’s Chicago plant at Union Stock Yards. With Armour, he founded Armour Cudahy in Omaha, 1887.



In the late 19th century Mike bought 150 acres of property on Mackinac Island and hired Chicago architect Frederick Wainwright Perkins to design a summer house, Stonecliffe, for himself, his wife, Catherine, and some of their seven children. The house, completed in 1904 and large enough to be a hotel now is one, The Inn at Stonecliffe.


The Inn at Stonecliffe


Architect Perkins also designed another massive house on the island: The Michigan Governor’s Summer Residence, an enviable perk for the residing governor.



A later pair of owners of Stonecliffe built this “playhouse” on the grounds of the mansion for their not-so-young children. It has evolved into Woods Restaurant, a favorite of visitors to the island.


Michael Cudahy at 69


In its November 27, 1910, obituary, the Chicago Daily Tribune wrote  “With the passing of Mr. Cudahy, the last of the old time ‘beef barons’ who included Nelson Morris, Gustavus F. Swift and Philip D. Armour, is dead. Cudahy probably enjoyed the friendship of each of the others to a greater extent than any other of the four. . . No matter how hard business competition became the packers were always friendly to ‘Mike’ Cudahy.”


Author Photo: Robert F Carl