Our Island Legacy

Benjamin is synonymous with Mackinac Island. Robert H. Benjamin, his wife Hulda, his mother Katherine, and his young son Herbert arrived here in 1885. He operated a blacksmith shop, while at various times also serving as mayor, postmaster, and sheriff of Mackinac County. At 17, Herbert took over the blacksmith shop, housed in a barn in the family’s side yard on Market Street. The original blacksmith shop, donated by Herbert’s children Robert E. (Bob) and Dorothy in the late 1960s, is a working historical site operated by Mackinac State Historic Parks, hosting thousands of visitors each year from all over the world.

In 1922, Herbert married Mary Foley, whose family operated a photography studio on Mackinac Island. Their son Bob apprenticed with famed photographer G. H. Wickman in his Mackinac Island studio before opening his namesake shop in 1950 on Main Street. Bob created his own line of postcards, which are still available at Benjamin of Mackinac Island. Dorothy was a Detroit area newspaper columnist, while also operating the Picture Shop on Mackinac Island through the 1970s. She created the horse and buggy logo of the Benjamin brand.

In 1953, Bob married Beverly Hamilton and through 64 years together they raised sons Tom and Mike, and daughter Jane, and welcomed eight grandchildren. Today, Bob and Bev’s children continue the family’s tradition of serving visitors and residents alike at Benjamin of Mackinac Island, found under the yellow awning on Main Street.

A collage of old photographs with people in the background.
A collage of photos with people and an old man

Views on Mackinac Island