Where Cawthorne's Village Inn now stands stood the original Ste. Anne's Church, first built in 1715 at present day Mackinaw City, then disassembled in 1780, hauled across the ice-covered Straits by teams of horses and reconstructed on the Island. In 1878, nearly a century later, a new Ste. Anne's was built just east of downtown. The old church was torn down and much of the site remained vacant for the next 103 years.
In the early 1950's Island resident Mort Pero and his son Vern built a small bar-restaurant located just steps away from our location, at the present day site of the "Loon Feather." The enterprise, originally called "Pero's Pow Wow," was purchased in the late 1950's by Bob and Arlene Chambers and renamed Village Inn. In 1961, a second story was added with sweeping views of the Fort, Main Street and the harbor. Then in 1963, the Village Inn was acquired by locals Jack Chambers and Dennis Brodeur. Brodeur later left the partnership to become the owner of the Island's Mustang Lounge. In the late 1960's, Jack Chambers built a new structure immediately adjacent to the old Village Inn and moved its operations there where it remained until 1977 when he quit the bar-restaurant business and converted the premises to a gift shop.
It was in the fall of 1978 that Dennis Cawthorne and his wife Cynthia acquired the vacant Village Inn “backyard” - part of the old church site - from Jack Chambers and made plans to create a new Village Inn. After a three and a half year hiatus, on June 6, 1981 the Village Inn sprang to life again in a brand new two-story Victorian-style structure. It has been a popular gathering place ever since, including 28 years under the management of Ron and Mary Dufina.
Beginning in 2011, and for the ensuing six years, the business was successfully operated by Grand Hotel as Cawthorne's Village Inn. The VI's reputation for quality and service continues to this day.