Charlevoix is situated on an isthmus between Lake Michigan and Lake Charlevoix and encircles tiny Round Lake, which – along with the Pine River – serves as a link between the two larger lakes.
The first effort to improve access from Lake Michigan to Round Lake was in 1868, when a roughly 100-foot-wide channel between the two lakes was dredged and lined by close piling. In 1885, a square, open-frame tower topped by an iron lantern was installed at the Lake Michigan end of the north pier. The pierhead light commenced operation on September 1, 1885.
After some relocation, the fog bell on the south pierhead was superseded by a type “C” air diaphone in 1938, which sounded a two-second blast every 20 seconds. Charlevoix residents took a liking to the new fog signal and affectionately called it Ferdinand.
The pierhead light at Charlevoix was looked after by a keeper until 1940. Betty Hoffmann, who purchased the property in 1962, later donated the residence to the City of Charlevoix, which razed the dwelling in 1984 to create Hoffmann Park. The park provides a beautiful, lake-front area for Charlevoix residents to sit back, relax and watch boats to this day.