History of Port Hope Mercantile
Port Hope, Michigan was founded in 1887 by W.R. Stafford but prior to its official status as a town, Port Hope’s Main Street was bustling with merchants. One of those merchants was The Mihlethaler Company Store on the corner of Main and States Streets. Built in 1875 by Henry Leuty, W. R.’s brother-in-law, the store was a two-story wood frame building and sold everything from ladies hosiery and gloves to coffee sugars, syrup and carried a full stock of hardware and farming implements. Cash as well as produce was acceptable payment for goods sold.
Over the years, the Leuty store was owned and operated by several Port Hope residents. In 1914 Charles Engle bought the store and formed the Port Hope Mercantile Company. Engle modernized and renovated it with new fixtures and office to give it a more “metropolitan” appearance. Unfortunately, in 1918 the structure was the victim of an arsonist and it burned to the ground. In 1919 blueprints were drawn for the construction of a new store called Engle Mercantile and Company. The new masonry building was constructed on the same site and is still standing today.
Today we continue the family owned mercantile tradition.
In 2014 John, my husband, and I bought the building, which had been closed for several years, returning ownership to the family; I am the great-great-grand-daughter of W.R. Stafford. A native of Ann Arbor, my family and I spent summers in Port Hope in the house that W.R. built for his family. John and I were a military family and when we were stationed stateside we brought our children “home” to Port Hope during the summer months. We both cherish our family legacy and the tradition of giving to the community so we took a giant leap of faith, quit corporate life and became permanent residents of Port Hope in 2016. Prior to our move, we “commuted” from Virginia to Port Hope every couple of weeks and began renovating the building. We have completely modernized the mercantile but kept the traditional mercantile feel.
Port Hope is a town with a rich history and our goal is to perpetuate the historical aspect and provide a modern hardware and general store inside; it is a unique experience of modern retail in an historic building. Opening Port Hope Mercantile has been one of the most affirming and best decisions we have every made. We hope you enjoy it too.
John and Leslie and
the Mercantile Team
Monday : 9:00-3:00 Tuesday to Friday : 9:00-5:00 Saturday : 9:00-3:00