Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

Ka3kab

Idlewild

18 posts in this topic

Just thought that I would share some info about Idlewild. By now I'm sure most of you have seen the trailers for the movie, but I thought I would share with you some of the history. While the movie is set in the South, Georgia to be exact, Idlewild was actually a kind of "black" resort during the prohibition ere located in Lake County in "southern" Northwest Michigan. But like most Hollywood portrayals of historical events, they decided that Northern Michigan would not be believable as a place for black people to have a resort. So they moved it to the south. Below is a link to the Idlewild Chamber of Commerce if you wanted some more info.

Idlewild African American Chamber of Commerce

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


:dontknow: The producers didnt think that people would beleive that black people live in Michigan?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I couldn't believe they did that. I looked on IMDB and said it was set in Georgia. I thought WTF?! Michigan always gets the shaft when it comes to movies...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

^ Well, it's in NW Michigan almost in the middle of nowhere and most historic black films take place in the South or at least in urban areas. I don't know, lol.

But anyway, while I had heard of the name before I didn't know anything about the place until I actually went there last year. I didn't get to see much (mainly the person's house I was going to), but I was told how a lot of famous Black entertainers used to own property and hang out up there. I had no idea.

Edit: My first sentence was meant for dtown.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd heard of it through the years, before, but it wasn't until a recent Detroit News/Free Press special they did of it a few weeks back that I realized how big of a thing it was. It's really unfortunate that there is little left of it. It's seen a rural decline not unlike many other cities of Northern Michigan and the UP. The article showed quite a few abanoned buildings, weeds and everything growing out of them. The area is only home to something like a few hundred permanent residents, I believe.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If I had to guess, I would say that there are about two hundred occupied homes in Idlewild (that comes from reading gas meters this summer and estimating that about half have gas). There are abandoned homes and buildings but I think that there are neihborhoods in the Detroit area that have much higher percentages. Alot of the buildings that were significant (such as the clubs) have been destroyed by fire leaving not a trace of their existance.

The community has begun an attempt to draw tourists to the area for its historical signifigance, but given how much is left I do't know how sucessful that will be.

I think I have another website on the area that has quite a bit f history, but I have it saved as a favorite on another computer.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I feel that if they could even get just a few millionaires to invest into making a new Idlewild, with a community that small, they could turn it around very quickly. It wouldn't take alot, it would just take people willing to invest in the dream, again. With Detroit so prominent in black culture, more than in the days when Idlewild was popular, of course, I'm surprised it was never reinvented as the get-away it once was. You'd expect that more now than every before.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I remeber reading that the downfall of Idlewild was desegregation, once places like Las Vegas and Atlantic city were open to everyone, Idlewild's popularity faded. To make it an attraction now, one would definately need to focus on the natural features (lakes, forest, etc.) since that's mainly all there is in that area. Of course almost all of Lake County needs to be turned around considering its overall poor econmic state.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


But like most Hollywood portrayals of historical events, they decided that Northern Michigan would not be believable as a place for black people to have a resort. So they moved it to the south.
Setting the movie in 1920's Georgia is quite unbelievable. The reason the REAL Idlewild was in Michigan was because African-American resorts were not tolerated elsewhere, especially in the South.

I suspect the fact that members of OutKast are from Atlanta had something to do with the movie's location.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, that's a good point. My girlfriend said the same thing last night. About it being in Georgia, that is. Outkast did an interview with MTV/Asia and basically said that they took the idea's from the Idlewild in Michigan and incorporated them into a fictional place in Georgia.

Also, a little correction from my original post. The resort actually did well from the 1910's all the way up until 1964, the year segragation was made illegal by way of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

BTW, I previewd some of the songs by Outkast today at work. I wasn't too impressed. I'm actually a big fan of their music since their sound is really ground breaking at times. I was looking really forward to this album, and it wasn't all that great. I'm guessing this is probably because the music was too catered to the movie. :cry:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My thoughts exactly. Not as good as some of their past albums.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Actually, I think Idlewild owed its existence to its proximity to Chicago, not Detroit.

It amazes me that Michigan people do not know the story of Idlewild. Do they not teach Michigan History in third grade any more? It was a fading community even in my childhood days when we passed by the area on US 10 on the way to Ludington and Lake Michigan.

I'm glad the reasons behind its development are obsolete, but I sure wish it could be revived ...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The link I put up at the top from the Idlewild Chamber of Commerce says that at its peak, the main source of people came from Detroit, Chicago and St. Louis.

Also, when I was in third grade, which was 1984, either I don't remember learning about it or it wasn't taught. Come to think of it, I'm not even sure why I know the history of the place (where I would have learned about it) because Baldwin and Lake Co. are places I have only drove through.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Even my mom knew nearly nothing about it, and she was a kid during the time the place was popular. It's only very well known in cities with historically large African American populations (i.e. Indy, Chicago...). The reason it's not so known in Detroit was that up until pretty recently (i.e. 1950/1960's), Detroit had one of the smallest Black populations of any major city, and a very tiny Black professional class that could afford this type of resort.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


I have always been very curious about that area. my grandparents used to have a cottage up there on the pm river and I would drive through Baldwin and sometimes Idlewild.

The fact that its got history, its the poorest and most deprest county in MI, there are Black people in the northern michigan woods and the infrastructure suggest a population a lot larger than it is all are very interesting.

when I first heard about the movie, I thought, there must be another Idlewild, theres no way this is about the town in MI, of course it would'nt be set here though. I agree with the comment about that MI gets shafted on movies. There are several movies that could have taken place here or the story line is from here but it was shot somewhere else.

I heard few months ago that there are new tax incentives for films to be shot here. Is that true, and should we expect more to be shot here?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I remember hearing about the Idle from stories about my family history. I'm assuming its the same town, it just was never refered to as Idelwild. That's about the only reason I know of Idlewild and that some of the black folks I know have relatives who farm cherry or apple up there.

Add another interesting town to the History of Michigan.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The real Idlewild - A history and geography lesson

When OutKast's Andre Benjamin suggested the name "Idlewild" for his new movie set in rural Atlanta in the 1930s, the producers jumped on it.

Imagine their surprise when they learned a week before the film's release that there really is an Idlewild that was a cultural hub for blacks in that period - but it's in upstate Michigan. And that Idlewild was nothing like the one portrayed in the movie, residents and historians say.

"A Michigan reporter told us about it," Hollywood publicist Roz Stevenson said after a screening of the film last month in Indianapolis at the annual convention of the National Association of Black Journalists. "They were not aware of it."

"I was shocked," co-producer Erika Conner said in a recent telephone interview. "When 'Dre [benjamin]suggested the name, we thought it had come from so creative a place. ... I wish I had known."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.