Antoine Manseau founded the town of Leland in 1852, and at that time, the town was primarily a logging town. Jacob Schwarz, a German immigrant to Leelanau County, constructed the original Riverside Inn in 1901. Mr. Schwarz had previously been involved in the logging industry, partially owning three different saw mills. As a former resident of Indianapolis, Indiana, Schwarz recognized a potential market for Leland in the summer tourist trade. Wealthy residents of Indianapolis, Chicago, Cincinnati and Detroit were looking for locations for their summer getaways. This wealthy group was just discovering Northern Michigan. Schwarz took his profit from the lumber business and built The Riverside Inn, almost single-handedly.
Jacob Schwarz realized that in order for this area to become a destination for the wealthy tourists, a hotel with “city” amenities would be required. Indoor plumbing, hot water, heat, and electricity were fairly rare in a rural setting such as Leland, but Jacob made sure The Riverside Inn had all this. The wealthy summer residents felt comfortable in the setting, thus, the same guests returned year after year.