The City of Ludington  was founded through the enterprise of many lumber barons, and they began to build their impressive residences along the east side of the main street on what was later named Ludington Avenue. The City was incorporated in 1873 and Charles E. Resseguie served as its first mayor. Thus when the boundaries of the city first expanded commensurate with its growth, it incorporated the area east of the central business district in what was designated the Resseguie Addition. The East Ludington Historic District includes the residences of numerous prominent lumber barons: Antoine E. Cartier, 501 E. Ludington Avenue; Marshal Butters, 509 E. Ludington Avenue; Emery D. Weimer, 510 E. Ludington Avenue; Wilmer T. Culver, 701 E. Ludington Avenue; James Foley, 702 E. Ludington Avenue, and Daniel Goodenough, 706 E. Ludington Avenue. The downtown business district and this residential area are linked by several historic public buildings: the U.S. Post Office, the Ludington District Library (an original Carnegie Library), and the Mason County Courthouse, which is on the State and National Historic Register. In short, the commercial district, the seat of county government, and the residences of the movers and shakers of the community were all in close proximity. The north and south alleyways are the linear boundaries with the buildings facing East Ludington Avenue. Staffon Street designates the far eastern boundary with the remaining concentration of historic homes at that point. Harrison Street intersects East Ludington Avenue and marks the western boundary of the East Ludington Historic District where the commercial district of downtown Ludington begins.
The City of Ludington  is located in Mason County on the western edge of Michigan's Lower Peninsula. Nestled on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, Ludington's proximity to incredible natural beauty and numerous recreational opportunities, combined with its historic small-town charm, create a unique atmosphere that is cherished by residents and visitors alike. While much of the City's land area is developed for a variety of residential, commercial, and industrial uses, its natural resources provide important quality of life, ecological, and economic benefits and must be carefully considered when planning for the future.
Ludington's history, including roots in Michigan's lumber, shipping, and railroad industries, has helped shape a cultural identity that makes the community a desirable place to live and visit. The City's ties to its past and its waterfront, beaches, and public lands have supported a significant tourism industry for many decades.
Prior to European settlement, the Ludington area was inhabited by a number of North American Indian tribes. In 1675, an early explorer and missionary, Jacques Marquette, made the first known European contact at Ludington's location. Pere Marquette Lake was named after the traveler and a memorial currently marks the location of his death on Buttersville Peninsula.
The Ludington area's dense hardwood and pine forests and natural harbor made the location ideal for the logging industry. Formerly called The Village of Pere Marquette, Ludington was platted in 1867 by Milwaukee lumberman James Ludington. The town served as a shipping center for West Michigan lumber. In 1874, the Flint&Pere Marquette Railway reached Ludington, bringing the city into the heyday of the lumber industry and making it home to the world's largest carferry fleet. Lumber barons built grandiose mansions that still line Ludington Avenue today, many of which have been converted to bed and breakfasts or office uses.
Ludington became the Mason County seat in 1873, when county offices were moved from the now-vanished village of Lincoln. At that time, Ludington was the county's most prosperous settlement.The Mason County Courthouse was erected in 1893-94. Grand Rapids architect Sidney J. Osgood designed the Richardsonian Romanesque structure, which was built of Jacobsville sandstone from the Upper Peninsula. The courthouse is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.