The Curwood Castle was the writing studio for one of America's greatest authors of his time. James Oliver Curwood was an Owosso, Michigan native whose novels were estimated to have been read by over 7 million people during his time, and whose stories were turned into major motion pictures in Hollywood. However, the once world renowned and famous author fell into obscurity after his death in 1927. His former writing studio (Curwood Castle) and his family home (Hoddy House) remain preserved in Owosso and retain the legacy of his life as a writer, adventurer, explorer, conservationist, and pioneer.

Parents of James Oliver Curwood: James & Abigail Curwood

Parents of James Oliver Curwood: James & Abigail Curwood


It was in the living quarters in the back room of cobbler shop in Owosso, Michigan that James and Abigail Curwood gave birth to a boy on June 12th, 1878, whom they named James Oliver Curwood. The cobbler shop sat on the corner of  Main and Lansing Street in what is now called West Town. The Curwood family lived here until they moved to Erie County in Ohio to try their hand at farming. They eventually moved back to Owosso when James Oliver Curwood was a teenager and lived on John Street (what is now called Curwood Castle Drive).


James and Abigail Curwood at their home on John Street (known today as Curwood Castle Drive)

James Oliver Curwood at Age 7

Our old-fashioned house on John Street still stands within a few steps of my present workshop [Curwood Castle] and my room it remains unchanged. The same faded paper is on the walls, the same old magazine pictures are tacked about, and the same scant furniture and home-made shelves are there. Ghosts live within its walls to guard the priceless memories. In this room I wrote and dreamed as a boy. On the old sewing machine stand with its yellow oilcloth cover I wrote half of the thirty novels which I have published. In this room of hallowed memories I fought my way through gloom to happiness and success. In it I rose from poverty and obscurity.
— James Oliver Curwood

Curwood dreamed of being an author from early childhood. Though he lacked the writing skills, he improvised a 200,000-word novel by the time he was nine years of age. On October 21st, 1894 his first published story "The Terror of Athabasca" appeared in the local newspaper, the Owosso Evening Argus, known today as the Argus Press, one of the oldest surviving local newspapers in the countryHe was expelled from school at sixteen years of age and embarked on a bicycle tour of many of the southern states. At seventeen he travelled in a carriage selling proprietary medicines for a pharmaceutical company. Curwood returned to Michigan in 1898 and passed the entrance exam for the University of Michigan English department to study journalism. 


In 1900, in rogue artist fashion, Curwood dropped out of the University of Michigan, sold his first story, and then became a reporter for the Detroit News Tribune. Curwood told his boss that we was married, believing he'd be considered more mature and the pay might be a little better, therefore he needed a bride. He married Cora Leon Johnson (known as Leon) on January 21st, 1900 by a justice of the peace in Windsor, Ontario, across the river from Detroit, so that the marriage wouldn't be discovered by a reporter at the Detroit City Hall.

He was hired by the Detroit News Tribune to cover funerals, but six months into his position he wrote a story about a "peeping Tom" and incorrectly reported the name of the accused and was fired. The Detroit News Tribune continued to purchase his freelance stories and rehired Curwood in 1902. He worked there making his way to the assistant editor position until 1907, when he left and moved back to Owosso to start writing novels full-time.