Banfield Home, 307 Division...
Banfield Home, 307 Division St., Marshall, MI During the annual home tour, the lines can be very long such as the line in front of the Banfield Home, A Gothic Revival home built in 1880. To avoid long lines, the best time to visit is at the end of the day.
McClain home, 303 N. Marshall...
McClain home, 303 N. Marshall Ave., Marshall, MI The McClain home, a Queen Anne built in 1887 with Gothic alcove roofs, has a large porch that wraps around the left side of the house. The interior features many antiques, hand-knotted Persian rugs and original oil paintings. During the annual Home Tour, the biggest event of the year, there were a group of singers on the front porch to entertain visitors who waited to enter the house, a lady who sold beeswax candles and a local Girl Scout Troop who sold refreshments.
One of America's best preserved Victorian towns
About three hours east of Chicago or two hours west of Detroit, there is a special little gem that is one of America's best preserved small towns from the Victorian era. The railroads were the backbone of the town's wealth and its secret status as a well known stop on the underground railroad held a special place in the town's heart.
In addition, the people were so confident that Marshall would become the state capital that they built the governor's mansion before the election. Imagine their surprise when they lost by one vote. Today, the mansion is one of nearly 150 beautifully preserved homes and public buildings. Welcome to Marshall, Michigan.
* Discovering Victorian Marshall
* Gardening festival, a floral photo feast
* Historic homes
* Tranquil charm around town
(If you enjoy historic American towns such as Marshall, visit DaKat's "Natchez" page to discover one of the most beautifully preserved anti-bellum towns in the Old South)
The Honolulu House is one of the landmark homes in Marshall. It was built in 1860 by Abner Pratt, a local justice who became US Counsel to the Sandwich Islands (later known as Hawaii) in the 1850s. The Governor was so enthralled with the exotic land that his home was inspired by Hawaiian designs. He was also so taken with Hawaii that he adopted the Hawaiian style of dress when he returned. Unfortunately, this isn't a good idea for the colder climate of Michigan. He became sick and died.
Here's a 1935 Auburn car in front of the the Way-Lehman-Mererild House which is a modified Queen Anne-styled home built in 1853 and extensively remodeled in 1884 (See the main photo at the main page to see the house). In 1895, the family added a carriage house behind the house.
In 1873, Jerimiah Cronin Jr. built his home in the style of a Tuscan Villa at the same time that he built a dry goods store on the main street of the town.
Jabez Fitch arrived in Marshall in 1838. Two years later, he built this Greek Revival home which is now listed on the Historic American Building Survey. The home has been the residence of a US Minister to The Netherlands and also a town patron.
The Hughes Sisters, Susan and Letitia, were well known dressmakers and milliners who built this Italianate home in 1870. The residence was recently restored to a single family home.
When John Cawood built this home in the style of an Italian Villa in 1868, it was originally a simple square building with both a front and side entrance.
This home is the Rose Hill Inn, a beautiful bed and breakfast inn where I slept during the garden festival last year (See lodging tips for a photo of one of the bedrooms furnished with period antiques). This Italian Villa styled home was built in 1860 by a wealthy farmer and later the home of W.D. Boyce, founder of the Boy Scouts.
A closer look at the Rose Hill Inn.
One of America's best preserved Victorian towns
Marshall is a little piece of beautifully-preseved Victorian America and located about two hours west of Detroit, Michigan. During the middle 1800s, Marshall was an important stop for the railroad, so the city prospered. Being that Marshall was somewhat close to the Canadian border, it was also an important stop on the underground railroad, a system of "safe houses" that helped escaped slaves to flee the slavery of the south to find their freedom in Canada.
Today, there are approximately 150 intact historical homes and public buildings dating from roughly the 1830s - 1880s. The signature home is probably the Honolulu House (see the main page). After a position as the governer of the Sandwich Islands (Later known as Hawaii), the folklore says that the man returned to Marshall to build a home in the Hawaiian style. He also took to wearing Hawaiian clothing which is just not a good idea for a Michigan winter. As a result, he became sick and died.
The biggest event of the year is the annual Home Tour in early September when roughly 10 to 15 of the privately owned homes open to the public. Thousands attend (I met a woman from Cape Town although she's been living in the US for a while). Sometimes the line to enter a home is long, but Marshall is prepared. There is entertainment and a craft demostration at each house to keep people occupied. For example, there might be a woman playing the harp or a barbershop quartet singing on the front porch while an elderly lady demostrates the art of caning chairs in the yard and children sell cans of Coke from their wagon to the people in line. There's also an art and antique fair in the main square and food booth selling local specialities such as "Yooper Pasties" which are meat and vegetables baked in a type of pie crust.
In July, another popular event is the "Welcome to my Garden" tour in which five to seven private gardens are open to the public. Each garden is thoughtfully designed and unique while special touches, such as goldfish in the ponds, are added for the event.
A couple of the homes have also been turned into bed and breakfast inns that make peaceful weekend retreats or romantic getaways. I especially like the Rose Hill Inn, once the home of a wealthy farmer and later the man who started the Boy Scouts. The owners will give a tour and explain the history of the home, lead guests to their rooms filled with period antiques, cook a huge breakfast with local recipees and introduce Pinkerton, their friendly house cat who weighs close to 25 pounds.
Marshall is a relatively small town and party animals will have to content themselves with either a drink in the town's main pub or a stroll to the beautiful fountain in the main square (see above). At night, both the water and the lights change colors many times as if the water were "performing."
There are two popular restaurants. Win Schuler has been around for year and known for a special cheese dip that originated at that restaurant. Malea serves northern Italian dishes in an intimate atmosphere as there are only about ten tables. Unfortunately, I couldn't eat at Malea. There was a kitchen fire that night, so the restaurant was closed for a couple of days. But that's ok. This only gives another reason to return and possibly for the annual Christmas Walk in which the homes are lavishly decorated for the holidays.