Monday, September 16, 2013

Vacation road trip #1

*Warning - lots of pictures!
I told you yesterday that for our week off, Bob and I both planned some fun days.  Monday was my day to plan.  I had read reports in our local paper about an old mansion that had been renovated and was open for tours.  These reports caught my eye because the person who headed up the restoration was someone I graduated with.  This mansion is between Holland and Saugatuck, Michigan, near the shore of Lake Michigan.  It's about 45 minutes from our house - perfect for a day trip!
Bob had no idea where I was taking him until we came turned onto the road this is on, and we saw a sign that said 'Felt Mansion".

This was our first view of the mansion - this is the back of it.  My classmate found this when she was hiking in the dunes, boarded up with pine branches growing through the dormers.  It was going to be demolished and I'm so glad she started the restoration project.

Here is the building from the front.  It was built by Dorr Felt, who was a wealthy Chicago businessman.  He built to be used as a summer home between 1925 and 1928.  Unfortunately Mrs Felt died only 6 weeks after they moved into the house, and Mr Felt passed away 1 1/2 years later.
It was bought by a Catholic prep school in 1949 and a group of cloistered nuns lived in the mansion.  
It the late 1970's the State of Michigan bought the property to use as a prison.  The mansion was used as offices.  This continued until the 1990's when the county bought it and it was left dormant, until 2004 when the restoration was started.  The goal is to restore the properties and grounds to the condition they were in, in 1929.

This is the front entry.  Come in and I'll share a few of the beautiful rooms inside.

Here is the entry - you can see the door open that I just showed you.  The woodwork is just gorgeous.  The woodwork on the stairway is all original.

The Library is very inviting.  When the restoration was started many people donated things hat had been purchased at an auction in 1949, which is when the mansion was sold by the family.  Now many of the books in the library are ones that were originally owned by Dorr Felt.

The Dining room originally had special wallpaper with scenes selected by the Felts.  When it was restored, a talented local artist painted those scenes onto the wall.

 The kitchen looks much like it did originally but the microwave is a new addition!

This is the master bedroom,  and the dress displayed was one of Mrs. Felts.

The bedroom has a beautiful sunroom connected to it.

This shower was very state of the art for 1928.  Take note of the shower heads on the ceiling and also in the corners of the shower.

The entire third floor is a ballroom.

Dorr Felt had these star light fixtures made especially for the ballroom.

Looking down into the entryway from the second floor.

This little church is the Gibson church.  It was moved 2 miles to the Felt property to save it from demolition.  This church was the site of one of the Felt daughters weddings and is now situated near the house.


This is the carriage house and is next in line for restoration.  It originally had large doors on the bottom floor, where the family cars where kept.  The upper level had living quarters for the chauffer and other staff.

This woodwork is original to the building and I know it'll be beautiful when restored.

Here's one last view of the mansion from the pond/fountain area.  The big tent is set up for weddings, which are held regularly here.
We had a bonus while touring the mansion - my friend from high school was working so I got to talk to her.  She have us tickets to come back at Christmas and told us it's beautifully decorated.  She also gave me a book she wrote about the restoration!

From here we traveled on to South Haven.  I had heard of a place called Sunset Junque - a place selling antiques and collectibles.   It's one acre, filled with stuff.

This is what most of the property looked like.  We found lots of stuff we weren't interested in and lots of stuff we liked that was far to expensive for us.

I loved all the old doors and windows, but don't have a place to put them.  We did buy one thing here, that Bob fixed up, so I'll show it to you tomorrow.

We ended our day wandering through some of the fun shops in South Haven and then had supper at Clementines.  It's a fun restaurant to go to, in an old bank that has been restored.  Take note of the original tin ceiling in this picture.

Clemintines are known for their stack of onion rings.  We tried them and agreed that they lived up to their reputation.  
It was a fun day!


Jean Stauffer said...

Incredible!!!!! I would just love to go through that gorgeous mansion, but your pictures are terrific. What a great day trip you two had!

Susan said...

What a beautiful mansion. I am so glad it was saved and restored. I personally almost think it is a crime not to maintain and keep treasures like that. It sounds like a wonderful day!!!!!

Mari said...

WoW Mar'! Can I go on a road trip with you? How do you hear of these things?! Very fun!

Betsy Brock said...

I'm so glad that lovely mansion was saved and's gorgeous! The little church is cute, too, and fun to think of their daughters having their weddings in it.

My Alex would love that onion ring tower! lol....

Connie said...

Ken & I went thru this mansion a few years ago. It is remarkable.

Connie said...

Ken & I went thru this mansion a few years ago. It is remarkable.

Jennifer said...

What a gorgeous mansion. It looks like you two had a very nice day. Thank you for sharing your photos. :)

LL Cool Joe said...

That is a beautiful mansion. I'd hate to live in, it would be far too old for me, but I can understand why people would find it beautiful. It's nice to see things restored to their former glory, so that we have examples of what places used to look like. The National Trust do that here in the UK although I have no desire to go and see them! :D Although they are perfect venues for Weddings!

Simply Linda said...

singing-I have been to that house! Really, I have. Awesome onion rings!! WELCOME HOME! You have been missed. Blessings

Beth (A Mom's Life) said...

What a beautiful mansion! Sounds like you guys had a great day together. Can't see what you bought and Bob fixed up!

linda eller said...

You made a good choice for the first trip of your vacation. Beautiful mansion, inside and out.


Ironic: I was just asking Bud if he knows of a place that served hot delicious Onion Rings here. I'm craving them. NOW I'm drooling!!

Wow, the restoration is a marvel!! What a day trip. I would've so enjoyed it.

And those shops...with antiques/junk, to me, are ALWAYS over priced. But still fun to go through.

Anonymous said...

The mansion has such gorgeous architecture and furnishings.
Sweet little church, too; so happy it was saved from demolition.
I could eat two stacks of those onions! I always share your blog posts with John, who recognizes most of the places from childhood.

ancient one said...

I really liked what y'all did on your day to decide... Perfect way to spend the day. Thanks for all the beautiful pictures. Makes me feel as if I went along with you....

Cindy said...

wow-what a great day you had! and those onion rings look to-die-for! yummy! :)

Jenni said...

Beautiful!! I'm so glad the mansion wasn't demolished, it's such an amazing place! Wish we lived close enough to go see it.

Terri D. said...

Mari, what a great day!! The mansion is just lovely, and thank goodness for your friend and the restoration crew. Just beautiful. The antique shop looks like lots of fun, too. Can't wait to see what you found to buy. Thanks for taking us along on your adventure!!

Shelly said...

That mansion is amazing and I love how you tell us the whole story so we can understand what it's all about. What a fund day for you and your hubby! :)

Jenny the Pirate said...

I think you and Bob have the gift and the knack for finding wonderful, interesting, and educational (in a good way) places to "vacation" not far from home. I think that's far better than some old cruise or a resort where the main activity everyone is engaged in, is drinking. This place is so beautiful and your pictures really showed it off to its fullest potential. I want to visit that junque store and then challenge you to a duel eating onion rings!

Rebecca said...

My computer is REALLY jumpy this morning so I'm going to comment here for a couple of posts.

I DO like your "yard art" piece! It's really beautiful, Mari.

And this mansion! I really must find it. It sounds like this would be an amazing sight at Christmas.

Mari, this week we placed our parents in a nursing home. Dad for rehabbing after open heart surgery; mother in a memory unit in same facility. It has been a difficult week. It is NOT the home in their community, but all the beds were filled I guess we have one more move ahead for mother when a bed opens in the memory unit there. Dad, we hope will be able to return to their condo and probably should soon transition to a smaller independent living situation in the complex....

We were very happy with the individuals who were working in the present place. I'm so thankful for people like you (and them) who are there with both skill and heart to care for our parents.

Your vacation sounds fabulous!