The National House Inn bed and breakfast on Marshall’s picturesque Fountain Circle is the oldest operating hotel in the State of Michigan. It has been designated as a State Historical site and is also listed on the National Register of Historical Places. The Inn was built in 1835 by Colonel Andrew Mann who used lumber from the Ketchum sawmill and bricks that were molded and fired on the site to construct what has endured as the oldest brick building in Calhoun County. It is believed to be a stop on the Underground Railroad.
Located two dusty days and nights by stagecoach from Detroit, the National House served as a welcome halfway haven for early travelers on the way to Chicago. With the arrival of the Michigan Central Railroad in 1844, the Inn’s fortunes became closely tied to the “Iron Horse,” and its function for the next 30 years was that of a railroad hotel.
In 1878, having gone through several owners and changes of name, the National House closed its doors as a hotel, the victim of dining cars and Pullman sleepers. At that time the building was converted to a factory devoted to the manufacture of windmills and farm wagons. An 1895 photograph of the Inn in this capacity is on display in the lobby.
In 1902 the building was purchased by Dr. Dean, a local veterinarian, who remodeled the National House into eight luxury apartments. As Dean’s Flats, the Inn passed the first three-quarters of the 20th century gradually falling into misuse and disrepair.
By 1976 it was clear that something had to be done. Help arrived in the form of dedicated restorationists Norm and Kathryn Kinney and Hal and Jacque Minick. As a bicentennial gift to the community, they proposed to restore the National House to its original purpose, that of a quaint country inn. Through hard work, imagination and volunteer efforts from friends in Marshall, it reopened for business on Thanksgiving of 1976. Today, the current owners continuously upgrade and renovate this nationally recognized bed and breakfast inn.
Barbara Bradley, Innkeeper