Meandering Michigan Series: Marshall

I grew up in Charlotte, Michigan, just 28 minutes from Marshall. I've stopped there many times but never actually made it downtown until recently. Of all of our Michigan Meanders, Marshall might be our favorite. We will surely be back later this year. While researching Marshall, we were amazed at the number of historic landmarks, museums, homes, and interesting sites to see. The downtown shopping, restaurants, walks, historic sites, and museums, are worthy of a day trip if not a weekend staying at one of the bed and breakfasts in town.

Our first stop was the Visitor's Center located inside The Old Stone Barn, which, like many locations in Marshall, is a historic site. Built in 1857, the building was originally a livery stable, once a stagecoach stop between Coldwater and Lansing, a gas station, and later converted into city hall. A great first stop in town to gather information and get started.

Marshall's Self-Guided Walks
If you are looking for pamphlets, information, or self-guided walk maps, which we highly recommend, this is where you should go. The self-guided tours include the Historic Homes Walk, Downtown Walk, Capitol Hill Walk, River Walk, and the Oakridge Cemetery Walk. The map has information on all the walks, Historical Markers, the museums, as well as the North Country National Scenic Trail, Mill Pond, Stuart's Landing, Ketchum Park, Brooks Nature Area, Brooks Air Field, and Grever's Nature Center. Throughout Marshall, there are painted dots on the sidewalks that coordinate with the walks on the map.

The best time to visit Marshall is spring through fall when there are lots of events, and the museums are open for visiting. Saturday, May 20, is Free Museum Day, where you can visit all 8 museums for free. July 8 and 9 is the My Garden Tour, to see a video of the 2016 garden and quilt tours, click this link: September 9 and 10 is the Marshall Historic Home Tour where historic homes and the museums are open for the public to visit. 

From the Visitor's Center, you can see the Brooks Memorial Fountain, the Registered Historic Sign for Marshall, The National House Inn Bed and Breakfast, the Honolulu House Museum, downtown, and the start of the Historic Home Walk.

The National House Inn Bed and Breakfast is the oldest operating hotel in the State of Michigan and recognized as a Michigan Historical Site. Built in 1835, it's the oldest brick building in the county. It is also believed to be a stop on the Underground Railroad.  The inn offers 15 rooms with various packages and specials. While staying at the inn you can enjoy complimentary homemade breakfast each day, afternoon tea and sweets, and freshly popped popcorn each night.  The National House is a great location for those looking to stay within walking distance of Marshall's downtown and most attractions.

The homes of Harold C Brooks, Mayor of Marshall from 1925 to 1931, and his brother are part of the Historic Home Walk. The beautiful homes are located across the street from each other on the corner of N. Kalamazoo Ave. and W. Prospect St. Harold Brooks a very successful company, Brooks Rupture Appliance Co. in Marshall. The company manufactured appliances for people with hernias because, at that time, they did not repair them surgically. Brooks is noted as responsible for beautifying Marshall through the design of the Post Office, conversion of the Old Stone Barn, and presentation of the Brooks Memorial Fountain.

At the East end of town, at the end of the Historic Home Walk, there are two Historic Monuments. The first is for the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, the BLET, officially established in 1863 in Marshall. The BLET is the oldest transportation labor organization in North America. The monument was erected and dedicated in 1943.

The second monument is a large stone with a marker for the Cabin of Adam Crosswhite, the scene of an attempted Slave Recovery in 1847. Adam Crosswhite and his family fled North from Kentucky and found sanctuary in Marshall, Michigan, located on the Underground Railroad.  Kentucky slave catchers tracked the Crosswhite's to Marshall, and while attempting capture, hundreds of neighbors and citizens of Marshall congregated to stop the men. The slave catchers were arrested instead. The event, along with others like it, led to the passing of the Fugitive Slave Law, as well as eventually the Civil War. The monument was erected in 1929.

Downtown Marshall
Downtown Marshall not only includes several museums, M. Shragg Postal Museum (located in the basement of the Post Office), Walter's Gasoline Museum, American Museum of Magic, and Grand Army of the Republic Hall but also many restaurants, stores and an Artisan Market, The Realm of Creativity.  This artisan market features products by local Michigan artists including jewelry, photos, soaps, lotions, clothing, hats, glass artwork, candles, and quilts. Some of the featured crafters are Mercantile 519, Samuel's Soaps & Candles, Barb's Country Creations, The Green Flame Candle Co., DLC Glass Studio, and MiM Gear.

While downtown, it's hard to miss the historic orange and blue Rexall sign outside of Hemmingsen Rexall Drugstore.  Hemmingsen's, a family-owned store, has been in business since 1639. The Rexall Company was founded by Louis Kroh Liggett, a Detroit patent medicine salesman who convinced 40 independent drug stores to create a manufacturing cooperative for franchised drugstores in 1903.

Just a few doors down from Hemmingsen's is Louie's Bakery, a family-owned and operated business located established by Louis Bagi, in November 1952. Louie's is a great place to stop in and grab some sweet treats and a Starbucks coffee. The staff was very friendly and helpful. Louie's is a small store with a large offering of doughnuts, tarts, Danishes, cookies, cakes, breads, pies and old pan toffee. Louie's also has online ordering on their website.  We highly recommended Louie's, it was hard to choose but after leaving with several sweet treats, we knew we'd be making a return trip on our next Meander!

I have to say, I'm familiar with the Mole Hole stores, but it's been year's since I've been in a Mole Hole. I didn't realize that the Mole Hole is a chain outside of Michigan. After visiting the Mole Hole in Marshall, I did a little research and found that the Mole Hole originally started in Michigan. The Marshall location has been open for 35 years and is a great place to look for unique gifts. The store really is overflowing with home décor, books, kitchen items, candles and many other charming and unique gifts and collectibles.

The name for the Mole Hole comes from the character, Mr. Mole from the story Wind in the Willows. Attached to the Marshall location, is a boutique store, Wind in the Willows.  Wind in the Willows offers the same charm with unique clothing, jewelry, handbags, and more.

Another historic stop in Marshall is Schuler's Restaurant & Pub, originally established in 1909 by Albert Schuler. Schuler's has remained a family owned. You may be familiar with Win Schuler Bar Scheeze, created by the family in 1952. Schuler Foods and Bar-Scheeze  was sold to Vlassic Foods in 1984. In 1977, Schuler's Restaurant became a Michigan Historic Landmark Site.  If you are interested in additional historical information on the restaurant, visit the website for the full story.

Schuler's is open every day except Christmas. Schuler's describes the menu as Classic & Contemporary. The menu includes fish, seafood, steak, chicken and includes Italian, German, and classic American offerings. The Sunday Supper is described as a Comfort Food at it's Best. While in the pub, you can try an ice-cold draft pour of Schuler Brew, produced by Bell’s Brewery especially for Schuler’s. Check out the bread schedule before stopping into the bakery to be sure you can pick up your favorite loaf to take home. No worries for Sourdough lovers, it's on the daily schedule!

Green Scene Natural Living of Marshall is a must stop when downtown. Green Scene offers quality environmentally friendly consumer goods by The Beehive, Honey House Naturals, Stormy Kromer, SmartWool, Yala, Totally Bamboo,

Shops at Marshall House
The Marshall House, built in 1838 is registered as a Michigan Historic Site. For many years it was one of the largest hotels outside of Detroit. The building is now home to Quilts at Marshall House and Double D Iron Art studio. If you are a quilter, this quilt store is worth stop with more than 4000 bolts of quilting fabric, specializing in Asian, Batik, and 19th-century reproduction fabrics.

Double D Iron Art studio was not open during our visit, but many of pieces are featured outside of the building. Double D offers custom made metal pieces and sculptures.

Capital Hill Walk
The Capital Hill Walk south of downtown has the Governor's Mansion, Capital Hill School Museum, and the Calhoun County Fairgrounds. The Governor's Mansion was built because Marshall was in the running to be the capital city for the State of Michigan, however, Marshall lost to Lansing by one vote. Capital Hill School Museum built in 1860, also named for the proposed state capital and was used as a school for just over 100 years. Today, Museum visitors can see the restored 19th Century school room featuring classic children's toys and games. 

Calhoun County Fair is Michigan's oldest continuous running fair, first held in 1839. The grounds include historic buildings. Floral Hall, the oldest building on the fairgrounds, was constructed in 1860 in the then-popular octagon style. The other historic buildings include Calhoun County Fair Museum, Belcher Building, Houston School, Old Maple Grove Church.

South of Capital Hill Walk is Perrinville, Marshall's Power Plant, the Gauss Ice House, and Stuart's Landing where the Kalamazoo River flows into Mill's Pond. Stuart's Landing has a scenic walk with informational stops to learn about local fish, the Kalamazoo River, and other interesting facts. Perrinville is an informal name given to this industrial section of Marshall, named after Horace Perrin, prominent businessman and industrialist.  

Check back this summer for our follow Meander to Marshall. We'll be visiting the museums, touring homes, visiting additional historic sites, visiting the Dark House Brewery and shopping and sampling great food.

More to come from the mind of ...

To see all the photos from Meander through Marshall, use either the Google or Facebook Link below: