MARSHALL, Mich. (WOOD) — A home that once looked out of place now serves as a museum that tells the story of a United States Consul to Hawaii and the history of Marshall.
In 1860, the former chief justice of the Michigan Supreme Court and United States Consul to Hawaii, Abner Pratt, built the Honolulu House, located at 107 N. Kalamazoo Ave. near Michigan Avenue.
“He went over to Hawaii in about 1857 and ended up coming back to Marshall about 1860… and he couldn’t bring back the weather, so he brought the Honolulu House back,” Alena Guenther, museum director for Marshall Historical Society, said.
The home was constructed to echo the architecture of European homes in Hawaii. It is drastically different than the Victorian-era homes being built at the time.
“People of Marshall at the time didn’t really like the house, per se, according to what they’ve written in the newspapers of that time,” she said.
Over the years, four families have lived in the home.
“It’s a really unique blend of three different styles of architecture. It’s Gothic, Italianate and of course the Polynesian or tropical style,” Guenther said.
According to the museum’s website, the Marshall Historical Society took over the home in the 1960s. After extensive repairs and refurbishing, the museum has been styled around the 1880 period or the late-Victorian era.
When visitors enter the home, they are welcomed by a grand staircase in the foyer.
“It’s deceiving because there’s actually no upstairs to the house… This is all part of the tropical style to get the heat away from the main living space. So, the only purpose of that stairwell despite the beautiful grand staircase is to pretty much open a door to let the heat out of the house,” Guenther said.
On the first level of the home, guests can explore the formal and informal side of the home. The formal side includes a formal parlor and dining room as well as historical society offices. The informal side includes a family parlor, the morning room and the judge’s study.
“We do have artifacts from (Pratt) and his era. There’s one mural left on one of the walls that is from Abner Pratt’s time there. But everything else on the main level is kind of from the 1880s, so about 20 years after the home was built,” Guenther said.
The home features several additional murals that are from the 1880s.
“A lot of people think they are wallpaper when they walk in because it’s so impressive, but they are hand painted murals, and they are 1880s artwork,” Guenther said.
The home also displays an 1883 wedding dress from the second owner, the Cameron Family; the travel trunk from Pratt; one of Pratt’s sofas; the desk that belonged to the third owner, Martin Wagner; the china set from the last owner, Annette Bullard; and more.
In the basement, visitors can explore the family dining room, the kitchen, spare bedrooms and storage.
“I always say, ‘It’s not as big as you think.’ It looks huge from the outside just because of the height of the house, but once you get inside, it was really kind of only meant for a man and his wife to retire, and that’s kind of what Abner Pratt was going for,” Guenther said.
The Honolulu House is open in April on Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m., May 6 to October on Friday through Monday from noon to 4 p.m. and November to December on Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. for guided tours. Admission is $10 per person, children 12 and under as well as members are free. This also includes admission to the Marshall Historical Museum. For more information, visit the Marshall Historical Society’s website.