ROSS TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The 12,000-square-foot Tudor mansion known as the W.K. Kellogg Manor House, sitting on 32 acres along Gull Lake, is open so the public can explore its rich history.
“It was (W.K. Kellogg’s) summer home. (He) and his second wife Dr. Carrie Staines lived here for about 14 summers,” Nicole Kokx, sales and events coordinator for the Kellogg Biological Station Conference Center and Manor House, said.
When W.K. Kellogg died in 1951, the house became the property of Michigan State University. After it was refurbished, it was opened to the public in 1998. It became open for tours and special events in 2000.
“It is set up as though it is a time period in which they lived here,” Kokx said. “It was finished in 1927 so it has furnishings to look similar to that time.”
On the first level of the mansion, visitors can explore the foyer and have a seat in the sunken living room.
“The home is Tudor in style and there are a lot of architectural details as you go through the living room including a rose and thistle plastered ceiling,” Kokx said.
During WWII, army soldiers stayed at the manor while they recovered from injuries.
“At that time, Percy Jones Hospital in Battle Creek was having a very difficult time housing soldiers. They may be wounded but not in such a way that they still needed to be at the hospital themselves, so they maybe could recover at home but mind you, they didn’t necessarily have a home nearby to do that,” Kokx explained.
There was a call during that time for people to open their homes and help house the soldiers.
“W.K. Kellogg heard of that and with such a large home, he was very quick to respond and say, ‘Myself and my wife do not need to remain in this residence, we can move out and allow the Army (and) Percy Jones Hospital to take over,'” she said.
In the first three months, more than 3,000 soldiers passed through the home. It’s unclear how many stayed there over the two years it was occupied by the Army.
“We do have a history tour, an extension of the regular manor house tour, that we do offer to organized groups where we have a lot of details, great photos, posters and information that shares that time period in which the soldiers resided here,” Kokx said.
On the main level, visitors can also explore the library, breakfast nook, kitchen, office space and formal dining room.
A hand-carved staircase leads to the upstairs landing. Kokx said it took two Italian craftsmen two years to carve.
“There is (also) an elevator for any guests with mobility issues,” she said.
On the second level, there are bedrooms, bathrooms, offices and a sleeping porch that W.K. Kellogg used to sleep in on warm nights.
“The final room is a billiards room. That billiards room was used for entertaining guests that he may have had to the home. It’s also a place where he would show western movies and showcase some of his Arabian horses, which the descendants of those horses still remain out in Pomona, California. They were featured in a lot of western films…” Kokx said.
Outside the mansion, visitors can explore two three-season porches, the gardens, a windmill from the Netherlands and more.
“The estate itself is absolutely beautiful with a lot of gardens and unique trees. We actually have six champion trees on the property,” Kokx said.
There are also additional buildings on the property that guests can walk by and a few that can be rented. One is the Carriage House, which Kokx said has been turned into a classroom that can be rented for events and meetings.
“There are two cottages on there, the Lakeside Cottage and the Caretaker’s Cottage… We rent (them) to the general public for lodging,” Kokx said.
The manor house is open for self-guided tours Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Visitors are asked to call 269.671.2160 before visiting to make sure the home hasn’t been rented out for a special event.
“We do have two open houses in April and August. Those dates vary but that’s a Sunday. It’s open to the public (and) there’s no fee,” Kokx said, adding that the Holiday Market is open on Saturdays running from the day after Thanksgiving through the Saturday before Christmas.
For a list of upcoming events, click here.
The manor is open for organized group tours by reservation during closed hours. Those are $7 per person. For more information call 269.671.2160 or email Manorhouse@kbs.msu.edu.
For more information about the W.K. Kellogg Manor House, visit the Michigan State University website. You can view a PDF of the property here.