A Rich Heritage
By Jackie Sheckler Finch
Strolling along tree-lined streets and admiring historic homes, I can easily understand why people fall in love with the charming city of Marshall. With an impressive 845 buildings in the nation’s largest National Historic Landmark District in the Small Urban category, the city warms my heart with its impeccable historical preservation and restoration.
“Marshall is very proud of our history, eight museums, and historic buildings,” says Kimber Thompson, director of tourism for Choose Marshall. “The Choose Marshall Welcome Center has developed many walking tours that can be enjoyed while in town or even virtually from our website.”
For starters, one of the most unusual examples of architecture that I have seen in America is the Honolulu House. Built in 1860 by Abner Pratt, U.S. Council to the Sandwich Islands (now called Hawaii) under President James Buchanan, the home pairs Pratt’s favorite Polynesian influences from Hawaii with the classic Italianate and Gothic Revival architecture that is common in Marshall. A true tropical touch, the Honolulu House has a sweeping circular staircase made of ebony, teak, mahogany, and maple, as well as wall murals depicting Hawaiian flora and fauna. The stairs rise to an observation platform more than 31 feet above. In Hawaii, I can imagine how the platform would have provided a striking view of the ocean. In Marshall, the rooftop overlooks Courthouse Square and Pratt’s daughter’s home, which was located directly across the street.
A fascinating tidbit I learned while touring the Governor’s Mansion Museum was that Marshall once hoped to become Michigan’s capital. Marshallite James Wright Gordon, who became state governor in 1841, built a Greek Revival-inspired mansion for the official state capital residence of the Michigan’s chief executive. However, the home was never occupied by a governor because Lansing was chosen as state capital in 1847.
As a fine end to my day, I hopped on a trolley for a complimentary ride offered every Friday and Saturday night from 5 to 11 p.m. by the Marshall Trolley Co. The 13-seat trolley has eight stops on an hourlong ride. I rode the entire loop to get a better look at Marshall and savor the lovely sights.
Photos Provided by Choose Marshall