As the gateway to western territory in the early 19th century, Monroe County was home to a multitude of coaching inns, taverns, boarding houses and old hotels.
These facilities offered weary travelers a number of services in addition to accommodation, including stagecoach repairs and access to veterinary care.
“The Pageant of Historic Monroe” chronicled many of these structures and locations. One interesting fact that was mentioned was the location of inns, taverns and other travel accommodations about eight miles away – which was considered a day trip at the time. Today, those same distances in Monroe and Monroe County can be covered in minutes.
William White was a leading operator of inns and taverns in Monroe County – many of which opened in the 1820s and 1830s. Sites in Newport, Brest, Ida, Petersburg and Dundee (among others) were operated by White . One would assume that this was an early example of a chain of lodging, a la Holiday Inn or Hilton.
In LaSalle, the “Ma’am Jobinu” tavern was located along the south bank of Otter Creek. Likewise, Erie (then known as Vienna) was the home of Smith’s Tavern. In Ida, the Wayside Inn was the area’s first business — known as a favored stopover on muddy roads and trails, equidistant from other taverns, according to “A Brief History of Ida, Michigan,” found on the Ida Township website.
The historic Stimpson Hotel/Danube Inn in Milan, located at 24 West Main Street in Milan, was built by Walter Stimpson in 1901. The hotel operated until 2011 when it was destroyed by fire. At Tecumseh, the first frame house built in the area (as part of Lenawee County) was built by General Brown in 1825. It was known as the Green Tavern and functioned for a period as the only house territory west of Monroe, as described in the Illustrated History and Biographical Record of Lenawee County, Michigan, written by John Knapp and Richard Illenden Bonner, which was published by the Times Printing Company in 1903.
Returning to the book “The Pageant of Historic Monroe”, another inn located in the town of Monroe claimed the name Wayside Inn. This establishment was located at the corner of South Monroe Street and Front Street. In this same neighborhood, the American House (owner, Nathan Hubble) was also located at South Monroe Street and Front Street facing Monroe. Nearby, the Red Light Tavern was near the southeast corner of Public Square.
West Front Street in Monroe housed the Murphy House (owner, James Murphy, near Hurd and Sterling) and the US Hotel (owner, Orry Adams). The Galloway Inn was found on the north side of the River Raisin and the Macomb House was built in the early 1830s on the east side of Macomb Street on the site of JB Fix. Leander Fix, a successful carpenter, mason and contractor, may have been involved in its construction.
The Harleston House sat where St. Michael’s Catholic Church currently resides. The Mansion House, built in 1835, was located on the property of Dansard Bank and operated by Leander Sackett. The Mulhollen House (First Street and Harrison), Railroad House (First Street and Hull Road), Union Humphrey House (in the Hubble Block), Strong’s Hotel (built 1859 by GW Strong – burnt in the Great Monroe Fire of 1868 and replaced by the Park Hotel in 1869) were other Monroe hotels.
The LaPlaisance (in native language – “Pleasant Retreat”), Point Aux Peaux (meaning “fur point”) and the famous Lotus Hotel complete the resorts in the Monroe County area.
Tom Adamich is president of the Visiting Librarian Service, a business he has operated since 1993. He is also a project archivist for the Greening Nursery Company and Family Archives.