The English Inn: A New Use for a Country Estate
A building in transition through time
The English Inn southwest of Lansing is a good study of how a structure once used for residential purposes can be born again in a new role. Originally a country estate for an important automobile executive in the Lansing area, it now serves as a fine restaurant and bed and breakfast establishment for travelers and local diners. Unlike many historical houses that have fallen victim to the wrecker's ball, this building has demonstrated a knack for survival that has spanned the years. As will be seen, it has played several roles in its lifetime.
History of the property
The history of this distinguished property dates to 1927 and America's "Jazz Age". Irving Reuter had achieved high executive status at the Oldsmobile Corporation, and was general manager and president. He acquired some fifteen acres of land sloping down to the Grand River, Michigan's longest. He envisioned a splendid house rising on the property, as would befit a Twenties tycoon. Initially christened "Medovue" by Reuter, it was used for some years for lavish entertaining by Reuter and his wife Janet. In addition to his status as an auto mogul, Reuter was also an enthusiastic horseman. From 1940 to 1962, the Roman Catholic Church owned the property and actually had a dormitory inside the main house. In 1989, the building was converted into its present status as an inn and restaurant.
The structure today
Today, the property has evolved into a successful business. It features overnight guest accomodations and several dining rooms all tastefully appointed. The guest rooms are furnished with antiques, large fireplaces and fine inlaid woods. Beyond the rooms, there are banquet and convention facilities for those larger occasions. Although the general feel is retro, contemporary needs such as free Wi Fi are not overlooked. Outdoors, the lovely lawns and gardens are obviously photo opportunities for everything from weddings to class reunions. The property is listed in the State Register of Historic Sites and OpenTable has called it one of the top one hundred most romantic restaurants in the United States! With so many accolades and superlatives, it is no wonder that the English Inn stands out as a special destination, well worth a detour to reach.
A national lesson
Beyond the mid-Michigan area, there is a lesson to be learned from this experience. It demonstrates that a significant local landmark can enjoy a rebirth in a new role and that it can grow with new times and changes. In a time where the past is soon forgotten and where heritage sites are seemingly razed everyday, a fine old house can be remade into a thriving business without inconvenience to either commerce or preservationists. To quote from a recent television commercial, at the English Inn, "they're making every night count."