Honolulu House


On the northwest corner of the park stands one of the most unusual pieces of architecture to be seen anywhere in the United States. This is Marshall's now famed "Honolulu House." Now well over 130 years old, it was built by Abner Pratt in 1860. He was chief justice of the Michigan Supreme Court, 1853-1857, and United States Council to Hawaii (1857-1859) under President James Buchanan.


A fine example of Italianate architecture, the Honolulu House was built in 1860. Unique for its wall and ceiling murals, it is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

It serves as Marshall Historical Society Headquarters and is open to the public May-Oct. from noon to 5 p.m., 7 days a week.

The unusual design of the house has intrigued thousands of travelers, who passing through Marshall have noticed it standing beside the small park marking for many hears the intersection of Highways US 12 and US 27. The house was said to have been copied from a building occupied by Pratt while in Hawaii.

Pratt loved the islands and regretted leaving. Once back in Marshall he set about building a reproduction of the home he has occupied during his sojourn in the islands. A house of true tropical architecture, it had fifteen-foot ceilings, ten-foot doors, long open galleries with the dining room and kitchen on the ground level and a sweeping circular stair rising to an observation platform on the roof more than thirty feet above. The platform in Hawaii would have afforded him a view of the sea and the incoming ships, but in Marshall it afforded him a view of his daughter's house directly across the street.

The staircase, an architectural wonder was made of ebony, teak, mahogany, and maple. The walls were covered with murals depicting the flora and fauna of the tropics. Colored glass panels flanked the front door.

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Excerpts used by permission from Richard Carver, all rights reserved:

A History of Marshall, 1993 by Richard Carver. Published by Donning Company, First Edition, ISBN 0-98965-854-3

$37 (plus shipping and handling)

Available from the Marshall Chamber of Commerce
424 E. Michigan Ave.
Marshall, MI 49068

or directly from the author:

Richard Carver
320 E. Hanover
Marshall MI 49068

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