Mann's Hotel, as the villagers called it, was formally opened on New Years Eve 1836 with the first ball held in Marshall. Prentiss S. Hewitt, a Marshall lawyer was one of the managers of the affair. It seems that this first celebration was only the beginning as the following April a "Soiree De Dansante" was held (the announcements printed in stylish French) and on July 4, 1836, Independence Day was celebrated. According to an old account, "The table was graced with roast pigs set every eight feet, flanked front and rear with wine bottles." These celebrations continued for some twenty years until 1855. The stagecoaches stopped at the hotel and the horse barns were located on the south side of the hotel.
An early letter gives some indication of hotels and hospitality in Marshall at this time. Judge James Smith wrote:
At Detroit we and several passengers took an open wagon called a Stage and after jolting along for two days and two nights through mud and swamps, we reached Marshall about sunset. The state landed us at the only public house in the Lower village and the landlord met us at the door. On seeing the passengers dismount, instead of greeting us with a welcome, he began to storm about and exclaimed angrily that he wished every steamboat on Lake Erie would burn up or sink. He declared that he did not want anymore people to stop with him, for his womenfolk were worn out already with extra work. Tired and hungry, we were somewhat dismayed at this inhospitable demonstration and began to wonder where we could find shelter for the night. But some of the more experienced travelers pleaded with the irate landlord and presented our needy condition so persuasively that he finally consented to see what he could do for us, and after a delay of some interval a plain but plentiful supper was spread before us, and in due time we were provided with beds which we occupied as couples.
In 1836 and the early part of 1837 the circuit court and most of the county meetings were held at Mann's Hotel. In later years after the Court House was built it continued to be a meeting place for county officials. An old letter stated that those who spent the night there found the outhouses unsurpassed by any in Michigan.
In 1837 Andrew Mann leased his hotel to Volney S. Allcott who renamed it the National House. It became the rallying point of the Lower Village and headquarters for the Democratic party. The building changed hands several times in the years that followed. In 1840 Colonel Alvah Mann bought the hotel and his manager offered "Board to village gentlemen at $2.00 a week."
The National House Inn, 616 781-7374