The Henderson Castle is a historic bed and breakfast in Kalamazoo, Michigan. This BedandBreakfast.com Diamond Collection inn has a brand new owner/innkeeper, Francois Moyet, who kindly took the time to answer the following questions for us about the inn and his vision for it.
1. What do you enjoy most about being an innkeeper?
Everything about it is enjoyable. The fact than you welcome people as if they were a friend and family. They share stories and experiences. I have been a restaurateur for the last 25 year and it is somewhat similar but also very different. We are building a much better relationship with stronger bonds.
2. How long have you been an innkeeper?
For the last 3 years.
3. What was your inspiration for your inn? Did you have a certain vision for it?
The historical aspect of the castle interested me. As a French master chef and naturopath/art lover, it was a no-brainer to embrace this wonderful opportunity to own my own place where I can develop an upscale French fine dining restaurant combined with a world class naturopathic spa. My goal is to grow my aromatic herbs for my cuisine and medicinal herbs for my naturopathic practice as soon as possible so that next year we can start to use our own products.
4. Why did you choose this inn and this city?
I had a restaurant in Kalamazoo for the last 15 years; it is a fantastic community that is extremely wealthy and generous with a very liberal and artistic flavor. It is the only city in Michigan that was out of the recession, according to a special report from MSNBC back in June 2009.
5. What sets your B&B apart from others?
It is a registered site with the National Historical Society. The original castle was built in 1895. It sits on the top of a west main hill overlooking the city of Kalamazoo. It has a hot tub on the roof and a spa with two saunas, plus a massage room. We are on 4 acres of land with our own vineyard and orchard.
6. Why do you think travelers should choose B&Bs over hotels?
Going to a B&B allows you to be directly connected with the locals and get a true flavor of the area. If you go to a Hilton in New York and then to Seattle, you will have a great experience in terms of hospitality and service, but they really look all the same and don't have any personality and spirit like we do with B&Bs.
7. Does your B&B have any special history?
Henderson Castle, built in 1895, has been recently renovated. The history of the home began with Frank Henderson. Mr. Henderson was one of early Kalamazoo’s most successful businessmen. He was the owner and president of Henderson-Ames Company. Henderson-Ames made uniform regalia for secret societies, fraternal organizations, and the military. Mr. Henderson’s wife, Mary, had inherited a plot of undeveloped land on the western edge of Kalamazoo before the company's large success and Mr. Henderson dreamt of a grand suburb on this land. Allowing that dream to come to fruition, in 1888, he enlisted the help of surveyors, engineers, and landscape architects to plot the land and create Kalamazoo’s first "natural site plan." In 1890, Mr. Henderson was ready to build his home in his new residential district.
The Queen Anne style house was designed by C. A. Gombert of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The $72,000 building costs included seven baths (one with a thirteen-head shower), an elevator, a third-floor ballroom, and a hot tub on the roof (added later). The castle’s exterior was constructed of Lake Superior sandstone and brick, and the interior wood included mahogany, bird's eye maple, quartered oak, birch, and American sycamore. The castle was built with 25 rooms in all and exemplified the most expensive tastes of the time.
The Hendersons had a grand housewarming party in 1895 at the completion of the castle's construction. Mr. Henderson died in 1899; however, his wife remained at the castle until 1908. Since Mrs. Henderson moved away, nine parties have owned Henderson Castle.
8. What makes your town worth visiting—are there any interesting local attractions or activities?
Absolutely; we have the Kalamazoo Aviation Museum, Kellogg’s, Bells's Brewery, and St. Julian and Warner Wineries (one of the oldest in the US). We have several art museums and the Gilmore Car Museum, and of course a lot of great and small lakes for boating, swimming, and canoeing. You can go skiing or ride a snow mobile in the winter, or relax on the beach in the summer time. There are also great restaurants and historical areas.
9. Do you have any food specialties?
Yes, my specialty is tableside cooking recipes. For breakfast, this is usually omelets or oeuf brouille (scrambled eggs), and for dinner steak diane falmbe at the table or drunken lobster, cherry jubille, crepe suzette, etc.
10. Do you have any special offers coming up?
Yes, every week, I post Hot Deals, so be sure to check them out!