By Steve Ellis
Marshall is only about a 45-minute drive. It’s like taking a step back in time.
It was founded in 1830 and was originally expected to be the state capital. In the mid-1850s, dozens of doctors, lawyers and business folks flocked to Marshall and built extravagant buildings and houses.
Many of these classic homes and buildings are still standing and have been restored to their original splendor. Marshall is now home to one of the largest National Historic Landmark districts in the United States, with over 850 buildings included.
Over the years, Jackie and I have spent several days exploring Marshall and always had a great time.
We typically park on Main Street and walk the half-mile-long downtown area. Almost every storefront is occupied, and most have interesting window displays. Many of the colorful brick buildings are three or four stories tall and have been well maintained. My must stops are the handful of great antique stores and art galleries. Amazing Grace Antiques is not your average antique store and East End Studio and Gallery, is well worth a stop. If you ask, they may let you peek upstairs, where an old ballroom is being restored.
A few years ago, a friend mentioned that Pastrami Joe’s, tucked away on a side street, is the place for lunch. We tried it and our favorite is the corned beef sandwich, large enough for the two of us.
Louie’s Bakery has been around since the 1950’s and is a highly recommended stop. We browsed the huge selection of baked goods before buying a bag of doughnuts and cookies. A business owner we met told us he makes a doughnut run every morning and always asks each employee for a second choice, as it so popular that many varieties are gone by 9 a.m.
We walked and drove through the historic neighborhoods, admiring the wonderful architecture. There are a few square miles of gorgeous Victorian era homes. As we turned each corner, Jackie would point out her new favorite.
Marshall’s downtown and neighborhoods have a very quiet, laid-back feel, one that gives visitors a real sense of what it might have been like living in a town like this a hundred years ago.
Just south of downtown, we stumbled on the Dark Horse Brewery. The brewery has thousands of hand-crafted beer mugs hanging from every square inch of space. We ordered a pizza, sampled their most popular brew and were not disappointed. Dark Horse also offers live music and has a large outdoor stage in warmer months. The Grand River Brewing Company, in a corner, classic three-story brick building, will be a stop on a future visit.
The most well-known business in town is Schuler’s Restaurant and Pub. Schuler’s opened in 1909 and later grew to 10 locations across Michigan and Indiana, including one in Kalamazoo. Over the years, the other locations closed, but Schuler’s in Marshall is still in its original location.
Marshall is home to eight museums including the Walter’s Gasoline Museum, The U.S. Post Office Museum and the American Museum of Magic, which touts the largest collection of magic artifacts in the U.S.
So if you are looking for something fun to do, take a short drive over to Marshall.
You won’t be disappointed!
By Steve Ellis