Later this year, you can sleep under a century-old horse feeder and brush your teeth on the morning some of Ludington’s first bigwigs milked their cows.
This is part of the experience that will be offered once the freshly renovated shed behind Cartier Mansion opens as guest rooms.
Even though it was redesigned to house people rather than horses, it was important that the old stable kept its “original look,” said Jenna Simpler, owner of Cartier Mansion.
“We wanted to capture a lot of that story and be able to continue to showcase the elements of what it looked like at the time, minus the hay,” Simpler said.
The shed is located behind the classic yellow brick mansion on Ludington Avenue. It was built at the same time as the mansion, which was completed in 1905.
The mansion was originally home to double mayor Warren Cartier and his wife, Kate. Cartier was the son of a 19th century timber baron and had many business interests in the area.
Simpler and her husband Chris bought the property in November. The previous owners had converted the mansion into guest rooms in 2005, but had made extensive use of the shed for storage.
“(The shed) was in good overall condition which made it much easier for us to go to what it is today,” said Simpler. It had already been fitted with electricity and plumbing.
In the stable on the first floor of the shed, the vertical bars of the original stable separate the bed from a corner with two chairs and a fireplace. A saddle hangs next to a flat-screen TV.
The original horse feeder still hangs above the bed. A cow would once have lived where a toggle shower was installed.
Across a hallway, the shed suite will be decorated as a tribute to Kate Cartier’s 1917 Detroit-made electric car, which she often parked in the suite, Simpler said. The suite will also be accessible to people with disabilities.
Relics from the mansion’s basement will decorate the main hallway on the first floor, including gas barrels that Warren Cartier would use to power his house.
“A lot of these cool pieces will be here as a quasi-museum for guests to learn about the history up close,” said Simpler.
Two bedrooms upstairs called “hayloft suites” can each accommodate four people.
High windows project light into the suites. Their location near the ceiling reflects the original occupant of the rooms: the hay. After all, “hay doesn’t have to look on the outside,” Simpler said.
Light from every window shines on the sofas of the newly built platforms, perfect for reading, Simpler said.
After the days when the Cartier’s stored hay upstairs, Geneviève Schoenberger taught dance there after she and her husband bought the mansion in 1950.
“Many generations of Ludington families and their little ones have danced here,” said Simpler.
Walter Bobrowski, a local of Ludington, created a 16 x 20 inch digital artwork to hang in the shed. The piece uses photos of the mansion and the shed that he treated to appear like a watercolor.
He combined elements from several photos to create a view unblocked by utility poles, bushes, or parked cars.
Bobrowski said he tried to capture an “intangible connection” similar to how memories are sometimes blurry, missing a level of detail.
The stable suite already has a reservation for this weekend for what Simpler has called its “soft opening,” and it expects the remaining three bedrooms to follow suit when final inspections pass.
The discount is slated to have a grand opening ceremony in September, Simpler said.