When the house was painstakingly restored and turned into an inn in the 1980's, great care was taken by former owners Lou and Annette Conti to bring back the elegance and attention to detail that would have been original to the home. They brought in talented artisans to paint stunning stenciling, apply incredible faux-graining to wood, and to install historic wall treatments including Lincrusta embossed wallcovering, and Bradbury & Bradbury papers. These details -- along with the home's original woodwork and hardware, 13' ceilings, and the stunning crystal chandelier in the Breakfast Room -- provide a real sense of history and elegance for our guests.
Sometimes the story of a house can be told in terms of the people who have visited it over the years. The impressive Queen Anne Victorian at 447 W. South Street is a popular downtown bed and breakfast inn operated by Laurel and Terry Parrott, who have welcomed visitors from 49 U.S. states and more than 25 foreign countries since moving to Kalamazoo to purchase the inn in the summer of 2007.
During its first 50 years or so, the house welcomed the friends and acquaintances of a series of families who resided in the beautiful home near Bronson Park. The house was built in 1878 for the family of David Lilienfeld, a wealthy German immigrant who with his brother William owned the Lilienfeld Brothers Cigar Company, the largest company of a thriving industry of cigar makers in Kalamazoo prior to 1900. Mr. Lilienfeld also imported beer and whiskey, and operated an upscale downtown drinking establishment called The Brunswick.
For the second 50 years of the home's life, beginning in 1932, visitors to the house were attending funerals of Kalamazoo residents as the house served the community as the Donovan (and later the Donovan-Betzler) Funeral Home.
When the building was slated for destruction in 1985, it was saved by prominent local restorers and turned into a hotel named "The Kalamazoo House" after the city's impressive first hotel from a century before. With the exception of a few years when it sat idle, the inn has welcomed travelers to Kalamazoo ever since, and long-time Kalamazoo residents will remember dining at Lilie's Restaurant at the Kalamazoo House at the beginning of this milennium.