The Montague Inn was built in 1929 &1930 by Mr . Robert Montague and his wife Edwina. They had two children, Robert and Mary Sage. The family has been deceased for many years. The acreage of the property for the mansion was 12,000 square feet, and it cost approximately $120,000 when it was built during the Depression. The Montagues lived in the portion of the home facing Washington Avenue. The servants lived in a portion to the home running along the North side. A five-car garage is located to the rear of the property. Their property was about two acres in size and has Lake Linton ( a slip of the Saginaw River) bordering the property to the West. They had a cook, gardener, chauffeur and two maids that worked for them. A seamstress would come to their home regularly to take care of the mending. The family only stayed there during the winter months; they lived in a cottage up North during the summer months ("History of the Montague").
Mr. Montague started his own business called SBS Products, Inc. He developed a way to use sugar beet by-products to make hand creams and soap. After his death in the early 1950s, his business was sold to the Andrew Jergens Company. In the early 1960s, the City of Saginaw purchased the home from the estate. The City's Detective Bureau and Public Health Department
held offices in the mansion for fifteen years. In 1979, the offices were moved and the home was vacant for five years, until the City decided to sell the home and all eight acres for development. The new owners were five couples. Aaron and Ann Acker, John and Meg Ideker, Mike and Carole Kiefer, Norman and Kathryn Kinny, and Les and Marion Tincknell took eight months to restore the home with their friends, who volunteered their services. The Inn was reopened in June of 1986 ("History of the Montague").
This Inn offers lodging 365 days per year, and offers seventeen guest rooms named after the Montague family and important people in Saginaw. The Goodridge Room is one of the famous rooms along with the Acker Suite that was in memory of previous owner, Mr. Acker. Lunch and dinner are served Monday through Saturday, consisting of American cuisine. It hosts special occasions such as business conferences, weddings and receptions, Christmas parties and many business and family gatherings. Julie Bills and Scott Kelly are the current Innkeepers at the Montague. Julie serves as the Inn's Event Coordinator and Dining Room Manager; Scott serves as Head Chef for the Inn ("History of the Montague").
Now let's look at some inside history of the Montague Inn that I found when I had a personal interview with Julie Bills. According to Julie, Robert Montague III stopped by the Inn and provided some additional information about the family and the Inn. For example, the Secret Closet is where the family stored the silver they owned. There used to be another door inside that locked so that any thief had to work extra hard to get in. Also, the house was always quiet and well mannered. Mrs. Montague used to take in injured men from World War II and bandaged them. The Red Cross would only allow so many bandages per person, so she would sneak the injured into the house, close all the curtains and keep them until they were well enough to leave (Bills).
Mr. And Mrs. Montague shared the Montague Suite until the last part of his life, when he stayed in detoxification. He died of heart problems in 1951, in the bed at the detoxification unit. They had his funeral at the Inn in front of the bay window in the Riley Room. Chairs were set up and down the stairway and in all the rooms. After his death Mrs. Montague sold all of the fancy cars and bought a "cheaper one" that fit all of her basic needs. She passed away seven years later in the Suite. They had her funeral at the mansion also (Bills).
To illustrate this historic Inn we will now open the front doors to see the unique 18th Century appear before our eyes. The Montague Inn is historic because of its Georgian style, which is seen throughout the Mansion. This style is named after the three kings of England who bore the name George during the 18th Century. Five couples restored the Inn. They spent $500,000 for the renovation. The Acker's and Kinney's found furnishings at estate sales, auctions and antique dealers. "Most of what we found was built during the 1920's or early 1930's. Good reproductions were made in those days." Acker said (Thompson).
A white marble fireplace mantel located in one of mansion's thirteen bedrooms is Victorian. Acker explained that a member of the Robert Montague's family wanted it that way. The bedrooms feature floors of restored oak with Oriental rugs. The developers decided to cover the wood with carpet in the hallways. This would eliminate the noise factor so guests could have a pleasant night sleep. The extra money from the restoration went for safety items like a sprinkler system. The renovation would have been less expensive if the building was safe when the investors bought it. The renovation of the garage, located within 100 ft of the mansion, was converted into a guest house and contains five additional bedrooms, which provides a place to stay outside the Inn ( Thompson).
This mansion is a perfect spot for a romantic get-away weekend. The Montague Inn, for example, can be a place to share romance with a loved one. "It's one of the four romantic spots among best Inns in the country for fall getaways," states Glamour magazine. It brings romance through the luxuriously surroundings like the furnished rooms, jewel-like restaurant and the eight acres of lake, side lawn and gardens. The Country Inns- Bed & Breakfast listed the Inn as one of nation's twelve best (Spencer).
I had an enjoyable time on my tour at the Montague Inn. I leisurely looked around the many rooms. I was fascinated by the secret hidden closet behind the bookcase in the Library. I remember when I was walking on the second floor a silver old-fashioned laundry chute was
tucked away in the wall for ease of sending laundry to the laundry area in the basement. I was amazed by all the bathroom tile. The tile is called Pewabic Pottery, which was used during the Depression, and is still preserved at the Montague Inn. My favorite room would be the Montague Suite. This is an exquisite two-room suite with gas log fireplace. It also has three window seats, sun room with sofa bed, and a king bed which is near the Pewabic-tiled bathroom. The cedar-lined closet doors were very eye catching. I was also fascinated by how the rooms were named after the family's maids, cook, gardener and chauffeur. The Ecker Suite had a pearl-white Jacuzzi tub which was very tempting to my mind, body and soul. When you go into one of the guest rooms at the Inn, you can feel the past members that stayed in that room. It's like you are walking through a piece of history. I also found out that Don Johnson (who ran the boat races in Bay City) and Barbara Streisand stayed at the Montague Inn. The owners blame the noises they hear at the Inn on the ghosts of the past. They say maintenance is a never-ending job at the Inn (Bills).
Weddings are also popular at the mansion. A terraced garden, spacious grounds and beautiful tents add up to the perfect setting for your special day (Bills). I have this dream that maybe someday I will have my wedding there. I think it would be any girl's dream to walk down that enchanting long staircase on her wedding day in the foyer of the mansion. Just imagine, Mary Sage walked down that staircase on her special day.
"I wouldn't change anything at the Inn, the only thing I will add would be a Crochet Court in the courtyard," says owner Julie Bills. The staff at the Montague say they enjoy working at the Montague Inn because it is like coming home everyday. The people who stay at the Inn are what make it so homey (Bills).
The Montague Inn has so much history behind its name. As you walk into this Eastside business in Saginaw, you will capture the 1930's style of Georgian furnishings throughout the Inn. The Montague family history will be present as you stay in one of their seventeen guest rooms. This mansion is a place you can stay that will let you escape the Twentieth Century, and walk back into the 18"' Century, where the Georgian style captivates your mind. The fine dining service and the accommodations that will cater to all your special occasions are just a few things that the Montague Inn can offer. The Montague Inn deserves five gold stars instead of four. You couldn't ask for more!
Witten by Sara Reis