Aging, Empty Beauties: The Garfield Inn

Port Austin, Michigan
08.19.2011 | by: Meghan

I rode my bicycle by this stately mansion last weekend, during a quick trip to Port Austin to stay with friends, and I nearly flipped over the handlebars. It’s for sale. To say I have an affinity for old b&bs, abandoned resorts and hotels of the withering glamour variety is a bit of an understatement. I spend a ridiculous amount of time trying to figure out how to buy these sad, aging beauties and restore to original–or slightly updated-original–splendor. I make my husband drive hours and hours out of our way to look at hulking old mansions and desolate resorts that look haunted.

Built in the 1850s, updated in the gorgeous Second Empire style, this grand manse is on the historic register–obviously, given it’s history, starring James Garfield as a frequent guest of the original owners, Charles and Maria Learned. And to make it juicier, it’s rumored that Garfield fell in love with his friend’s wife, and though there’s no proof, many say he requested to be transported to the house after being wounded by an assassin’s bullet. I was gushing about it to our friends, who, turns out, got married there. They had a huge tent on the sprawling grassy grounds, danced until dawn and then slept in that room at the tippy-top of the central, square tower.


16 Comments on “Aging, Empty Beauties: The Garfield Inn”

  1. It is a beauty, have had lunch there. Just another victim of the Michigan economy I suppose, so sad.


  2. Sad, yes. But the strange thing: everyone there (and all over thumb and northern michigan) says the local travel industry is thriving. I think the traditional b&b culture is waning though.


  3. We stayed there in October 2009. It was very neat in every regard. Food was great, very nice room, just a great experience. They had a for sale sign from a realtor in the yard even then. But they had a fall beerfest and some Halloween events scheduled, per the main sign in the yard. I believe it managed to hang on for almost another year, but it has been closed now since the fall of 2010. I hope someone will buy it and reopen it. I believe anyone interested can get a price and contact off its web page,


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  5. I live in the thumb and Port Austin its self is becoming a ghost town when the farmers market is not open


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