“ Address: 3700 East Gull Lake Drive Hickory Corners, MI 49060 / Former estate to cereal magnate W.K. Kellogg and his wife Dr. Carrie Staines Kellogg, the Manor House was built on the highest point overlooking Gull Lake in 1925-1926. Restored to its original grandeur in 2000 „
W K Kellogg Manor House
3700 East Gull Lake Drive
Hickory Corners, MI 49060
On our road trip along the Great River Road popping back and forth over the Mississippi from Minnesota to Wisconsin and back again we came across a town called Kellogg and wondered whether that was named after the cereal magnate. When we got there we found not a lot there. We managed to find a small cafe and asked if the town had anything to do with Kelloggs' cereal and the young lady said 'no this is a nothing place and far too small for anything famous to have happened here.'
Having failed here we were pleased to see that in Michigan a couple of weeks later we could visit the former family home of the said W.K. Kellogg.
A BIT ABOUT MR KELLOGG AND HIS INVENTION
Will Kellogg was working in a Sanatorium and was constantly looking for ways to add variety to vegetarian diets. He accidently left a pot of boiled wheat to stand and when it was put through the usual rolling process he got each grain as a large flat flake. This food form became very popular with the patients in the sanatorium. It was then packaged and sold to others in the USA, by 1906 the Toasted Cornflake Company selling the famous Kellogg's Cornflakes was started then the Kellogg's products were taken to Australia in 1924 and then to the UK in 1938.
Mr Kellogg was never flashy with his money. He was a Seventh Day Adventist and gave a lot of his wealth away to charity, including setting up the Kellogg Foundation which he founded by giving $66 million of Kellogg Company stock. He was particularly generous to charities working with children and young people.
He was also determined that his children would not just sit back and live on inherited wealth. He kept a very tight rein on his money as he wanted his "sons (to) develop into conscientious and truthful men." They lived a fairly frugal life with no coffee or tea or alcohol, vegetarian meals and plenty of fresh air.l
The Manor House we visited in on a huge estate that includes an experimental farm and reforestation project, an agricultural school and a bird sanctuary. Over the years he donated millions to local causes including £3 million to Ann J. Kellogg School for handicapped children, a junior high school and a youth recreation centre and an auditorium.
We really struggled to find this house as it was well hidden and not very well signed. Eventually having driven up and down the same road a few times we took a slightly different turn and there it was.
The house looks very English mock Tudor style and is set in beautiful grounds. When we arrived there were no other cars in the car park but we had checked and it was supposed to be open. We wandered around and tried a couple of doors. One of the side doors was unlocked so we shouted to see if anyone was there and sure enough a lady came out and asked if we were wanting to have a self guided tour of the house.
PRICES AND TIMES
She explained that entry was free and the tour was self guided but donations are always welcome. She gave us a booklet which we could either leave behind when we left our pay a small amount to take with us. This explained each room and its contents and also gave a short history of the founder of the Kellogg company, some of which I have shared in the history previously.
A guided tour can be taken if you book in advance and this costs $5 for adults, $4 for seniors and students and children are free.
The house is open most week days but they suggest phoning to check or email. They welcome volunteers and anyone wanting to be a 'friend of the Manor House'.
As well as the Manor House which can be booked for wedding and conferences there is also a Bird Sanctuary , a Farm and Dairy Centre and hiking and walking trails all open to the public at different times and prices.
We entered the house through the kitchen which was still fitted out as it would have been when the family were living there, same sort of cooker and sink etc and a tiled floor. This area was used by the family cook and the rooms in this part of the house now have offices and are not really part of the tour.
This was a bright room with windows to the back and front and all the walls were tiled. The cabinets have been restored to the original style and some are original. There was a special cupboard with the ironing board next to the sink. A very clever invention was the broom cupboard which had a hole in the floor where you swept the rubbish into a bin suspended from the basement ceiling.
THE HALL AND STAIRWAY
We were taken into the hall or entry and this is where the significance of the number seven was pointed out to us and we were told to read about this and look out for the other places that seven coild be seen. The door in the entrance has seven panels and is one of seven original entrances to the house. The oak ceiling has seven rows of decoration. This area reflects the Tudor style of the house with dark oak ceilings and heavy carvings on the stairway. The stairway is pretty amazing and took two year to complete and was carved by hand in situ. In this area we loved looking at the old photos taken of the family in the house.
SEVEN IS A LUCKY NUMBER
As I have mentioned the number seven as being significant I better explain why, this was W.K. Kellogg's favourite number. There are seven letters in KELLOGG. W.K. Kellogg's father was the seventh child in the family and was born in 1807. W.K. Kellogg was also the seventh child and he was born on the seventh day of the week on the seventh day of the month, April7th 1860 in Battle Creek, MI. W.K. had seven grandsons. There were originally seven bedrooms in the house; one now has a lift in the middle of it to allow disabled access.
"If one seven is good, seven sevens ought to be better. Who can fail to make a success in anything with a combination of seven times seven in the family? " - W.K. Kellogg in 1931
We then walked on onto the library where a young lady on work experience was doing some clerical stuff. We just popped in quickly as we didn't want to intrude too much while she was working. This room held WK. Kellogg's book collection and from his favourites he would read aloud to his family in the evenings. The larger doors in this room each have seven diamonds as decoration and there are seven windows at one end of the room.
As we made our way upstairs we found that Mr and Mrs Kellogg had completely separate suits of rooms and both had lovely views of the lake. The two suites of rooms were separated by Mr Kellogg's office.
MRS KELLOGG'S SUITE OF ROOMS
Mr Kellogg met his wife as she was a doctor at the Sanatorium and they were married for thirty years. The bedroom was dated by still had a charm with an old wooden bed which had a handmade quilt on it. A lovely Turkish style carpet was on the floor which was tiled and at the entrance to the room were seven black tiles. Just off the bedroom was a sleeping porch which Mrs K used as an office.
The bathroom was very modern for the day with running hot water. There were a number of bathrooms in the house, two for guests to use and there were four guest bedrooms. The bathrooms were all tiled with original Rockwood tiles. These were painted over by the military when they used the house and two bath tubs were replaced by showers at this time.
MR KELLOGG'S SUITE
This was accessed through the bathroom and the office of Mr K. This office was used daily by Mr K. to run his company until his late 70s. His bedroom like his wife's had a lovely bay window with a view of the lake. His room was very similar to his wife's with a large patterned carpet on a tiled floor but it didn't have touches like hair brushes on a dressing table. Apparently he was a workaholic and 'cat napped 'for short times before getting back to work in the office.
The sleeping porch in this suite was used as an exercise room by Mr K. and his guests.
GRANDSON NORM'S ROOM
Norm spent a lot of time in this house in his holidays from college. The furniture was oriental lacquered and the furniture in the room now was a gift from a friend of the Manor House. The grandson's photo is on the wall by the bed so guests can see what he looked like.
The guest rooms all over look the garden rather than the lake and these rooms are not fully restored and are waiting for sponsors too help restore them.
NURSERY AND SLEEPING PORCH
This had an old crib, high chair and nursing chair and was the sleeping porch for the children. It was sad to read that Mr K. didn't see a lot of his own children as he went to work before they were up and came back after they were asleep. He did however manage to see more of his grandchildren but strangely would only kiss them goodbye in private as he was so shy.
This was a pretty big room with a billiard table, a game table and a radio. There were also a set of high backed chairs which could be arranged theatre style so the families could enjoy home movies.
I was very taken with the fireplace with Rockwood tiles with pictures of knights and a castle in the background. On the ceiling were seven oak beams and the alcove in this room is one of seven gables on the house.
We then came back downstairs to see the rooms we had missed.
THE LIVING ROOM
This was a large light room with a large bay window which had seven sections. The room had a view of the lake when the family lived in the house but now the trees are so big that you can't see the lake any more. The ceiling is plaster in a rose and thistle design which reflects the family's Scottish heritage and the lights also have a thistle design. There are some beautiful original Flemish tapestries on the wall that are well over 400years old.
This rather elegant room has been host to many famous people including President Hoover in the 1930s. The room is oak panelled and the light fittings once again had thistle decorating them. On the plaster ceiling there were seven designs at each end of the room.
I liked this room as it was set up for breakfast with original Kellogg cereal packets on the side and on the table. The was a lovely bay window with original leaded window panes and original decorated Rockwood floor tiles which I would have loved in my home.
THE STORY OF THE HOUSE'S HISTORY
The house was built by Mr Kellogg in 1925/6 and they lived there until 1942 when Mr K gave the house to the military to be used as a coast guard induction and training centre. After the war the house was used as a rehabilitation centre for wounded servicemen.
After the death of Mr K in 1951 the house was given to Michigan State College now University. The house was restored to its original as much as possible in 2000.
The estate includes a caretaker's cottage which can be hired as self catering accommodation for four people. The carriage house, cabins and dormitory suites are also available for hire as sleeping accommodation.
These were lovely, not formal but really natural and full of colour. The Pagoda Garden is beside the lake and has arbors and a sundial. This is used for weddings and can seat 150.
The smaller Reflection Pool garden seats 80 and is rather more English with a pretty fountain and this too overlooks Gull Lake.
We walked all around the garden and followed the path right down to the lake and boat ramp. It was a lovely walk down and a fairly exhilarating walk back up. The front garden was a little more formal and had a gravelled circular drive just in front of the house.
We really enjoyed the visit to this house. It told a fascinating story of this family. I really admire WK. Kellogg's philosophy and his extreme generosity; it is a shame that there are not nore wealthy people who follow his philosophy.
If you are in the Michigan area near Gull Lake then I really recommend a visit to this estate and the house in particular. It isn't easy to find but it was a lovely drive along the lakes and in the countryside and worth the effort we had to make to actually track the house down.
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