Saving the Felt Estate
The Archival Site
( Important note )
This website contains a record of the early days of the Felt Mansion restoration effort.
It is unattended and does not reflect the current status of the project..
( click on above for pre-restoration exterior photo )
Take a Photo Tour
The late 1920s
( for directions to the estate, click here )
Click here to take a photo tour of kickoff ("wall braking") day
Volunteers are the heart and soul of this project!
To find out how you can help (with time -or- money), click here
"Nothing is accomplished unless somebody cares."
The Felt Estate History
(Special note: This was written before any restoration was begun)
For use of the mansion and rental inquiries, please contact Diane Ybarra.
Beautifully situated ten miles south of Holland (Michigan) and six miles north of Saugatuck, the Felt Estate was once the luxurious summer home and hobby of inventor and millionaire Dorr E. Felt. On land purchased in 1919, Felt began construction of "the big house" -- a gift for his wife Agnes -- in 1925. Unfortunately, Agnes died shortly after the mansion's completion in 1928. The family retained ownership until 1948 when Felt's daughters sold the estate to the St. Augustine Seminary. The seminary added a few buildings to the property in the 1960s. but declining enrollment in the 1970s forced it to sell the land and buildings. The State of Michigan began using the large seminary school as a minimum-security prison, and the Felt home as a State Police Post and office and storage space for the prison. Once the prison was phased out, the township bought the land and the buildings from the state with the stipulation that they would raze the prison (due to asbestos contamination) and keep the home and grounds for public use only.
The Felt Estate Today:
Due to a covenant clause stipulating that the estate remains for public use (to avoid over-development of the area and to protect the dune ecosystem), the township cannot sell or lease the mansion for private enterprise. The mansion today stands empty, a target for vandals and the elements. Presently in excellent condition in the interior, the mansion's decaying exterior will soon give way to more permanent interior damage. ...that is, unless we, as concerned citizens, historians, and preservationists, do something.
What Needs to be Done:
Updating the electrical systems, repairing the exterior brick and balustrades, removing some interior partition walls added by the seminary, creating handicap accessibility, and making cosmetic repairs could cost between $250,000 and $1,000,000. (That wide cost range is due to the fact that with older homes, one nevers knows what problems may or may not arise.)
The good news is that the intricate woodwork, carved fireplace, paneled library, magnificent staircase, and all original bathroom and kitchen tiles are in wonderful condition. All this home needs to return to its former splendor is YOU. Without people who care, the Felt Estate will crumble and eventually exist no more. What a loss for our community and our children.
The Save the Felt Estate Committee wants to prevent that from happening by taking active measures to seek funds and volunteers to make the Felt Estate Historic Home and Gardens a reality. You can help by - donating money - donating your time and talents (or your group's time and talents) to the renovation project - expressing interest and support to Laketown Township - calling today to make a reservation for your private tour and/or for use of the third floor ballroom for what will be a truly memorable occasion.
- - -
For more information,
Pat Hoezee Meyer
3132 24th Avenue
Hudsonville, MI 49426
please mail to:
The Save the Mansion Fund
Attn: Al Meshkin, Manager
A-4338 Beeline Drive
Holland, MI 49423
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