- The Heather House – a bed and breakfast in Michigan – is on the market for $749,900.
- Housed in a 138-year-old Victorian mansion, the B&B has seven bedrooms and seven bathrooms.
- Helen and Mark Lally, the owners, took over the business in 2014 but say it is time for them to retire.
A 138-year-old Victorian mansion in Marine City, Michigan has been home to a bed and breakfast for the past 30 years. Now it’s looking for its next trustees – it’s for sale at $749,900.
The three-story building was built in 1885, according to list.
It was originally built for William Sauber, an engineer and the former mayor of the city, per a website dedicated to the property.
In 1991, then owners Heather and Bill Bokram converted the place into a B&B and named it The heather house.
The current owners, Mark and Helen Lally, took over the business when the Bokrams retired in 2014. The Lallys were originally from Brighton, Michigan, which is about 50 miles west of Marine City, pr. Google maps.
“We were actually guests for 20 years at Heather House,” Mark Lally told Insider. “One day, about nine years ago, I was driving by and I saw a ‘For Sale’ sign in front of the place. And the next thing you know, we were owners.”
Although it was their first time running a B&B, the Lally family are fully involved in the day-to-day running of The Heather House.
“Helen was in the food business and had some hospitality experience when she was younger, but not with a B&B. But they wanted to learn everything, so they jumped right in,” Mike Kuligowski, listing agent from Signature Sotheby’s International Realtytold Insider.
The Lally family’s daily routine mainly consists of taking care of the guests and getting the house ready for the next day.
“I’m pretty much in the kitchen at seven in the morning, serving breakfast, getting people checked out and then turning the rooms,” Helen Lally told Insider.
In the summer, Mark also usually works on projects around the house and garden and helps guests check in, she added.
Peak season usually starts in May and runs through October, although Lallys is also busy around Christmas.
“We’re still quite busy in November and December with people coming as we do a lot of decorating for Christmas,” said Helen. “Generally we have 13 to 15 trees up around the house, all the porches are lit up and there are decorations everywhere.”
The 5,569-square-foot property comes with seven bedrooms: six guest suites and one owner’s suite, according to the listing.
Price per night varies between $155 and $205 depending on the type of room chosen, per The Heather House website.
“The business account pays the mortgage and utilities, so it feels like living for free,” added Helen.
Most of the furnishings and decor have remained the same since the 90s – the way the original B&B owners designed it.
Most of the furniture is antiques sourced from shops around the area, Kuligowski said.
“Marine City has a very large following for antiques, and there are some antique shops around,” Kuligowski said. “Heather actually collected bits and pieces over the years for the bed and breakfast and added to them as she ran it.”
Heather Bokram lives a few houses north of the B&B, he added. Even to this day, she still stops by the house to visit the Lallys. Her husband Bill passed away in 2017 obituary found online.
If the Lallys can get an offer that matches their asking price, they are open to including all furniture and furnishings in the sale.
“It’s negotiable,” Helen said. “If we got close to the asking price, we want it to be turnkey for the next people who buy it, just like it was for us.”
There is still potential to further develop and scale the B&B business by utilizing the unused attic space, Kuligowski said.
“It’s just over 1,500 square feet and could be turned into a couple of extra guest suites,” he said. The basement and another room above the garage – both of which are storage rooms – can also be converted into other rooms.
“There’s already space there, so quite easily you can put three more suites directly outside the gate if you want to expand the footprint,” he added.
People from all walks of life come to stay at Heather House, such as retirees and old house enthusiasts, Helen said.
The nearest major airport is the Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, which is about an hour’s drive from The Heather House, per Google maps.
“We get a lot of retirees, but also people who are rocket scientists or dairy farmers,” Helen said. “And that’s one of the things that makes this so fun and so interesting — just the big difference between the kinds of people that we meet every day.”
Some regulars at The Heather House also include people who have come from other states to visit family locally, Kuligowski said.
“They do a lot of repeat bookings – so people who have come before will come every year or every two years to visit the area and stay at the home,” he added. “My parents own a place just north of Heather House and I’ve had relatives there in the past,” he added.
As The Heather House is located right on the River St. Clair – an international shipping lane – cargo ship watching is also a popular activity among guests.
The St. Clair River flows from Lake Huron into Lake St. Clair, and serves as an international border between the United States and Canada.
“Probably every 20 minutes or so there will be international freighters coming by,” Kuligowski said. “So you can watch freighters all day and night, 12 months a year, right there, off the porches.”
Although The Heather House does not have its own dock, guests can also go boating in the river or enjoy water activities, Mark said.
The Lallys are letting the property go as they plan to retire and travel the country in an RV.
“We’re in our sixties, we thought we’d do it for ten years, and it’s been nine,” Helen said. “We’re just going to put some things we can’t live without in stock, get a turntable and hit the road for a few years.”
Although the property can be used as a residence, the Lally family hope that the future owners will want to continue to run The Heather House and keep their B&B heritage alive.
“An ideal buyer would be someone who enjoys people, enjoys learning about people and loves the house like we do,” Helen said.
Hopefully it will also be someone who has more ambition and energy to grow B&B into a bigger business, she said.
“We’ve taken it up a notch since the people who had it before. We’d love to see someone come in and take it up another notch or two,” she added.
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