In 1836, a young David Carpenter left his family home in New York State with twenty-five dollars and lots of ambition. Settling in Toledo, Ohio, he began working as a clerk at a general store, soon becoming a stockholder in the business. In 1838 Carpenter moved to Blissfield and opened a dry goods store. Working with an architect, Carpenter soon began planning "the finest home between Toledo and Buffalo," a home that would sit adjacent to the Erie and Kalamazoo Railroad tracks that were laid through Blissfield in 1833.
Built in 1851, this Greek Revival house features a symmetrical façade of fluted columns topped with Doric order capitals and a triangular pediment. The original design did not include a second story on the wings or the west front porch; these features were added at a later date. The double sash windows with twelve panes are a traditional Georgian design of the 18th century. The windows in particular set the Hathaway House apart from later Victorian era houses in Blissfield that feature double sashes with single panes in the Queen Anne style.
The front entrance is off-set from the center of the façade, breaking the rule of classical symmetry, but allowing for a more practical use of the interior with space for the west parlor rather than having a large entrance hall. The interior features simple Georgian style moldings unifying a traditional American floor plan. The front entrance showcases a stairway with hand-turned cherry balusters and banister. Wide geometric wooden moldings frame each window and doorway throughout the house. The original plan had a network of eighteen rooms, including the card room, east and west parlors, dining room, library, three kitchens, and five bedrooms. Many of these rooms were quite small by modern standards; over the years walls have been removed to create larger rooms. The most recent addition to the Hathaway House (1995) is the back parlor (site of the original winter kitchen) and the new back porch with a handicap-accessible ramp.
Today the Hathaway House has three dining rooms and two parlors on the main floor, and three dining rooms on the second floor that can be opened to each other or separated. In the second floor west ballroom, one of the handhewn oak beams that supports the building is exposed for viewing.
Constructing a building of this type in a frontier community founded just twenty-five years earlier was truly a remarkable achievement and a measure of David Carpenter's success. He lived in the house for forty years with a succession of three wives: Thirza, Mae, and Hepsibeth. An oil painting by Hepsibeth hangs in the back parlor. A study of Thomas Cole's "Youth," from The Voyage of Life (1841-42), Hepsibeth probably made this copy while studying art in Cincinnati. David Carpenter died in 1891 and the house passed through the family to other owners. George and Bertine Larnley lived in this house with their daughter Mary Jane (Jeri) McColl from the early 1900s until 1948. Dr. Lamley used the east parlor as a waiting room for his patients: his examination room is now a service bar and restrooms. The patient's entrance porch and Dr. Lamley's sign still exist on the east side of the building. Dr. Lamley maintained a practice in Detroit in the winter where he and his family lived in a large apartment.
After Dr. Lamley's death, Bertine traded houses with George and Prudence Hathaway, also prominent Blissfield citizens. According to local lore, Prudence wanted a big house to entertain her golfing and riding friends from Toledo. When asked why, after moving in, she never entertained, she told her friends that she didn't think the old house could handle that many people! By all accounts George was quite a colorful character; his picture with the cigar in the front hallway seems to confirm that. Prudence's picture also hangs in the hallway, as well as a page from the 1948 Home Section of the Detroit News that featured an article on the house during the Hathaway era.
The Hathaway House, circa 1978.
After Prudence's death in 1959, the house sat vacant for two years before being converted into a restaurant. In 1963 Buck (Arthur, Sr.) and Allison Weeber purchased the Hathaway House. The Weebers operated the restaurant with their seven children, until their sons Art and Mike assumed the ownership in the early 70s. In 1982, the carriage house (which had been used as a gift shop) was converted into the Main Street Stable and Tavern.
The Hathaway House/Stable continued as a family business with Art and Mary, along with their son Matthew and daughter Aimee, who were involved in the day-to-day operation. On September 1, 2003, the business was sold, but reverted back to the Weebers on February 28, 2006. Although Art and Mary are still involved, the day-to-day management of the restaurants are in the capable hands of Ron Sulier (Mary's brother), daughter Aimee, and their cooler son Randy.
The Hathaway House has been designated a Michigan Historic Site and is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places. We take pride in preserving the historic character of the Hathaway House and enjoy sharing the home with others. The only original fixtures in the house are the chandeliers in the front hallway and the lobby; the furniture has been chosen over the years for the comfort and enjoyment of our guests. We hope you enjoy your visit with us–you are always welcome in our home.