Colonial Inn was founded in 1894 by Colonel Eaton of the Michigan Wolverines Cavalry Division shortly after the Civil American War. Rumor has it that his fortune had its origins in the capture of the Confederacy’s President, Jefferson Davis. After his death in 1904, his widow continued the operation of the hotel despite living during a time when women could not yet even vote. After her death in the 1920s, Papa Tam, a German WW1 Colonel became the proprietor. In 1955, Colonial Inn was purchased by Ford Motor Company’s Vice President, John R. Davis, and Harbor Springs Luminary, Fred Renker. They constructed two additional buildings which stand today as the East and West Plazas. The partners transformed Colonial Inn into a world-class operation by remodeling the hotel and creating an ambiance of old-world charm. Renker managed the hotel until 1968 when it was bought by Ray Brown, a southern transplant from the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina.
Ray owned and operated the hotel from 1968-1986. His proprietorship occurred during a time of transition, as the old guests who would typically stay for the entire summer, gave way to a more transitory clientele. With great struggle, as told in the memoir Hotelman, Ray's son, Tim, bought the hotel and began modernizing the property. Over the years, he fought against the trend of old hotels becoming immovable relics. Embracing years of history, Tim believed every owner was part of a sacred and continual process, each building off the progress of their predecessors. It is due to this belief that many of our unique amenities exist today.
Tragically, Tim died in his beloved Beechcraft Barron with his wife and young son in the Great Plains of Montana on September 17, 2016. He is survived by his eldest son and namesake who now owns and operates the resort.
We are nestled in the “Wequetonsing” summer area among white clapboard turn-of-the-century edifices – whimsically called cottages. Town and Country, June 1958 referred to our area as “top drawer” and Town and Country 1985 featured “Weque” as an exclusive summer area where the Colonial Inn offers the only accommodations.
Welcome to The Colonial Inn