FENNVILLE – While it’s a bar and grill these days, the historic Steven’s Hotel on Main Street has more than 100 years of history wrapped up between its walls. The building sits right next to the train tracks and was once an important stop in the iron horse days as people passed through the town on their way to other locations
To locals the Steven’s Hotel is known for bar burgers, pizza, and great local conversation, and one of the few bars in the state where you can actually by packaged liquor. The hotel was purchased in 1955 by Gary McCracken’s parents and he took it over with his wife about 15 years ago.
Upstairs you become transformed in to time with several rooms, some of which remain untouched from the old hotel days. Original beds, dressers, washing carafe, and old oak woodwork are clearly visible from the early 1900s. Most of the rooms have windows, which was a premium advantage back in 1910 since there was no air conditioning. In fact, we looked at the original hotel registry book (when it was briefly the Fennville Hotel) with names from Allegan, Chicago, and Cleveland travelers.
We also found more history deep in the basement as an old four-lane duck pin bowling alley had been constructed back in the 1930s. The pins were smaller, the balls were lighter and smaller, and nothing was mechanical, but it was nonetheless fun for its time. Current owner Gary McCracken still has some of the original score sheets before the game folded almost as quickly as it came in just after World War Two. It was replaced but what we now know as traditional ten pin bowling, all automated with pin setters and bigger balls. McCracken says “I was the most popular kid on the block in the 1950s as all his school friends would come over to play. It was cool to have a bowling alley down your basement.”
While patrons visiting the bar and grill at the Steven’s Hotel are generally not treated to what we found, there is still plenty of history hanging on the walls. Photos from the early 1900s, and old newspapers hanging on the wall from FOX 17’s parent company the Chicago Tribune Newspaper. The papers were from World War Two detailing the progress of the war with other articles about President Roosevelt and General Douglas MacArthur.
While they don’t have a website, you can click here to the Steven’s Hotel Facebook page.