Coleman’s Hotel: What’s the Story Behind This Building on US-127 North of St. Johns?
There’s an intersection just north of St. Johns: West French Road and US-127. Anyone who travels north in this area has passed by a hidden building, known as Coleman’s Hotel. Local rumors and legends say that notorious outlaw Jesse James stayed a few times at this hostelry, but there doesn’t seem to be any proof of that…yet…but it makes a good tale for the locals.
This unassuming intersection is known under two names: French’s Corners and Keystone.
The building was built sometime between 1855-1857 sitting in Greenbush Township, Clinton County, at the southeast corner of the 127-French intersection.
What’s its story? That’s a tough one, as much of Coleman’s Hotel history seems elusive. But here’s what we have so far…
According to the History of Shiawassee and Clinton Counties, there was a tavern at the intersection which was called Coleman’s Corners, and a post office began operations briefly in 1858. The post office was given the name ‘Keystone’, which doesn’t seem to show up on old maps or atlases. Looking at atlases, it appears that there were a few businesses at that intersection…but no concrete history on Coleman’s Hotel. I am curious about something, though: was the Coleman Tavern turned into Coleman’s Hotel?
Captain David French of Ohio served in the Civil War and ended up moving to the Michigan town of St. Johns in 1871. It was around Christmas time of 1879 when he traded his property for a 220-acre farm four miles north of town. The building on the property was called Coleman’s Hotel and was later re-named The Park House, meant as a summer resort.
Needless to say, the road that runs east and west on the building’s north side was named after Mr. French. The building now holds on to its history, and I understand there are museum-quality artifacts inside. Any information anyone can add is more than welcome.
So the next time you’re traveling in that direction, keep an eye out for the old Coleman’s Hotel. During summer it’s hard to see, as it’s hidden by trees and bushes…when the leaves are off, it’s very visible. Take a look at the photos below and see what I mean!
The Old Coleman's Hotel
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