• Ann Duchene

It's A Long Story

I'm no different than anyone else who has lived around here for a long time. Our stories are filled with laughter and tears and weddings and funerals, rooted in this place we call home. I know I'm not alone when I say that I have always felt Grand Ledge is just what a small town should be.

A few of you already know that I bought a little old church in downtown Grand Ledge with plans to turn it into a hotel. Part of my inspiration is that I love our town, and I want to share its specialness with people who come to visit - as well as to help create more happy memories for other folks who call the Grand Ledge area home.

205 W. Scott Street

As a little girl, I remember standing along flag-lined Bridge Street one humid June afternoon, wearing a plaid cotton dress, and feeling a sense of pride while twirling dancers and a stiff brass band marched by. This was my town.

I remember family and friends crowding around as my new husband and I dashed from the Opera House, rolled back the top of our borrowed convertible, and watched as white balloons filled the night sky. It felt like the whole world was celebrating with us.

I remember beginning married life in an apartment along Grand River in the old chair factory. We celebrated the first perfect snowfall of winter by taking a long walk along Jefferson at midnight, hand in hand, gazing up at the fluffy, perfect flakes drifting lazily down into our faces.

I remember strapping our tiny new daughter into a baby carrier, and working at a colossal yard sale in the Scout Building to help cover medical expenses for my brother. Donations literally poured in, and it seemed like the whole town wanted to help out.

I remember teachers laboring tirelessly to figure out what made my kids tick, and doing everything they could to feed the fire of discovery. Some of them going above and beyond what any teacher could be expected to do.

I could go on, but you get the point. So how do all these memories feed into my wanting to open a hotel?

As an interior designer, I've been trained to use indoor spaces to communicate a story and to help people build more good stories into their lives. For years I wondered, "Why can't I stay in my own great town when I want a local get away?" And when family and friends come into town for a wedding, and love the Grand Ledge vibe I've often thought, "It's a shame they have to go to Lansing if they want to stay in a hotel." And then the pieces fell together in my head.

We could create something special for anyone who finds themselves tired of unremarkable stays at a stereotypical hotel. We could renovate one of these old beautiful buildings into place that celebrates who we in Grand Ledge are, where we've been, and where we're going. I could join the host of other citizens already working together to create meaningful experiences that offer more "togetherness" as a community.

So I spent a year or more looking at various locations, talking to people at the city hall, seeking advice from experts, and ended up with a real building and an doable plan. I have to say that support for this concept is even more enthusiastic than I'd imagined it would be.

Now that we're getting closer to starting renovations, I invite you to come along for the ride because this is not just my story. It's all of ours somehow mashed up together along with the stories of those who came before us.

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