History of The Heather House
Nestled along the banks of the St. Clair river, The Heather House is Marine City Michigan's only Bed & Breakfast. The home was completed in 1885 after two years of construction, a stunning example of the traditional Queen Anne Victorian style architecture dotted along the river banks and made popular at the turn of the century. It's owner, William Sauber, was chief engineer for the Mitchell fleet of Great Lakes steamers. Captain Sauber built the elaborate mansion to be his family home. He was born in Berlin, Germany in 1848, he had 10 children and died in 1916. Today, the home's master bedroom, The St. Clair room is available for reservation.
Captain Sauber traveled the lakes extensively in the wooden ships of that era bringing various goods to and from the Great Lakes. At the time of construction, Marine City and the St. Clair river bed housed shipyards for the construction and repair of fleets of steamers and ships. The link to the rest of the world through the St. Lawrence Seaway was essential to the progress and daily life of those in the Midwest. The waterway remains a very important shipping route to this day. An afternoon at The Heather House enjoys a glass of wine on the wraparound porch watching the freighters go by.
The Victorian House with the tower at 409 North Main St. was built by William Sauber between 1888 and 1890. It stands on land owned by Samual Ward and Gabrelle Richard in 1818 and owned and plated by Robert Holland in 1884.
William Sauber was a cheif engineer with the Mitchell Shipping Line, was general manager and secretary of the Marine City Suger Factory, Secretary of the Salt and Block Works, and was Mayor of Marine City.
He also had a ship named for him.
It is not suprising that wood for the house came from Canada by ship and unloaded across the street. A master carpenter (Charles Zimmerman) did a lot of the work.
The house originally had 12 room including a conservatory , a tower room and four fireplaces. It also had a Turkish bath in the basement which Mr. Sauber installed as well as a gas generating plant. About 1910 he converted the gas lighting fixtures to to electricity.
After half a century of ownership by one family, (1950) the property passed into other hands. Don Ashley purchased the property from Clair Miller Wills. He renovated the entire building and made the house into 4 apartments. The upstairs porches were enclosed at the time.
The building was purchased in 1962 by Cecile Keister and her daughter Dorthy.