The beautiful Sarah M. KIrby House, lovingly known as the Grand Old Dame, is a3-story home, originally built by a woman in a time when she wouldn’t have even been able to vote or take out a formal loan. Ms. Kirby was definitely a force for her time. The house has a touch of whimsy, but holds stoic, much like the pictures we have of Sarah. The fact that it’s still standing strong with the original architecture, windows, and woodwork in tact, is a testament to the challenge it must have been for Sarah to get this grand home built in 1890.
After several decades of serving as the Kirby family home, the house was given new life as the local community hospital. Sarah’s daughter, Lois Faith Kirby-Nevins, a nurse by trade, was instrumental in the conversion and stayed on after her mother relocated to California to be with family. From 1931-1957, babies were born, tonsils were taken out, and beds were filled with many Douglas and Saugatuck community members who still call the area home to this day!
After that, the home was used as a real estate office, antique store, and more. Then, in 1983, The Konitos turned it into a B&B, which was taken over by Ray Riker and Jim Gowran in 1998. They ran what was one of the most popular LGBT-friendly accommodations in town for many years, complete with a pool and sundeck.
In the fall of 2013, Jay Paul Deratany, a Chicago-based lawyer and screenwriter, used the home as base-camp for his movie titled “Saugatuck Cures.” After 3 weeks of filming in the home, he decided to breathe new life into the grand old home, yet keep its architectural integrity and original charm. Renovations on the home began in March 2014 and The Kirby reopened as a boutique hotel later that year with J. Paul’s Restaurant and Lounge following just behind.
Now, The Kirby House serves as an LGBT-owned and operated Hotel and Restaurant, open to the public from February through December. You’ll find vibrant artwork, tongue-in-cheek humor, and bold statements throughout. You’ll still find the original woodwork, windows, and more. Stop in today, for a drink, for a stay, for dinner, or all three!