Onsted, MI

The Greenleaf Mansion in Onsted, Michigan is One of Irish Hills' Hidden Gems

Tracy Stengel

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The stately Greenleaf MansionPhoto via the Greenleaf Mansion Facebook page.

The Greenleaf Mansion, a bed and breakfast in Onsted, Michigan, is a special place that has a magical quality about it. Upon arrival, I was greeted by a Grecian statue of a woman. She stood surrounded by lush greenery and flowers. Sunlight kissed the side of her face. Already, I was enchanted.

The mansion, built in 1873 by Mr. Charles Greenleaf, sits on three acres of well-tended grounds. The innkeeper and chef, Diane Newell and her husband, Steve, are both Master Gardeners through Michigan State University. A winding path, with over 2600 hosta plants in its wake, led me past a beautiful gazebo, through a rose garden with a sitting area, and by a fire pit, fountains, and more statues. Birds chirped and butterflies flitted around me. It was so lovely and peaceful, I felt as though I was part of a fairy tale.

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The welcoming statue of Greenleaf Mansion.Photo courtesy of the author.

Steve and Diane’s organic garden overflows with raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, tomatoes, and peppers. There are also cherry, apple, and peach trees, as well as, an arbor draped with concord grapes. Diane includes these fresh fruits and vegetables into meals for her guests.

The back deck, surrounded by flower boxes filled with bright red geraniums and creeping Jenny, has a table and chairs for guests who prefer to dine al fresco. There is also comfortable seating for those wanting to curl up with a good book or just wanting to relax and enjoy the scenery.

I gasped upon entering the Greenleaf Mansion. It was like being transported back in time. The ash wood floors with dowel pegs, Tiffany light fixtures, and antique furniture all reflected life back in the 1870s. 

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The Governor's Room -- my favorite guestroom!Photo courtesy of the author.

Steve explained to me why the floor-length drapes were 6 to 8 inches longer than necessary. “Back then, it was a sign of wealth. It showed the owner wasn’t afraid to overspend on fabric,” Steve said. “All 21 rooms have been restored to their original charm. It took us ten years.”

In 2004, when the Newell’s bought the Greenleaf Mansion, it was ready to be condemned. There was a hole in the roof of the cupola, allowing water and snow in the house for over 15 years!

Much of the work was done by Steve, besides for the new electrical and plumbing. Of the two, Diane is the interior decorator, but Steve put in some creative touches. For instance, he used an old pump organ to fashion the back of the bar. It is a unique and stunning piece! For Steve and Diane, the hard work they did to restore the home was a labor of love.

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The bar and bar back made of an old pump organ.Photo courtesy of the author.

There are five guest rooms, each one with its own character. They all come with luxurious white robes, a Starbuck’s coffee station, water, drinks, and snacks, including chocolates. Steve and Diane’s attention to detail is evident in the lotions and soaps they provide.

If you think the Newell’s go out of their way to pamper their guests, wait until you have one of Diane’s breakfasts! Diane is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu and studied culinary arts in France and Italy. She taught culinary arts in four universities in China. Her elegant meals are both beautiful and delicious — they are truly a delight for the senses! Some of her recent dishes include a fresh fruit parfait, buttery blueberry mini waffles with pure maple syrup, homemade Cottage Dill Bread paired with hard salmi, provolone cheese and garlic aioli, Limoncello breakfast cakes, Egg Benedict, and a Spinach, Ham, and Dill Curd Quiche with a side of roasted red skin potatoes.

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Diane's French Toast Cups filled with fresh fruit and pure maple syrup.Photo via the Greenleaf Mansion Facebook page.

Not only is the Greenleaf Mansion a wonderful bed and breakfast, it is also an ideal venue for small weddings of 20 people or less. “We open up the gazebo and hang lace and flowers around the ‘alter,’” Diane said. “Steve is a wedding officiant, so he performs the ceremony in a suit, ascot, and top hat. There is a violinist from Adrian we recommend to provide the music. Weddings here are intimate and romantic!”

Steve and Diane are kind, warm, and gracious hosts. Treating yourself to a stay at the Greenleaf Mansion is a wonderful way to practice self-care. You can let go of your worries and embrace the zen-like atmosphere outdoors and the warm, welcoming atmosphere inside. It is a place owned by people who believe in living every day to the fullest!

If you’ve been lucky enough to stay at the Greenleaf Mansion in Onsted, Michigan, tell me about your experience in the comments!

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Tracy explores the world with a positive eye, an open heart, and a sprinkling of humor. Without laughter, she would be lost.

Onsted, MI
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