Our organization aims to preserve history through preservation of the Estate; protect the environment with the responsible use of the natural environments; and educate through tours, classes, field trips, and seminars. The Felt Estate and Shore Acres is an integral part of the West Michigan landscape – aesthetically and economically, by providing an education and beautiful location for residents and visitors.
The Felt Mansion features unique fixtures comprising intricate mahogany woodwork, original hardwood floors, and art-deco style colorful tile. Venture through the Mansion’s sprawling three floors including an impressive foyer, a formal dining room, a library housing original books, a parlor featuring a mahogany fireplace mantel, and a variety of family bedrooms and bathrooms. Take a step back in time and explore the history that is still be unveiled to this day through ongoing restoration and updates.
Dorr Felt was a self-made millionaire, made famous by his invention of the Comptometer, which performed basic math functions that allowed businesses to improve their bookkeeping skills and speed. Born in Wisconsin on March 18, 1862, Dorr Eugene Felt left his home at age 14 to work in a machine shop where he honed his mechanical skills. In 1882, with only 50 cents in his pocket, he moved to Chicago to secure employment gain experience in machine design. A few short years later, Felt invented the Comptometer, his famous office-processing machine. The Comptometer was an instant success and lead Felt to design more inventions throughout his life.
Originally built in 1925 and completed in 1928, the Felt Mansion began with a love story. Dorr Felt was drawn to the pristine beauty of West Michigan’s coastline and decided to build a house on several hundred acres of land for his wife, Agnes. Sadly, in August 1928, only 6 weeks after the family moved into the home, Agnes passed away and Dorr joined her a year and a half later. The Felt family kept the home until 1949, but after WWII, the descendants decided to sell the Shore Acres Farm.
Following the departure of the Felt family in 1949, The Saint Augustine Seminary, a Catholic prep school for young men, purchased the mansion and grounds. The carriage house was used for classrooms, while the mansion was used for housing. After several years of growth, the Seminary built a school on the ridge, west of the mansion, and a group of nuns lived in the mansion. In the late 1970s, the State of Michigan purchased the property to use as a prison. A portion of the mansion was used during these years as offices for the State Police. The State owned the grounds until the early 1990s when Laketown Township purchased the land for one dollar, with the stipulation that the mansion is used for the public, not sold or used for private enterprise.
Photos and descriptions only go so far, plan a visit and experience the history of the Felt Estate for yourself! We offer a variety of tour options to fit your needs.