Sprinkler System Installation 2016
Roof Restoration Project 2016
The Henderson Castle is Kalamazoo’s and Southwest Michigan's most beloved iconic historic landmark.
Construction was completed in 1895 by first owner, Frank Henderson. Mr. Henderson was owner and president of the famous Henderson-Ames Company, makers of military regalia and society goods. Mr. Henderson was one of the area’s largest employers and would have been listed alongside some of the wealthiest men in Michigan in the late 1890s. He had a vision for the Castle and our community, developing the surrounding farmland into Kalamazoo’s first neighborhood designed with a natural site plan. A grand house-warming party was held upon completion of the home and the community was invited.
Though he finished his castle, he was not able to finish his vision as he passed away suddenly in 1899.
The Castle has changed hands several times over the last 120 years, but many owners found the upkeep unsustainable. Taking ownership 4 years ago, Mr. François Moyet has worked to change that.
The Castle is truly a magical place in people’s hearts and souls…
Just like Mr. Henderson, Mr. Moyet had a vision. This vision was to keep the Castle open to the public in order to inspire future generations.
How can we plan our future if we do not know about our past?
In the last 4 years, Mr. Moyet has had thousands of opportunities to inspire people from Kalamazoo, around Michigan, and from all around the world.
From Lauren, a 24 year old with severe MS who nearly got up and walked after a very inspiring tour of the first floor with Mr. Moyet, to another young lady – a 6 year old cancer survivor at the time – who’s eyes filled with wonder again looking at the Tinker Bell light fixture in the Victorian room…
Mr. Moyet – one step at a time – added rooms to welcome more overnight guests, opened a successful French restaurant, added a day spa, the winery, a vineyard, an underground cave, and became a popular wedding venue. He most recently added the 1403 Grand Avenue house across the street in order to respond to the growing demand.
Nearly complete, Mr. Moyet is working on bringing Kalamazoo its 1st French culinary program. Classes may start as early as fall 2016, offering an apprenticeship program in a live campus environment. Other curriculum classes will have a very strong emphasis on Naturopathy, nutrition, farm to table sustainability and equal opportunity.
All these visions work together towards the dream of sustaining the Castle for generations to come.
However we cannot take a chance to see the Castle endangered again by changing hands if or when Mr. Moyet will leave us… Only a foundation can protect the Henderson Castle’s interest and immortality… forever.
Furthermore the Castle, which has gained close to half a million dollars of improvements over the last 4 years, still faces new challenges every year. Example: the city of Kalamazoo is requesting we install a new sprinkler system to protect life and structure. It is also required code in modern commercial spaces. This is necessary in order to accomplish the very much needed improvement and guarantee the survival of the Castle. We have seen too many historical landmarks around the world burned to the ground in the last 50 years, often because no one wanted to invest the money or the time to improve them… Yes we can rebuild, but we can’t replace history…
Another example: next year we will tackle the installation of a new roof. The current roof is 120 years old and desperately needs to be replaced.
In 2017 we want to start construction of a new north tower. This tower will be home to a new elevator and fire exit stairways. This, most importantly, will allow Lauren and all of our friends with disabilities or limited mobility to reach every floor of the Castle. This project will certainly go over the million dollar mark as we must design a structure that does not detract from the historic grandeur of this one of a kind landmark.
For all these reasons the castle must be and remain a foundation.
As a foundation we will have the opportunity work with other local foundations to meet our goals. These expenses are above and beyond what the Castle can afford on its own, regardless of its recent strong sustainability. Last but not least, it must become an ongoing community project where everyone in our community will have a strong connection to the Castle and have a sense of ownership in this building that is their legacy.