Holly Kappes, senior design manager with Innvision Design out of Atlanta, Ga., says that locals in Marshfield, Wisc., recall fond memories of the historic Hotel Marshfield, located in the southern part of the small town. ““It was quite the community hotel in its time,” says Kappes, who led the recent 10-month renovation that turned the dilapidated property into a high-style boutique hotel.
The hotel was built in 1960 and operated as both an independent and franchised property before falling into foreclosure in 2012. Owner Rick Roehl, president of Roehl Transport in Marshfield, felt the area was underserved when it came to lodging and event space. When the hotel went on the selling block at a sheriff’s auction, he formed Marshfield Hospitality, bought the asset, and enlisted the help of management firm IDM Group to help turn the hotel into something everyone—residents, employees, and visitors—could be proud of.
“The property picked us,” says Steve Wykle, president of Marshfield Hospitality. “We have a business right up the road; there was a need for hotel and event space. The community is underserved as far as event space goes.”
The $9.8 million renovation took the property down to the studs and drastically reconfigured the floor plan. The only original elements of the building that remain are the exterior walls and roofline.
In considering guests’ modern-day expectations, Kappes and the design team created a concept that provides open spaces, similar to how rooms flow from one into another in contemporary residential design.
The hotel public areas were designed with versatility to accommodate peak times of the day and night with a variety of changing functions for dining, socializing, entertaining, and meeting. Upon entering the lobby, a central hearth and fireplace were added to give guests a cozy place to meet.
The use of rich colors and a diversity of textures, including leather seating, granite counters, wood table tops, metal trim, and tweed and chenille fabrics, provide richness while keeping the atmosphere casual, Kappes says.
“We used an eclectic feel with a mix of furnishing, accessories, and art styles so all age groups would feel comfortable,” she says.
The design team also referenced the history of the area in the hotel’s new look. The bold patterns of the carpet are reminiscent of railroad tracks—an homage to the city’s storied rail history. Art-style photography of local landmarks were added to public spaces and guestrooms. Even the name and décor of the restaurant, Libby McNeill’s, represents a long-gone local pickling factory. Kappes says that reclaimed wood from Wisconsin barns was also an important part of creating a local atmosphere. Repurposed barn wood was used in the dining area, at the face of the bar, and behind the front desk. Some of the furniture also was crafted from the recycled material.
The property’s courtyard, dubbed the Northwoods Backyard, was a highlight of the renovation, Kappes says. The plan for this space called for a natural flow of the indoors and outdoors. This was accomplished with natural landscaping, the addition of a fire pit, comfortable seating, two hot tubs, and a sauna. The area, designed for year-round use, can really warm up a frigid Wisconsin winter night.
Wykle explains that the reinvented Hotel Marshfield stands out from traditional franchises one would expect to find in a Midwestern town. The positive reaction from community members and hotel guests alike prove that properly positioned boutique hotels can work outside of major coastal cities.
“It’s a unique property in the area,” he says. “People are taken aback. It really stands out.”