William A. Jones Retreat

 7/15/2019 |   Views: 300 |   Reading Time: 3 Minutes, 9 Seconds
 
The historic Greek Revival structure was built in 1910 by William A. Jones, formerly of Chicago, as his residence. The Inn boasts many excellent examples of turn-of-the-century design. W.A. Jones was an ardent sportsman and student of firearms, accumulating nearly 1000 pieces. Assessed to be one of the top 3 collections in the world, it is now displayed in the LaPorte County Museum through his donation.The WA Jones Retreat suite which was originally used to house a historic firearms collection with Teddy Roosevelt’s trophy room as his inspiration.

 “Large, luxurious and beautifully decorated, the WA Jones Retreat Suite offers every amenity for your romantic getaway. This secluded suite is sophisticated, elegant and completely tranquil. Admire the original wainscoting, field stone fireplace converted to gas log, king brass bed, and a two-story cathedral ceiling which grace the bedroom. The spacious, sitting room with beautiful bay window, offers a sofa; which converts to a queen sofa bed, and two club chairs as well as a mini-kitchenette area with cabinetry, microwave, coffee pot, under-the-counter refrigerator, bar sink and sitting area with bar stools. Your ensuite bath encompasses a deep, two-person corner Jacuzzi tub and separate shower. Period reproduction fixtures, and mounted hair dryer add modern day amenities and creature comforts. Stay connected with TV, high-speed internet. This suite is the ultimate escape in luxury…” - More Info on the “Rooms” page.

The red-brick Greek revival home was built for Jones and his wife, Mary Clementine, his grade school sweetheart, in 1910. Both were around 61 years old at the time and looking to retire to a peaceful life in the Maple City. Jones had a foundry business in Chicago and their seven surviving children (two died in infancy) were grown.

They already had a cottage on Holton Road called Breezy Corner, but wanted an upgrade, something big enough to house W.A.’s extensive gun collection — it totalled more than 800 pieces by the time of his death.

In the “W.A. Jones Retreat,” the bedroom suite that now occupies what W.A. called his “gun museum,” the holes in the original wainscotting where guns were mounted to the wall are still visible. Closing your eyes, it’s not hard to imagine what the space once looked like, littered with W.A.’s big-game trophies: an elk-leg table and armadillo lamp in one corner, a Bengal tiger-skin rug rolled out on the floor, and rows of rare guns inching their way up the vaulted cathedral ceilings.

The collection also boasted other weapons, including swords and crossbows. A few dated all the way back to the Middle Ages. After his death in 1921, the gun collection was bequeathed to the La Porte County Historical Society Museum, despite requests from the Smithsonian Institute. The collection takes up about 1,500 square feet, the size of an average house, in the basement level of the museum.

W.A.’s patronage extended beyond his gun collection. He asked La Porte architect George W. Allen to build the W.A. Jones Estate on Johnson Road, originally called Hillside Home, and even had Angelo Bernacchi plant some of the original flower beds. For a man who went big game hunting with Teddy Roosevelt, counted  Chicago city planner Daniel Burnham among his friends, and even lived next door for a short time to Ernest Hemingway’s parents in Oak Park, Ill., the fact that he singled out La Porte shows his deep attachment to the area. W.A. had a great love for La Porte and over time built a great home here.


 
 
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