Tours of the historic Alma Palace for Toys for Tots – The Morning Sun
Saravilla Bed & Breakfast, located at 633 N. State St., will host the property. in Alma, an event to benefit the Gratiot County Marine Corp Toys for Tots campaign from 5-8 p.m., Friday, November 19. For donating a toy, attendees will receive a tour of the historic home’s basement. (courtesy photos)
Those who have wondered what the interior of a historic palace dating back to the 19th century looks like will have the opportunity to find out.
Saravilla Bed & Breakfast, located at 633 N. State St., in Alma, is hosting its annual event to benefit the Gratiot County Marine Corps Toy Drive for Kids from 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday.
Owners Rochelle and Kelly O’Shay held the fundraiser for the first time in 2019, just a few months after purchasing the three-story, 11,000-square-foot Dutch Colonial mansion built by Alma founder Amy Wright in 1894 as a wedding gift for his daughter.
“After we first bought it, we had a lot of people stop by who just wanted to look around,” Rochelle O’Shay said. “But trying to run a business was difficult for them to understand.
“We were looking to do something that would benefit a local organization and the community but we didn’t want to charge for it. The first thing we thought of was ‘Toys for Kids.’
The O’Shays contacted Gratiot County Toys for Tots coordinator John Hall, who immediately gave his blessing.
Attendees are asked to bring a new, unwrapped toy in exchange for a tour of the basement of the building, which includes a ballroom, lounge, billiards room, library and dining room.
“They will get the history of each room and the house itself,” Oshay said. “We’re already decorated for Christmas.”
She added that an average of 300 to 350 people attend each year.
Saravilla is listed on the Michigan Historical Register
According to its website, the mansion has been used as a bed and breakfast for more than 30 years. Before that, it was used as a retirement home for the Gleaners Insurance Society and the Free Masons of Michigan and a 50-bed hotel.
The O’Shays now host small weddings, bridal showers, baby showers, family reunions, birthday parties, business meetings, among other events and sleepovers.
For more information about the Toys to Tots fundraiser, reserve a room or schedule an event call 989-463-4708 or visit the Saravilla website or Facebook page.