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I need to go to this place and eat as I have been by it hundreds of times. It is pretty much in my back yard. I always knew it was a historical, sometime haunted place but I had no idea it went back to the 1800's. Just goes to show you sometimes take for granted attractions in your own area.
From the website:
Well preserved in spite of its years; the Fenton Hotel Tavern & Grille still stands, solid and hospitable, greeting hungry patrons as it did when it was first built while the railroads came to Fenton in 1856. It was listed as the "The Vermont House” in the states earliest Gazetteer, Seed & Flint were the builders and owners. Mr. Seed himself became the first landlord.
In 1868, Abner Roberts was the proprietor of the hotel, which was named the Fenton House at that time. After many changes in ownership, D.W. DeNio purchased it in 1882 and renamed it the DeNio House. DeNio thoroughly overhauled, papered and furnished it in style. A grand opening party was given under the management of the Carpediem Club, a social group composed of the town’s leading Citizens; nearly 200 guests danced the mazy waltz on a canvassed floor in time to the excellent music furnished by an orchestra from Owosso. The dinner prepared by Mrs. DeNio was tastefully arranged and the table was loaded with everything an epicure could desire. The grand opening was a grand success and gave evidence that the DeNio House was the best kept house between Detroit and Grand Rapids.
When the telephone came to Fenton in 1883, the DeNio House was one of the first subscribers. In 1886 DeNio further improved the first floor which contained the billiard room, bar and sample room. The hotel had barn accommodations for100 horses and a hall 30 by 80 feet in size for public parties.
In 1898, the proprietor was Mr. Hurd, who renamed the hotel the Fenton House. Hurd also put in improvements, building a new brick Kitchen 20 by 30 feet, installing a steam heating plant and fixing up rooms for the employees on the second floor.
At that time the Fenton House had porches at the second and third stories running the entire length of the hotel, but those porches came down on February 17, 1904. That was the day John Moyer’s team of horses ran away. According to an eye witness account, the team was frightened into a run on Main Street (Grange Hall Road) near the depot, and they swung over to the sidewalk in front of the hotel with one horse going each side of the posts supporting the porches. The horses knocked down the posts. The falling timbers broke out several windows at the hotel, but did little damage otherwise.
About 1916, T.J. Dumanois who owned the Linden Hotel, Came into possession of the Fenton Hotel. Prohibition cut the hotel business down, but it was the Great Depression that forced the hotel to temporarily close. After the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, the hotel reopened under the management of Arthur (T.J.’son) and his wife Margaret Dumanois. The Fenton Hotel is said to have received the first liquor license in Genesee County after prohibition.
At that time, U.S. 23 ran through the center of town and the hotel regained its reputation as a fine eating place for travelers passing through. On weekends and especially on Saturday football days, the crowd was immense with lines of people waiting to get in.
Through the years the hotel was used less and less as a hotel and more as a dining restaurant and banquet place. When Ray and Ann O’Reilly purchased the place in 1946, it was called "Hotel Fenton” and maintained its reputation for Roadhouse diners.
"Hotel Fenton” was owned by the O’Reilly’s until the early 1970’s. The next 25 years brought many different owners to the hotel until Nick and Peggy Sorise purchased it in 1997. Then named "The Fenton Hotel”, the Sorise’s continued to operate it as a white table clothed fine dining restaurant.
In 2006 The Fenton Hotel became 150 years old; to celebrate, the Sorise’s undertook a renovation that included a name change to the current "Fenton Hotel tavern & grille”.