One of the oldest and most well-known hotels in Northern Michigan is up for sale.
The Doherty Hotel has stood in the center of downtown Clare for 99 years, and for every single day of those years it was owned by a Doherty. That may not be the case for much longer.
“Good or bad, you’ve heard about the Doherty,” said current owner Dean Doherty. “In some way or the other.”
You can’t visit Clare without seeing the Doherty Hotel. You can’t properly tell the history of the region without the Doherty Hotel. Now you can buy that history - for $6.25 million.
“There’s a lot of interest, there’s some interest, but there’s nothing that has really at this point we’ve taken seriously,” said Dean.
He is the fourth generation of the family to own the hotel. He says he is not in a rush to sell but is ready when the right buyer comes along.
“To sell, it just takes time,” said Dean. “You got a find the right buyer that fits Clare and Clare fits them.”
The buyer would be taking over a hotel that turns 100 years old next year. Beginning as a sixty room hotel in the ‘20s, it has expanded to 157 rooms, with multiple pools and restaurants and a conference center.
All in the tiny town of Clare.
“It was probably the business corner of all of Michigan because there is only 127 and 10, there was no 75 at that time,” Said Dean. “So you had to go by our front door.”
Doherty’s great-grandfather AJ built the original Doherty for $60,000. The hotel was said to be fireproof. The Doherty grew an infamous reputation as a meeting place for mobsters and the Purple Gang, with the most infamous event coming in 1938 - a mob killing in the tap room.
“It’s all depending on if you’re talking to my dad or my brother, I don’t like talking about it. It’s a fascinating piece of history, but I’m just trying to get you a warm cup of coffee out to you or a hot meal,” said Dean.
Dean took over in 1987 and has since been the driver of the hotel’s growth, balancing between modern amenities and the historic charm.
“I’d love to have better insulation, better windows and better electrical systems,” said Dean. “But that’s part of the charm of an older hotel.”
He says he won’t limit what the next owner can do with the hotel, or even the name, but he just wants to make sure it’s somebody who knows what they are doing, whether that person shares his last name or not. The entire town depends on it.
“This has to stay viable. The city depends on it, as well as we depend on the city,” said Dean, “It would be a shame to let this thing go down.”