Inside Marinette Victorian B&B: edgy decor, martini lounge

lounge-signGone are my presumptions that bed-and-breakfast lodging in grand old buildings certainly must contain precarious parlor furniture, fussy frills, lots of lace or at least one polished silver tea set.

What you’ll find in Marinette is comfortable and retro décor inside two roomy, century-old houses. Longtime girlfriends and I were relieved that vacancies included the Gala Pink Room, spacious quarters with two queen beds, a nice fit for our foursome and budget.

We were tickled by the girly hues and adornments in this part of the 1910 Lauerman House, the cozy lounging areas elsewhere and quietness of the neighborhood. This would have been enough to help us unwind from a daylong drive around the northern half of Lake Michigan, but we took innkeeper Heidi Simon’s advice and walked to a sister property, the M&M Victorian Inn, for more surprises.

Besides lodging in an 1893 mansion, the M&M is home to the 1393 Lounge, whose specialties are tapas, house-infused vodkas and specialty martinis. Orders were delivered by a waiter whose tie and serving tray glowed in the black-light dimness.

Add zebra-print seating, hardwood floors, disco-era lighting, Art Deco decor and a video screen with vintage TV clips. Music was an unpredictable mix of jazzy showtunes, contemporary cuts and classics: Think Pink Martini, Rosemary Clooney, Freddie Mercury, Anita O’Day and Paul Simon.

Outdoors was a tented hookah bar, for patrons to inhale flavored tobacco that is filtered through water pipes.

“We’re the favorite bar of people who aren’t from here,” jokes Andy Sorensen, bar manager. International clientele for both B&Bs include customers of Marinette Marine Corp., which builds ferries, naval, Coast Guard and research vessels.

The M&M was built as a lumber baron’s wedding present to his daughter. Now the owner is Jean Moore, who lived here as a girl; she inherited the elegant Queen Anne building and commandeered its modern-day evolution. She also bought the Lauerman House, a sturdy and stately Colonial Revival structure, and for a while also operated a restaurant on the premises.

Both buildings were in need of practical attention, but Jean chose to not proceed in a predictable manner. Although many orginal architectural elements – pocket doors, Tiffany stained glass, a nook with built-in benches and keyhole window – remain intact, décor sometimes is a deliberate mismatch.

For more about Lauerman House, 1975 Riverside Ave., and M&M Victorian Inn, 1393 Main St.:, 715-732-7800 or 715-732-9531. Overnight rates begin at $100 ($120 for the Gala Pink Room).

Find details about the 1393 Lounge at; it is open Wednesday through Saturday evenings. Although the Lauerman House restaurant closed, group dining events are arranged.

Jean Moore also rents to travelers a rural villa in France. Chez Flottes is a revamped convent built in 1685 and on the Route de Vignobles (wine route). The four-bedroom getaway is near the tourist attraction Pont Valentré, a 14th century, arched stone bridge.

Chez Flottes also is made of stone. It is a mix of historic structure and modern amenities that include a swimming pool and outdoor spa that seats seven people. Vineyards are within easy view.

The weekly rental rate starts at $2,100. For details:, 715-732-7800 or 715-582-1052.

The Lauerman House was built in 1910 as a home for Joseph A. Lauerman, longtime co-owner of Lauerman Brothers Department Store in downtown Marinette. The store closed in 1987; now Simply Charming sells an unusual blend of antiques, collectibles (especially fine Asian imports), furnishings and clothing from this location.

Wisconsin Historical Society Press recently published the book “Something for Everyone: Memories of Lauerman Brothers Department Store” ($23) by Michael Leannah, who grew up in Marinette. He will talk about his work at Brown County Central Library, 515 Pine St., Green Bay, at 7 p.m. Oct. 3, and sign books at Book World, 1723 Main St., Marinette, Nov. 2 (time to be determined).

“Something for Everyone” describes the history, uniqueness and cultural significance of the family-owned department store, a business that is becoming increasingly rare. For example: The book names the 50-plus people on the store’s payroll at least 30 years.

Customers loved the hot Downeyflake doughnuts, 12 cents per dozen, and watched them being made. Lost forever, it seems, is the recipe for the popular frosted malted milk cones. In the store’s code of ethics: There is no substitute for honesty, a conclusion that seemed to be taken very seriously.

For more:, 888-999-1669.