Posted by: Kath Usitalo | September 14, 2010

A Colorful Stay At The Ivory Mansion

Chinese influenced design welcomes you to the Ivory Mansion B&B in the UP

There’s a colorful history behind the Ivory Mansion Bed & Breakfast in L’Anse, overlooking Keweenaw Bay in the Upper Peninsula. And a colorful welcome behind the double doors between the impressive twin pillars of the white, two-story home.

Welcome to the Ivory Mansion

Innkeeper Lynn Ketola’s family has owned the property since 1836 when her Great-grandfather Pierre Crebassa journeyed to the area from Montreal and fell in love with a local Ojibwe woman named Nancy. The couple operated a fur trading post and eventually Pierre became the first postmaster at L’Anse.

It was Pierre who encouraged Father Frederic Baraga to establish a mission in the remote region, which the priest did in 1843. He would be revered as “The Snowshoe Priest,” and is memorialized at the Bishop Baraga Shrine overlooking the Bay.

Antique door leads to the original part of the Crebassa homestead, now a part of the Ivory Mansion B&B

Lynn’s Great Uncle Jean was the keeper at the nearby Sand Point Lighthouse, and it was her Grandfather Alex who built the home around which she constructed the Ivory Mansion. Lynn’s great uncle and other characters and incidents true to the area are featured in the novel, “Lady Unafraid,” written by Joeph Raleigh Nelson in 1965.

She left a copy of it in my room with an evening pot of tea and Swedish cookies, but it was late and I was only able to skip through the book, catching snatches of the history of the area.

While Lynn’s family’s roots include Ojibwe, French, Swedish and Finnish lines, her affection for Chinese design is all hers and apparent from the minute you step into the foyer, painted red and framed by an ornately carved gold and red screen that may have come from a restaurant.

“We like the Oriental,” says Lynn as she points out new and antique furnishings, accessories, an elaborate black lacquer and Mother of Pearl wall piece, and other treasures she and her husband Steve collected on travels throughout the U.S.

Each of the B&B’s 5 guest rooms is decorated in a different theme, and are showcases for Lynn’s decorating flair. “I like to collect (things) and I thought, why not share (by opening the B&B). It all kind of goes hand-in-hand,” says Lynn as she points out glass-doored hutches and sideboards loaded with antique dishes, tea sets, and serving utensils.

Mantel decor in the Paris Room

I stayed in the spacious and very red, black, gold, and white Paris Room. It’s filled with fun and frilly accents plus a cafe table and chairs, and has a private bath plus a balcony overlooking the sideyard and woods.

Lynn Ketola, Ivory Mansion owner and hostess

Despite Lynn’s laughing comment, “I’m not a morning person!” she set an elaborate breakfast table with a beautiful dish of fresh fruit, granola and yogurt parfait.

The slices of fresh nisu, a Finnish cardamom yeast bread, were perfect with the strong black coffee.

But wait, there was more!

My first ever breakfast pasty. I’d only had the traditional meat-potatoes-veggies version of the self-contained pie; the scrambled egg pasty was tasty and stick-to-the-ribs filling.

I would like to have chatted more with Lynn about her family and local history, and I wished I’d had time to sit on the balcony and read “Lady Unafraid.”

But I had to hit the road for more exploring in nearby Chassell.

If you’re heading to the UP on a fall color tour, stay at the Ivory Mansion B&B for a taste of local color with your leaf peeping.

NOTE: On a previous trip we stayed at Lynn’s Little Bear Cabin. Check out my earlier blog post and you can find a link to Little Bear at the Ivory Mansion website.

Tea, cookies, and a copy of "Lady Unafraid" delivered to my room by Lynn

Visitor Info Clicks: Baraga County

Upper Peninsula Travel

Travel Michigan: Pure Michigan

An elaborate breakfast gives Lynn a chance to use her extensive collection of china and serving pieces



  1. This spot looks great. Glad to learn about it. Next time I need a weekend retreat for myself I’ll definitely look into it.

    • A very unexpected, cool place!

  2. Very cool and in my own backyard! I know Lynn but had no idea of her decorating skills and interest in antiques….thanx for sharing this! And “Lady Unafraid” is a really good book!

    • I didn’t mention in the post about Lynn having owned a floral shop that also carried interesting decorative items for sale. She does have talent.

      Our library doesn’t have Lady Unafraid, so I guess I’ll have to visit the Ivory Mansion again to read it.

  3. Lady Unafraid is a really good book you should defiantly read it if you get the chance. I too am a decendent of Pierre Crebassa!

    • After delving into it during my brief stay I do want to read the book. Have you contacted Lynn? Come on up to the U.P. for a visit!

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