When you enter Knob Hill Bed & Breakfast on South Drive in Flint, you’ll know it’s your time to relax. That’s right – there is a successful B&B in Flint, and this place is drawing tourists from near and far who come to spend a relaxing weekend in Vehicle City. You’ll find this graceful mansion hidden in the quiet Knob Hill Subdivision off Miller Road near the I-69 Hammerberg Road Exit.
When innkeepers Allan Griggs and Diana Phillips first walked through the stately 1926 colonial home four years ago, they fell in love with it, seeing a diamond in the rough beyond the worn carpet, old roof, problematic plumbing and wiring, and piles of stuff stacked up outdoors. Now married 11 years, Diana and Allan decided to purchase the home in late 2011 after it had been vacant for six years.
“We bought it not knowing what we were going to do with it,” says Allan, a retired engineer who previously ran a mercantile store in rural Oklahoma and fully enjoys the hospitality business, as well as tending the roses and keeping the landscaping on the premises immaculate. He is also active in city government and a Blue Badge volunteer. Diana, who teaches physical chemistry at Kettering University and is a board member of the Mott Park Recreation Association, handles guest reservations, housekeeping and cooking delicious breakfasts.
The couple rented the house to college students for two years before deciding to turn it into a bed & breakfast and starting a massive renovation project. Before long, the Knob Hill mansion was transformed into a beautiful B&B complete with six elegant rooms, a sun porch, library, patio, living room and dining room.
Each softly-lit bedroom has a TV, wi-fi, a desk, private bath, air conditioning and a fireplace. The décor themes are centered on different literary works like Peter Pan, The Secret Garden, Don Quixote, Alice in Wonderland, Arabian Knights, Romeo and Juliet, The Canterbury Tales and Western lore. Room rates are reasonable and the home also offers a cozy upstairs family suite. Original bathroom floor tile made by the Flint Faience & Tile Company adds sentimental local charm to the décor (see sidebar).
“Everyone feels so comfortable and at home here and we’re really proud of that,” says Diana. “We have two rules: Make yourself at home and sign the guest book.”
Knob Hill guests range from those seeking a romantic getaway or anniversary celebration to local business professionals, politicians and members of charities and community clubs. When guests are in the home, an innkeeper stays on the premises and is always available if any concerns arise.
The business is a proud member of the Lake to Lake Bed & Breakfast Association, passing regular inspections by professional reviewers who rate the business on more than 100 checkpoints of quality, cleanliness, safety, comfort and professionalism. This designation assures guests that they will have a pleasant experience. The innkeepers happily offer complimentary transportation to and from the airport, train station and nearby hospitals, in addition to breakfast and complimentary snacks and beverages.
Diana prepares a full, hot gourmet meal tailored to her guests’ tastes and sensitive to any allergies. “Being the chemist that I am, I make up some recipes,” Diana smiles. “A favorite invention is my maple pecan French toast bake.” Also popular are the comforting bread bowl soups and chowders and a delicious raspberry and lemon strata.
The couple hopes their business continues to draw tourists and local visitors while adding a little classic elegance to the city of Flint.
“Here, it’s like going on vacation without having to leave home,” Diana says. “We have all kinds of people stay, and we get wonderful comments from our guests.” Cheers to Knob Hill B&B!
Photography by Mike Naddeo