Battle Creek

Artistry at Marshall barbershop not limited to haircuts

Noah Saber designed his barbershop in Marshall to be a cut above the rest. 
Known as CAMP, the 2,200 square-foot front area of the shop offers the types of services one would expect to find while the back of the business was transformed into the Huntsman’s Hound, a 700 square-foot lounge area that features more personalized services and amenities and a higher-end product line.
“It offers a teaspoon more of exclusivity,” Saber says of the Huntsman’s Hound. “The amenities offered area little wider ranging. The front is still my baby, but what we’re offering in the back is geared towards the customer looking for a little higher-end product.”
Huntsman clientele can expect to be shaved with razors containing Japanese Feather Blades and have the option of choosing from three separate scents that are used for the pre-shave and actual shave. Saber says the shaving creams are of a higher-end quality and more traditional.
“The level’s been raised a tiny bit in the back. It’s in its own room. There’s a noticeable difference in privacy. We don’t offer children’s pricing in the back so if you’re coming in to relax and unwind, you don’t have to necessarily wonder if you’re going to be dealing with a 4-year-old back there crying,” he says. “I’ve taken a ‘the devil’s in the details’ approach.”
Noah Saber talks about the Huntsman's Hound Lounge and Camp barber shop in downtown Marshall.Those details include three murals created by Michael Shawn Peck, a nationally-renowned decorative interior artist. One of the murals, which is 30 feet long and 17 feet tall, is on a wall in the front of CAMP, while the other two - a 5 X 9 stretch canvas mural and a 12 X 7 mural - are in the Huntsman’s Hound.
The mural customers see in the front area is designed to create a feeling of being in Northern Michigan and contains a lot of pine trees and one deer. That same deer is prominently featured in the stretch canvas mural that Peck says was inspired by a famous painting called “Monarch of the Glen” completed in 1851 by British artist, Sir Edwin Landseer.
“(Landseer) did a lot of animal paintings in the day. He has this classic picture of this Scottish Red Deer Stag which has been reproduced on the things like shortbread cookie containers,” Peck says. “I used that as the inspiration and reimaged a background in more of an American Western setting.”
The inspiration for the mural depicting northern Michigan came from Saber who moved from Marshall to the Upper Peninsula where he owned all of the Culligan Water franchises, purchasing his first shop when he was just 26 years old.
Saber says he let Peck decide what he was going to paint on the canvas.
Painting by Mike Peck on the wall of the Camp barber shop in downtown Marshall.“It would have been easy for me to say a stag or a bull. I wanted Mike to paint what he knows about me. I could have easily suggested something really overly masculine,” Saber says. “Mike and I went back and forth and he chose this really wonderful image of an elk overlooking a valley on this cliff base in Montana. He painted the perfect picture. I sit there sometimes with a friend of mine in our leather chairs with this picture in between us and say how unreal this painting is.”
However, Peck’s artistry and vision extended beyond the paintings. His influence is found in the furniture in the Huntsman’s Hound as well as the wainscoting that frames the stretch canvas painting.
Marshall native Michael Shawn Peck is a nationally-renowned decorative interior artist.“Nothing got a ‘yes’ until Mike said it was O.K. I want this to be a box for him. I want everybody to know this is his beauty. He’s so brilliant. I want to celebrate him by embracing all his talent. There’s nothing else like this in the state of Michigan,” Saber says of Peck’s paintings in his shop.
For Peck, the paintings are a labor of love for the son of dear friends. He got to know Noah through a friendship he struck up with Joan Saber, Noah’s mom, when they were involved with the Marshall Civic Players. That friendship extended to a professional relationship which found them working together on commissioned projects Peck had at the Breaker’s Palm Beach resort and the Plaza Hotel in New York City. Peck also painted murals at homes the Sabers owned in Marshall and Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Noah Saber works on Richard Morrissette's hair in the Huntsman's Hound Lounge in downtown Marshall.The Breaker’s project called for Peck to paint a cloudscape on a ceiling complemented with scenes of Venice, Italy.
Closer to home, his artistry may be found in the Honolulu House in Marshall that he helped to restore in 1985; Architecture + Design in downtown Battle Creek; and in the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island which houses a mural he did in the hotel’s Lilac Room and a map of the island that is displayed behind the concierge desk.
His work at the Honolulu House would eventually lead to work with Dorothy Draper & Co., the oldest interior design firm in the United States, which lists among its clientele the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art in New York City; President Jimmy Carter; actress Joan Crawford; the White House; and Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg.
“She was the original Martha Stewart. She designed rooms for the country’s most prestigious hotels and nightclubs and for the rich and famous,” Peck says of Draper who passed away in 1969. “She was the royalty of interior design.”
After the Honolulu House project wrapped up, Peck moved to New York City to work as an assistant to Elizabeth Dow, a freelance artist who worked on high-end department displays and interiors. The two of them founded a wallcovering company where he worked for a few years.
Sign over the entrance to the Camp barbershop in downtown Marshall.During this time he became acquainted with Carleton Varney, who became president of Dorothy Draper & Co. after Draper’s death in 1969. In 1994 Varney commissioned Peck to paint murals in the dining room of a home he owned in Ireland.
Varney, who passed away in July 2022, was known as “Mr. Color” in the interior design world, Peck says. Under the Draper mantle, he designed interiors for Crawford, Kennedy Schlossberg, and the Carters when they were in the White House.
After living in New York for 17 years, Peck decided to move back to his hometown of Marshall. He continues to work for Draper and Co. and is very involved with the Eastend Studio and Gallery, formerly known as GreenStreet Arts, in Marshall which he founded in 2006 to showcase the work of area artists. Some of these artists worked with him at a studio in Eastend to create 16-foot-long sheets of wallpaper with silver leaf for a ballroom in Eastend. He also hand-painted the walls and ceilings in a few rooms on the third floor along with other artists.
In his work with designers, Peck says he gets clear direction through color swatches, themes, and styles that have been selected which he tries to complement with either a mural or wallpaper. Creating something to scale is a challenge that he has navigated by taking the work in-house.
“We might create a mural in my studio here in Marshall and take it to a hotel and paste it on the wall like wallpaper and that helps with the logistics of not shutting down public rooms and it’s a great solution to work more conveniently at home and not be on the road,” Peck says. “I can roll it up and ship it and apply it somewhere else. The Breakers had artists from Italy create scenes on canvas and paste them on the ceiling. I started doing that for Carleton Varney.”
Marshall was always home
Peck credits Marshall with exposing him to a pursuit that would become his life’s work.
“There were a lot of people and programs here in Marshall that helped me,” he says. “We had a great youth theatre program that helped me get into scenic design. I did large-scale painting for scenery and that got me into large-scale interiors. I did my first set design in 1979 when I was 14.”
Noah Saber points out some family photos on the wall of his Camp barber shop in downtown Marshall.At 18 years of age, he had completed 22 shows. His work earned him an award from the Michigan Community Theatre Association that helped him get into Albion College where he studied Theatre and Anthropology.
Since coming back, he says he is busy volunteering in the community while focusing on “spreading beauty” downtown as well as throughout Calhoun County.
“I know a lot of people from around here and I’ve been involved in a lot of things growing up around here,” he says of Marshall.
The same is true for Saber who says that while he enjoyed living in the U.P., he began to miss his hometown and his family. In 2017, he sold the Culligan franchises and moved back to Marshall with his wife and their three children.
“I was 38 years old with three small children and my dad was like ‘You can’t retire yet.’ I knew I wanted to move back to Marshall.”
Assortment of the decor in the Huntsman's Hound Lounge in downtown Marshall.Saber moved to Marshall with his family when he was 14 years old.
“This town truly embraced us and took care of us. This town took us in and never let us go and made us the family that we are,” he says.
The family-owned a home on Mansion Street which they sold and recently bought back. Saber says when his parents told him he “literally had tears” in his eyes.
“This house is a magic thing in my family,” he says.
While this was transpiring, he was deciding what his next career move would be. Initially, he gave some thought to opening a high-end butcher shop that would sell items like German and Polish sausage.
“I really like cooking but my dad was in the food industry for so long and he said a startup like this wouldn’t be a good idea because everything is so risky. I didn’t want to be overly stressed with a new business approach,” Saber says. “My buddy owned a barbershop in Escanaba and I knew it could be done in such a good way.”
While talking with his father about possible opportunities, the idea for a barbershop rose to the top.
“It allows for some creativity. I’ve always wanted to own a bar. CAMP’s not a bar, but I knew if it was gone about in a specific way, it could be kind of social,” Saber says. “People talk to you when they’re getting their hair cut and often share personal information with you.”
CAMP opened in 2019, one year after Saber completed the 2,000 hours of training required to become a licensed barber in Michigan. The shop employs six fulltime barbers who between them serve no less than 200 people a week and “that’s a slow week,” Saber says. “From 8 a.m. when we open to 7 p.m. when we close, we’re busy.”
Close to 50% of CAMP’s customers are from Marshall with the remainder coming from Battle Creek, Kalamazoo, and communities like Coldwater, Charlotte, Lansing, and Eaton Rapids.
Noah Saber shows customer Richard Morrissette his haircut in the Huntsman's Hound Lounge in downtown Marshall.“Noah has a great sense of vision,” Peck says. “What he’s selling is an experience and that’s what I was able to help him do.”
Saber says  CAMP is “visually stunning” thanks to Peck’s artistry which has been complemented by donations from customers that include an elk head, mounted deer, and taxidermy ducks and geese that are now on the shop’s walls.
“People see this place and identify with it and they want some ownership in it,” he says. “When I had the shop, I knew had an invaluable asset in Mike. He was the one who suggested the mural in the front. Mike’s kindness and love is a testament to how much he cares for me and my family.”
Because of this close relationship, Saber says he was concerned that clients wouldn’t take the time to appreciate Peck’s artistry. But, they have and they do.
“When we moved into the backspace and we started talking about ideas I wanted to make sure that whatever he created would be a legacy piece for him,” Saber says. “The fact that this world-famous artist cares about me and my family and has been with me through the first and second shop blows me away every day and I get emotional just thinking about it.”

Photos by John Grap. See more of his work here.

Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.

Read more articles by Jane Parikh.

Jane Parikh is a freelance reporter and writer with more than 20 years of experience and also is the owner of In So Many Words based in Battle Creek. She is the Project Editor for On the Ground Battle Creek.