‘The Essence of Charlevoix’
A study in craftsmanship and quality
By Anne Kelly
Photos by G. Randall Goss
Twenty-five years ago, Jim and Patti Anderson had a dream: to build a home in Charlevoix, a special place where they had vacationed for years. They hoped this home would become a haven for their blended family to gather and enjoy everything the area had to offer. Today their dream is a reality and the welcome mat is out for extended family, including 10 grandchildren, as well as guests.
“Camp Wobegon” is etched in limestone on a front porch pillar, a tongue-in-cheek reference to Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion radio show in which ordinary community events are recorded as news in a small town. In this home in the small town of Charlevoix, the Andersons’ Camp Wobegon is making its own stories.
“We wanted the house to be built in the tradition of the town’s big, old homes,” said Jim, “to be the essence of Charlevoix.”
Patti is grateful for the many people who worked with them through the process, especially East Jordan architect Tim Hansma of Architects II Ltd who “was the guiding force through it all.”
The final product is a state-of the-art residence located in a residential neighborhood on East Dixon Avenue, one of the great old streets of Charlevoix, walking distance to downtown and overlooking Round Lake. From the street side, the stately home is an impressive two-story structure built in 19th century style with pale yellow cedar shingles and white trim work, a central hall entryway with double wood and stained-glass front doors and a gracious front porch supported by massive pillars. The addition of a copper-domed sitting porch on the west side of the structure, a second story bedroom with balcony overlooking East Dixon, and a peek of a third floor copper cupola which is the roof of the children’s library, are just hints of the unique architectural details prevalent throughout the entire design. An attached three car garage on the east side has a side entrance incorporated in the design so as to not detract from, but to balance, the visual impact of the whole.
The first stage of construction began with the boathouse designed by Hansma and executed by Site Planning Development of Charlevoix, which landscaped and continues to maintain the entire property. From the Round Lake side, all five stories are visible. Massive boulders form the retaining wall and punctuate the elevation from ground level to the first floor of the residence.
“This was a long-range project,” said John Campbell, owner of Site Planning. “In 1998, the Andersons purchased the first of three properties on East Dixon which would eventually accommodate a structure of this size. Thirteen years later in 2011 (1-1-11) we broke ground and began construction of the boathouse … the project had to be constructed from the lowest elevation,” he said.
In 2012, the construction of the main house was turned over to Tom Adams and Ken Provost of Birchwood Construction Company in Harbor Springs who carried it to the finish line four years later in 2017. Building three stories from the East Dixon elevation down was a challenge for design and construction as plans moved forward on the main house.
“From grouting the soil to setting the big concrete pilings it was a logistics challenge … with setbacks, it took us a year just to get it out of the ground,” said Provost.
All of the architectural details in the main house, including windows, porches and balconies, are designed to take advantage of the breathtaking views of the town, the harbor and the channel leading out to Lake Charlevoix, and were a collaboration between the Andersons and Hansma.
“The unique experience for me, was being so much involved in the process,” said Hansma. “I was onsite almost every day to make sure that as issues arose, they were solved before they became problems.”
The structural elements are a study in craftsmanship.
The Andersons and Hansma participated in selecting subcontractors, utilizing as many local workers as possible, but all the finish carpentry and painting in the home was performed by Birchwood Construction family members.
“This was a once-in-a-lifetime chance for our artisans and craftsmen to showcase their talents,” said Provost. “It was a highpoint that our carpenters got to be involved in things that most guys don’t get an opportunity to do; taking the time to do something that was truly an artisan craft.”
Adams and Provost said the challenges and rewards from a construction standpoint were the installation of the massive walnut beams in the great room, all the work done on scaffolding overhead, the impressive ceiling in the kitchen, the built-in custom cabinetry under every staircase, the woodworking in Jim Anderson’s office, the sanded-in-place wood floors, and the reclaimed wood, dredged from Round Lake when they put in the boat docks, which was repurposed for the locker room.
Visitors are welcomed in the home’s center hall and can gather in one of several areas. A casual great room, eating area, cozy sunroom and dining room, all open onto a porch to facilitate the flow of guests. Serving is accomplished from a three counter kitchen and adjacent catering kitchen. The master suite is on the main floor and family suites, TV/gathering room and children’s library are located upstairs. The bunk room, boys’ and girls’ bathrooms, recreation area and bar, a lap pool, locker room and home theater are on the lower level. An elevator allows easy access to all levels. Outdoor patio areas and several porches feature spectacular views of Round Lake harbor.
The interior of the Anderson home is beautifully furnished and decorated. Long-time friend and designer Sandy Morrow of Design Gifts Unlimited advised Patti on furnishings, fabric and color throughout the process. Another long-time friend, Georgeann Lindberg of Charlevoix’s G. Lindberg Interiors Inc., was also helpful in suggesting and arranging décor.
Artistic contributions add to the home’s regional ambience. Artwork by various Michigan artists is incorporated throughout. Harbor Springs artist Elissa Marsh did the intricate lettering and hand-painted details in the dome of the children’s room, the dormitory bathrooms and at the entrance to the home theater, painstakingly painted to resemble ceramic tiles. Erik Hess of Charlevoix’s Northern Forge and Fabrication designed and built the wrought iron fencing around the home. Todd Warner’s whimsical sculptures (the butler, the maid, the golfer, the fisherman) livening up corridors, and the magnificent front door showcases the woodworking of Elenbaas Millwork and art glass by Neil Hanscomb of Ontario, who also created the stained glass circular window in the children’s turret area.
The Anderson home is ADA (American Disabilities Act) compliant.
“We wanted to accommodate everyone in our plan” said Patti, “friends, aging parents and guests with disabilities.”
“Everything was designed with ‘quality first’ being the operative,” said Hansma of the one-of-a kind features throughout the home.
“Jim was more than just a customer,” said Adams. “He was a mentor. Both Ken and I walked away from the project end meeting, grateful to the family that was wonderful to work with… Jim is just so wise and knowledgeable of how projects should be run and he helped us immensely throughout the process… Something that endeared him to us in our first meeting was the emphasis he placed on quality materials and superior craftsmanship.”
This home that was to exemplify “the essence of Charlevoix” exceeds all expectations.
Written By By Anne Kelly, photos by G. Randall Goss and Molly Hauxwell Currier