Frank Lloyd Wright and Lake Superior
This property, land and buildings, is stunning. Nothing about finding the land and creating the home to fit this site was left to chance. The owners tell the story here of how they found it searching for "an impossible dream" 32 years ago:
"Having grown up in northern Wisconsin near Lake Superior a lot of time was spent on the shore of the lake. Lake Superior has a presence, a spirit, which becomes part of your soul. Living on the shore of Lake Michigan near Milwaukee brought home the truth that there is no match to Superior.
"In 1980 we began a search for the ideal Lake Superior property. It would have to have a rocky shoreline so that the water would always be sparkling clear. It would have at least 400 feet of frontage, to be well separated from other development. The property would have to have mature pines that would stay green through the winter. And the property would have to be far enough away from highways to silence road noise.
"Our search began at Superior Wisconsin and continued eastward over highways near the lake. On weekends over three summers we traveled down every road that led to the lake. The searches led us across Wisconsin, into Michigan, up the Keweenaw, down to Marquette and then continued eastward.
"At the Scott Falls roadside park on MI-28 we saw encouraging signs for the first time: Rocky shoreline, pines and land jutting into the lake away from the road. At the end of Koski Road, we came to a yellow gate and decided to explore. We found land that was exciting beyond our dreams, but not for sale. We hired an agent to attempt to buy our perfect 400 foot parcel. The discussions became a nearly three year frustrating process that resulted in us buying the full parcel from the previous owner.
"Our three year search covering nearly the entire south shore of Lake Superior leaves us confident we can say that this is a one of a kind property."
It is one thing to find the perfect property and quite another to use it in a way that features and complements the finest attributes of the site. The beauty of this property was a formidable challenge. It demanded a unique architectural vision and the owners and their architect rose to the challenge. As they tell it:
"Our house has a clear Frank Lloyd Wright influence. Herbert Fritz Jr. designed the home. His Father Herbert Fritz Sr. was one of Wright`s original five draftsmen at Spring Green. He was one of three survivors of the 1914 Taliesin massacre where a deranged servant killed seven people before he set fire to the Wright home.
"Herbert Jr. began his association with Wright at the age of 16 when he began to work as Wright`s chauffeur. He later completed a Taliesin education and became a practicing architect. We believe Herbert Fritz Jr. was the last practicing architect to have studied directly with Frank Lloyd Wright.
"Mr. Fritz died in 1995. Our home was his last completed work."
In addition to the 4,600 SF, 3 bedroom, 3.5 bath home the property includes an additional 6,600 SF of buildings including a detached two-car garage, a casita (small guest cottage), large art studio/shop/apartment, and a machine shed housing large construction equipment and a shop.
The best coastal highway of the northern U.P., M-28, provides easy access from the property to the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Hiawatha National Forest, two deepwater harbors, a first class downhill ski area, limitless cross country and snowmobile trails, wild land, and lakes and streams. This property is two and a half miles from the highway, far enough that you will not hear logging trucks and traffic on quiet nights, but close enough for easy access. This makes the land unusually accessible and usable year-round, without compromising privacy.
Fifteen miles to the east Munising has world-class natural assets: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Grand Island, a National Park in Munising Bay, and Hiawatha National Forest. 28 miles to the west Marquette offers a regional hospital, regional airport, regional seaport, shopping, cultural activities and events and even Division I sports (hockey) at Northern Michigan University.
Marquette is the U.P.'s largest city, an All-American, Most Livable, and Best Small Arts community. There is an excellent harbor for big-water boating and a variety of city services including scheduled jet service. It has a Level II Trauma Center at Marquette General Hospital, soon to be acquired by Duke Lifepoint, which means excellent medical care by doctors who live in the community. Northern Michigan University has 10,000 students and faculty that add to the cultural life of this region.
A benefit of vacationing or living in this area that is often overlooked by people looking for a winter getaway is that Marquette now has the regional airport, a former Strategic Air Command facility with a 12,000 foot runway built for B-52's (now long gone). Anyone who has flown into western mountain resorts in the winter knows the seat gripping that goes on approaching short, 6000-foot runways in the snow. That is not the case here.
Our warming earth may be bad news in most places, but so far it has been kind to the U.P. Summers are longer and it is dryer now, which means fewer bugs in spring. We don't have the hurricanes, offshore oil wells, or rising ocean that threaten other areas. Lake Superior is the largest body of fresh water in the U.S. containing 10% of the world's available fresh water. It means we live in naturally air-conditioned country here. This great body of fresh water cools the air in summer and moderates cold temperatures in the winter.
If you are a sailor or power-boater you'll have interesting and scenic places to enjoy and explore with your friends. Pictured Rocks is an easy cruise east to Munising or, heading west, take the Houghton Canal that cuts through the Keweenaw and visit Isle Royal National Park. Tie up in Houghton and visit the Keweenaw National Historical Park commemorating the history of copper mining. When Horace Greeley said, "Go west young man, go west," he was not talking about Montana -- he was referring to the Keweenaw! He was right: many great fortunes were made in the U.P. Stop for a day at any of the lakeside towns and villages up and down the coastline and you'll discover abundant history, and fine art, some of it made right here at the subject property.
Year round use is reasonable and you need to see and enjoy the drama and majesty of this country in full winter! So many people think the summer is the best season. Fall is my first choice, but winter is second. Winter can be magical. Marquette Mountain Ski Area inside the Marquette city limit is, in my opinion, one of the best in the state. I was a full-certified ski instructor and have seen and skied them all.
Fall colors in the U.P. are incredibly intense. That is a result of the mix of interesting forest types and frosty air, but all four seasons arrive just before I am finished with the last one. You should see the trout we caught on dry flies last spring. A friend shared photos (and the fishing location) of five brook trout over 20 inches caught on the 2012 trout opener.
Unlike most areas with exceptional natural beauty, Michigan's Upper Peninsula has not been over-developed and will not be. 50% of the U.P. is in federal or state ownership, which gives the land permanent protection.
When the wind is in from Canada you will hear the lake. It is a sound like no other, and I will never live far from it. The sensory pleasures of this land are legion: the sweep of the bay, dramatic points and islands in a cobalt inland sea, the wash and sweep of the nation's purest water on red-painted sandstone shores. Boulders the size of Volkswagens lie below your kayak where glaciers left them and Northern Lights dance above. Out on the horizon great lake freighters aglow with sparkling lights, pass headed for distant ports. Mother Nature conditions the air and it smells of pine.
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