Builders

Earl Young’s Charlevoix Cottages

Charlevoix - Mushroom House by ktylerconk
Charlevoix – Mushroom House by ktylerconk

In the “things I found while looking at other things” category comes Quirky cottages in Charlevoix are winter delights from the Detroit Free Press.

Earl Young tourism is a Charlevoix specialty. The quirky builder erected 30 stone homes in town between 1918 and the 1950s, all so unusual they are often compared to works of art. Some look like mushroom houses, with undulating roofs capping boulder walls. Some are tiny. Some are enormous. Most have incredible detail — doorways of stone, window frames made of boulders, chimneys that look frosted by a giddy cake decorator. The early houses are arts and crafts or chalet style, but the later homes are rounded and organic, part Tolkien, part Keebler elf.

More about Earl Young’s cottages at the Freep including a number of Earl Young houses that are available as vacation rentals including Charlevoix’s fixture The Weathervane. View more Earl Young House photos from the Charlevoix Historical Society, check out the Earl Young Guidebook and take a video tour of the Earl Young Hobbit Houses in Charlevoix with MyNorth.

Postcard: Weathervane Terrrace Inn & Suites, Charlevoix, MIchigan by fantomaster
Postcard: Weathervane Terrrace Inn & Suites,
Charlevoix, MIchigan by fantomaster

The best resource is the Earl Young Collection at the Charlevoix Library. With everything from the ad for Earl’s first development, Boulder Park and the opening of the Weathervane to an article on his book Charlevoix the Beautiful, there’s some great stuff to be explored! Let’s close with a bit from another  article from the Freep on Young, this one from July 29, 1973 that begins:

Stone houses seem to sprout as naturally as dandelions from the soil of this pleasant Lake Michigan resort community.

And they do because of an already legendary 84-year-old man named Earl A. Young, who built them all.

For more than half a century Young has combed lonesome fields and dusty quarries searching for the odds and ends of nature. He blends stones and timber with an architect’s skill and a geologist’s respect for his raw material, and so far he has fitted more than 40 local landscapes with his art.

“l have a very strong feeling for stone,” Young explained recently as he sat in his wood-paneled office on the lower level of one of his most flamboyant creations, the Weathervane Inn, a local restaurant.

“Stones have their own personalities. People say I’m crazy when I say so, but they really do. Why I found a stone that weighed 160 tons. It was formed 350 million years ago at the bottom of a warm sea and was carried here 10,000 years ago by glaciers.”

Seeking Michigan: Towering Achievments, architect Minoru Yamasaki

Seeking MichiganBy Dale Gyure, PhD, courtesy Seeking Michigan. The goal of Seeking Michigan is simple: to connect you to the stories of this great state. Visit them regularly for a dynamic & evolving look at Michigan’s cultural heritage.

On March 2, 2010, Archives of Michigan staff responded to a call from Ted T. Ayoub to preserve the remaining records of Minoru Yamasaki. An account of that story is available in the Detroit Free Press. Yamasaki remains an important part of our international architectural heritage. This is part one of a two part blog on Yamasaki and his life as written by guest blogger Dale Allen Gyure, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Architecture, Lawrence Technological University.

A Pioneer

Michigan architect Minoru Yamasaki (1912-1986) was an architectural pioneer in both his professional and personal life. Professionally, he dared to challenge prevailing concepts of modernism. Personally, he was the first American architect “of color” to achieve fame, but despite his status was the victim of discrimination by the society he so loved. Yamasaki’s life thus embodies some of the triumphs and tragedies of American society in the twentieth century.

Minoru Yamasaki was born to a struggling family in a poor Japanese-American neighborhood of Seattle. He lived his first few years in a tenement without indoor bathrooms. While in high school, Minoru decided to devote his life to architecture. He graduated from the University of Washington and then moved to New York City, finding employment with several prominent architectural firms. After many years of training, his talents were recognized when he was hired by the Detroit firm of Smith, Hinchman & Grylls in 1945 to be their chief designer. His move to the Detroit area would be permanent. Four years later, Yamasaki started his own architectural office.

After achieving national recognition with the Lambert-St. Louis Airport terminal (1956), Yamasaki’s architecture underwent a drastic change. Inspired by great architecture from the past, Yamasaki turned toward a gentler, more decorated style of modernism, and away from the more severe, rectangular glass box style that characterized some of his early work and much of contemporary architecture. He spoke of the need to reinvigorate modernism by reintroducing the lost qualities of “delight” and “serenity.” From historical architecture he learned to create buildings that related both to their surroundings and their occupants.

Mid Century Modernism

Yamasaki began to produce a series of buildings that moved architectural modernism in a new direction. One of the first was the McGregor Memorial Conference Center at Wayne State University in Detroit (1959). A simple, two-story building for meetings became a delightful experience in Yamasaki’s hands. The McGregor Center was inspired by sources as varied as Gothic cathedrals, the Taj Mahal, and traditional Zen Buddhist temples. Yamasaki later added the Education Building (1960) and the Prentiss Building and DeRoy Auditorium (1964) to the Wayne State campus.

For the Second Part of This Article, Click Here

Seeking Michigan Guest Blogger

Dale Allen Gyure is Associate Professor of Architecture at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield, Michigan, where he teaches classes in architectural history and theory, and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Historic Preservation at Goucher College, where he teaches a course in American Architectural History and serves as Co-Director of the Master’s Thesis program. Dr. Gyure’s research focuses on American architecture of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, particularly the intersections of architecture, education, and society.

Dr. Gyure has earned a Ph.D. in architectural history from the University of Virginia, a J.D. from Indiana University, and a B.S. from Ball State University. Before becoming a historian, he practiced law in Tampa, Florida. Dr. Gyure lives in Farmington Hills, Michigan, with his wife, Jan, and two sons.


Michigan seeks to use Land Banks for redevelopment

Abandoned Richardsonian Romanesque House in Detroit ( Former James Scott Mansion ) by Derek Farr
Abandoned Richardsonian Romanesque House in Detroit
( Former James Scott Mansion )
by Derek Farr

Michigan has 29 land bank authorities – more than any state. The Detroit News reports that Michigan is going to try to use these land banks to spur redevelopment and garner nearly $300 million:

With the federal money expected to come in January, cities such as Detroit and counties such as Oakland are starting land bank agencies for the first time. The state filed for the Housing and Urban Development funding through a coalition that includes 12 city governments and eight counties. It’s a national competition, and the overall fund totals $1.9 billion. Battle Creek, Benton Harbor, Hamtramck, Highland Park, Kalamazoo, Lansing, Pontiac, Saginaw and Wyandotte also would be targeted for revitalization.

The Michigan Land Bank Fast Track Authority would provide land bank services in Detroit; Oakland County, including Pontiac; and Kent County, including Grand Rapids, until local land banks are ready to take over.

Under the plan, the Michigan land banks aim to buy and redevelop more than 6,000 foreclosed, abandoned and vacant properties. The land banks also envision razing 2,500 structures and rehabilitating or building 1,500 homes.

There’s also an effort to encourage urban gardeners to develop empty city lots and allow homeowners to buy inexpensive vacant lots next to their property. “We expect (Detroit’s land bank) to be the most aggressive developer in the city,” said Douglas Diggs, interim director of the city’s land bank office.

Good news for Michigan cities! Check out the Abandoned slideshow from the Absolute Michigan pool for some likely suspects for the money!

Weird Wednesday: Stonehenge Reloaded

The last Wednesday of every month is a “Weird Wednesday” on Absolute Michigan, when we feature offbeat stories from the Great Lakes State. Check out more Weird Wednesdays from Absolute Michigan.

Here’s a video feature that we last showed so long ago, it should feel new to just about everyone! Thanks Jim for the reminder…

Wally Wallington of Flint has demonstrated that he can lift a Stonehenge-sized pillar weighing 22,000 lbs and moved a barn over 300 ft in this great video feature. What makes this so special is that he does it using only himself, gravity, and his incredible ingenuity. Check this out and then check out theforgottentechnology.com.

Photo Friday: With St. Anne, Church People by fotek

fotek is working on a great set of Photomatix HDR photos of St. Anne’s Church in Detroit (slideshow). He says that it’s such a beautiful church that pictures will never do it justice, but I think he may be wrong.

Some of his other sets include Detroit and Mt. Clemens and you should check out his Flickrriver too!

When Ice Attacks: Saginaw Bay homes damaged


Weird Wednesday already? Nope. Huge piles of ice were pushed by NE winds into homes along Linwood Beach (just north of Bay City), forcing evacuations and causing damage. Linwood Beach residents return to find ice piled around, inside and atop their homes from the Bay City Times begins:

“I was making a grocery list in the kitchen and the next thing you know, we had this,” said Angie Hughes, nodding at the ice resting inside her kitchen.

“Once we saw the first two piles of ice coming over the seawall, we just ran,” Steve Hughes said Monday, returning to assess the damage. “I just remember hearing the kitchen window explode and the kitchen table getting thrown back.

“It was just incredible to see. It’s got to be about 50 tons of ice that came up here in less than a few minutes.”

It has some great photos from this latest ice incursion from Saginaw Bay and also from a similar incident in 1946 when Lake Huron ice devastated homes along the bay.

Photo Friday: Untitled by ( Jennifer )

Untitled by (  Jennifer  )

Jennifer took this photo the other day in Evart (Osceola County). It’s part of her architecture set (slideshow).

She lives in Cascade and has some other sets you might enjoy including Antrim County, Grand Rapids and (my personal favorite) Torch Lake Summers.

2008 Michigan Energy Fair, June 27-29 in Manistee

Spinners 1 by n8xd
Spinners 1 by n8xd

The 3rd annual Michigan Energy Fair will be held June 27-29, 2008 at the Manistee County Fairgrounds in Onekama. Billed as “one of the most comprehensive expositions of renewable energy generating equipment, home and business energy efficiency techniques, and technical workshops in the state”.

The 2007 Michigan Energy Fair hosted over 4000 attendees who viewed the products and services of over 100 sponsors and exhibitors. Check out the video below in which fair organizer Jeremy Wittrock talks about the 2007 event

The Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association is bringing in several noted speakers including Gov. Jennifer Granholm, Dr. Richard Blieden, and David Konkle. Workshops will address topics including wind energy, green building, geothermal heating and cooling, home energy efficiency and energizing Michigan’s economy.

Michigan send $18 billion dollars to other states in energy costs. With activities for kids, food, music and a wide range of exhibitors, the Michigan Energy Fair is a great place to learn about how we can go about reversing this drain on our state’s economy.

Energy Fair Links

Recap of the 2007 Michigan Energy Fair

Recap of the 2006 Michigan Energy Fair

The Michigan land Use Institute reports on the 2007 Michigan Energy Fair (with video) and also on the 2006 Michigan Energy Fair.

Check Absolute Michigan keyword energy for a gigawatt more related links and articles.

Building Green in Michigan


grand rapids art museum by chadâ„¢

When the topic of ‘green building’ comes up many still think of images such as earthships, built from recycled materials including used tires. Although efficient and intelligently designed, they didn’t necessarily appeal to the maintstream home owner or developers. Today green buildings appear much like any other home or building. They are designed to save money, use energy and water efficiently, reduce waste and create over all healthier environments for living and working. Faced with increasing energy costs and the impact we place upon the environment the climate is ripe for the green building industry.

Perhaps surprisingly, Michigan is among the green building leaders in the nation – trailing only Oregon and California. As of April, 2007, 212 buildings in Michigan were registered or certified under LEED, placing Michigan in the top 10 states with registered green buildings. Within the state the west side is outpacing the east, with Grand Rapids out in front having the most LEED certified buildings.

Standing out is the newly built Grand Rapids Art Museum which recently received the distinction of being the world’s first Gold LEED certified art museum. More stories from The Chicago Tribune, New York Time, Architect and ARTnews can be found here. In Lansing, General Motors has built the only auto assembly plant in the world to receive LEED certification. General Motors’ new Lansing Delta Township Assembly Plant has received a gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program. The building is the only automotive manufacturing plant in the world — as well as the largest facility and the most complex manufacturing site — to ever receive any level of LEED certification. MSNBC covered this in 2006 in their feature GM builds a eco-friendly assembly plant – $1 million-a-year energy savings touted at unveiling

OK, time to grab the popcorn…

A video over at YouTube from Medialink titled “Buildings Are More Responsible For CO2 Emissions Than Cars” was produced for General Motors and is an interesting watch.

Even more below the fold…

Absolute Michigan Sponsor: Handy Connections

Handy ConnectionsHandy Connections is based in Rochester Hills, Michigan, and was founded by folks with experience in the construction industry to help Michigan residents locate quality service professionals for any home repair or remodeling project.

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At the core of their service is Handy’s Rating, an unbiased rating system under which service professionals can not pay a premium fee to increase their listing rank, rating or which type of jobs they receive.

If your businesses or organization would like to help to support what we do on Absolute Michigan (and reach an audience that loves Michigan), please consider Absolute Michigan sponsorship!