The outpouring of love and support for the restoration of the Community Center truly illustrates what standing up for Clark Lake means.
For a century, the Graziani cottage stood on Kentucky Point. In its one hundredth year, it was saved from the bulldozer by Clark Lakers who managed to float it down the lake to the County Park, where it underwent its first restoration. Now, 25 years later, the iconic structure is being saved again, this time from disrepair. The second historic restoration is underway, because Clark Lakers are contributing generously.
The amount received so far has not yet met the needed goal. But enough is available to begin work. An update follows, but first a snapshot from the past.
In 1967 Carlotta Graziani Wilson wrote about her family at Clark Lake and their Kentucky Point cottage. In a piece you can read on this website, she describe the layout this way: “On the second floor, there were four lovely bedrooms and on the third floor were the servant’s quarters with also four bedrooms.” Work has started in what was once the servant quarters—the third floor attic. Why start with attic? Over the years, bats and other critters colonized it. In these photos, Mike McKay surveys what they left behind.
Can you imagine a trip to the attic on a summer evening? Not a pretty thought. Giving critters free reign made the space unusable and increased the threat of further infestations and structural damage. So, the first step was to say goodbye to the bats. Because they are a protected species, one-way tunnels were installed. Once bats departed in the evening, a flap shut, preventing reentry. Next, their passageways were sealed. But their mess remained. Over the last couple weeks, crews removed the plastic sheets and damaged insulation. The photos in the slide show were taken facing south. The “after” picture below was taken facing north.
Usable attic space will solve longstanding storage needs. The Garden Angels currently use most of a second story room for shovels, rakes and other tools that they use to landscape around the house and triangle. Raft-O-Rama stores items in another room. That room is also the office which houses file cabinets that preserve records, receipts, and historical documents. A fair amount of miscellaneous items are scattered room to room, and clutter other areas. The attic space is a perfect solution, and making it usable is cost effective. Spray insulation will be installed under the eaves. Two walls of lightweight, low cost material will be erected along east and west sides. Existing windows on both ends will allow natural light.
What else has happened?
A leak around the chimney allowed water to drip into the office, destroying the finish of the large wooden desk. Flip Reynolds made arrangements with Billy White roofing who repaired it at no charge in the fall.
Security was an issue. The door handle and lock on the most-used entrance barely worked, much to the frustration of those trying to use it. Handles and locks have been replaced on each entrance. Two of them operate electronically through number pads, and eventually, via WIFI. Mike McKay was able to convince the supplier to reduce cost of the hardware, and M-R Builder installed the door handles and locks at each of the six locations as part of a $10,000 in-kind donation.
The entire ground level decks and stairs must be replaced. Natural elements caused rot, and weakened the infrastructure. The deck will be restored with an eye on new materials that will be long lasting and match the look of the house.
The stairs leading to the north entrance are in poor shape and must also be replaced. With that comes an opportunity. As the entrance most used, many have wondered if the look could be improved. The good news? New steps will be built and covered by a canopy over them. That will protect the steps somewhat from the elements. The more formal look will enhance the Victorian architecture and offer a warmer welcome.
A goal of the restoration is to maintain the charming look and feel of the cottage when dealing with current disrepair. Materials are being investigated for their appearance, durability and limitations of the budget.
To view the list of expected repairs, please click here.
Clark Lakers are indeed generous. Have you thought of joining the effort? Donors will be recognized in a large, period-appropriate display inside the house. Names will be inscribed and become a permanent part of Clark Lake history. You can contribute by credit card through this website, by clicking here, Click the box that says “I would like this donation to go to a specific fund” and choose “Community Center.” Or write a check to the Clark Lake Spirit Foundation and mail it to PO Box 224, Clark Lake, MI 49234. The $50,000 matching grant from the Michael Ibold Wilger Foundation doubles the impact of donations of up to $2,500.
The Clark Lake Spirit Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit.
Important acknowledgements that deserve thanks:
- M-R Builder is making a $10,000 in-kind donation that will greatly help the restoration process.
- During the recent snow, Bill Bendele cleared the parking area at no charge so work could continue on the attic.
- Aaron Richards of Columbia Cleaning Service washed the windows in the fall. He will power wash the house in the spring as another donation of service.
The Clark Lake Community Center Leadership Group
Left to right: Jaimie Thomson, Mike McKay, Ann Swain, Mick Thorrez, Meredythe Hill-VanDusen, Flip Reynolds. Not pictured, Rick Belcher