A family with long-time ties to Harbor Springs finds a new old home in a familiar setting. Find this home and others in the April 2015 issue of Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine and Northern Home & Cottage.
Sometimes you just know when a house is right. Dana Rebhun knew when she and a friend toured a vintage Carpenter Gothic–style home near Walstrom Marine in Harbor Springs. She and her husband, Chris, had been searching for a home in the area, and Dana, who believes in serendipity, knew the modest wood-framed house was the one.
Three things convinced her, she says—a vintage door handle to the garage emblazoned with a large R, a painting in an upstairs bedroom of Harbor Point, where Chris’s Cincinnati-based family has owned a house since the turn of the last century, and an antique print in the downstairs office (now the master bedroom) of the SS Northland, a last century Great Lakes passenger steamer. Dana had come across the same image years earlier on a vintage postcard and had it enlarged to an oversized poster that now hangs over the fireplace in the kitchen.
Dana felt so strongly about the 2,400-square-foot, three-bedroom, 2 ½-bath house near the marina that the couple didn’t even wait for Chris to see it before making an offer. “He loves to sail,” she explained. “I sent him a photo of the outside and he could see the halyards at the marina and he said ‘let’s put in an offer and see if it works out.”
The couple also loved the house itself. “We had looked at quite a few, but this one is unique,” Dana says. “I loved the warmth of interior stone, the living room paneling, the quaint upstairs bedrooms and the large bath. It was just perfect for our family.” She says the house is unusual for the area, and that the stone walls in the kitchen, hallway and powder room remind her of Western architecture, including Colorado, where the family lived for 30 years.
Luckily for the Rebhuns, most of the serious renovation work had already been done when they bought it. They concentrated on lightening up the rooms with paint and new carpeting, converting the downstairs office to a master bedroom, and adding both a new back porch and a bunkhouse, out of a garden shed. They also painted the house a fresh green, and added new landscaping, working with Amy Brubacher of Vidosh North.
While they updated both interior and exterior, the family was careful to respect the home’s long history, which includes a move from Third Street to its current location. Some sources claim the clapboard Carpenter Gothic is the oldest house still standing in the city; for years it was known as Ingraham and Sons paint store. During a tour, Dana points to a grainy black and white photograph that shows the house bearing a sign between the two upstairs windows that lists available services 4 and reads “Painting … since 1931.” The home is filled with historic photos, many by Virgil Haynes, a beloved local photographer who worked in the postwar decades.
The family of five—including three kids in their 20s—spends as much time in Harbor Springs as they can, usually June through September and the winter holidays. “My kids are fifth generation,” Dana says. “They just love it here.”
Based in Denver until recently, Chris and Dana are trying to figure out where to spend the other six months of the year now that they are empty nesters. “About 85 percent of our life is in storage right now,” Dana says. “Our priorities have changed.”
One thing that hasn’t changed is the family’s desire to spend as much time in Michigan as they can. From the house, it’s five minutes by bike to Harbor Point, less by boat. Come summer, they love sitting outside on the newly added back porch that looks out over the lush cottage garden. They can see the harbor and Harbor Point from the front porch.
Serendipity, clearly, has served them well. The house has turned out to be everything they hoped it would be—and more. “We’re very happy here,” Dana says. “It was kind of meant to be.”
Builder (bunkhouse and porch): Keith Lutz (bunkhouse and porch) 231.838.3633
Landscape: Amy Brubacher, Vidosh North, 231.347.6851, vidoshnorth.com
Paint: Benjamin Moore, Complete Paint, Harbor Springs, 231.526.1458, completepaintandsupplies.com
Housepainter: Zehr Painting, Petoskey, 231.622.4658, zehrpainting.com
Carpet: Pumco Interiors, 231.347.8124, pumcointeriors.com