Join us for a premier one-day home tour featuring 13 beautiful homes, thoughtfully designed and surrounded by stunning landscapes in Grand Traverse and Leelanau counties. The Traverse City Area Northern Home & Cottage Home Tour is Saturday, September 16 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Below is a sneak peek inside home #13.

Proceeds raised during the Traverse City Area Home Tour will benefit Northern Michigan non-profit, Child and Family Services of Northwestern Michigan. Save money by purchasing tickets online at or by calling 800.836.0717. Online ticket sales end Friday, September 15 at noon. Tickets are also available at the door.

Address: 17898 Smokey Hollow Rd.

Directions: Beginning from The Renewal House on Whispering Pines Trail: Backtrack north on Whispering Pines Trail to Smokey Hollow Road. Turn right onto Smokey Hollow Road and drive 1.2 miles.

Designer: Cedar Creek Interiors, 231.498.2511

We could tell the story of this 7,000-square-foot home on Old Mission Peninsula from several different angles: a Chicago judge built it in 1865; socialite Louise Cromwell, famous for being the first wife of General Douglas Macarthur, once summered in it; its most recent incarnation was as the Stonewall Inn; the tradespeople who remodeled it have taken phone photos of a ghost they swear haunts it (the apparition in the photos resembles that Chicago judge …).

But we’ll simply boil all that down to this: owner John DiLorenzo found a home with enough colorful backstory to match his own lively personality. John, who divides his time between his Traverse City and downstate offices, fell in love with the home back in 2000. At that time it wasn’t for sale. But a log cabin and tiny house that once were a part of the home’s original estate were for sale. John bought them, renovated them and also built a third building on the property. All the while he was eyeing the inn next door, and when the owners were ready to sell several years ago, he purchased it. John considered continuing running it as an inn, but in the end has opted to turn into his private home—a place that is cozy when he is there alone, but spacious enough to have his friends and his big Italian family visit often.

And how would John DiLorenzo, CEO of the health insurance company Michigan Planners, like his chapter as the new owner of the Stonewall Inn to read? Well, see, he says he’s planning to play the character of Clark Griswold in the movie National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and invite his relatives for the holidays …

Only, this version will have a picture-perfect ending because John is a wonderful host and the home has just finished a top-to-bottom renovation that has modernized it while preserving the vintage charm. That charm includes the original wood floors and all of the original bathroom fixtures—meaning claw foot bathtubs and pedestal sinks. Kim Hooker of Cedar Creek Interior collaborated with John on the redo that included the home’s eight bedrooms, kitchen, living room and office. “Kim is a lot of fun to work with,” John says. “I had my own ideas and she had hers. The collaboration was extraordinary.” Builder Jamie Wilkins, of Trillium Shore, rounded out the reno team.

Tourgoers will get to see those vintage bathrooms. They can imagine the food-loving DiLorenzo family making Christmas dinner in the spacious, completely updated kitchen that feels vintage—right down to the handcrafted walnut base that Jamie built. They’ll ooh and ahhh over the two Victorian-era iron mantels that Kim found and had mounted on the living room and the dining room fireplaces. They’ll be awed by the many wallpapers that Kim chose to give the rooms unique identities. They’ll gush over the spectacular views of East Grand Traverse Bay from every room in the house. Who knows? They might even see a ghost.

Preview all 13 homes on the Traverse Area Home Tour in the August 2017 issue of Northern Home & Cottage.

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Photo(s) by Dave Speckman