Tuesday, December 10, 2013

On Lotus Pond

Have you ever passed by Lotus Pond and noticed the little old white gazebo resting on the edge of the pond?  Have you wondered what the mysterious home it belongs to looks like?

 "The Genschaw Place," as it's referred to by the locals, is a grand residence built in 1940 with three master suites on the main floor, each with original imported Italian marble baths, and a servants' quarters above the garage.  You can find more pictures on our website here. (The home sold this summer.)

Enclosed porch of the "Genshaw House"
The family who recently sold the home had owned it since shortly after it was built.  The house was not only a family home, but used as a banquet hall by locals for special gatherings for years. When I questioned a relative of the owner about the people who built it and why they sold it so quickly, I was told that the home was built as a summer residence for a wealthy man's wife who did not like it up here and refused to stay at the home.  Of course, I got a little curious and had to see if there was more to the story.  The tale that emerged was truly one worth telling, and one that I couldn't resist sharing here on the Lakeshore blog.

The Lee Plaza
The story begins with Gertrude Eugenie "Eugenia" Salmon, born on April 27, 1910 in Cincinatti.  Her father Charles worked as an ink salesman first in Cincinatti and by 1920  in Chicago, eventually owning his own ink company in Detroit.  The Salmons lived a life of privilege and owned an apartment in the posh Lee Plaza on Grand River Avenue in downtown Detroit. The 1930 census states that the Salmons were paying $150 per month in rent, which is equal to about $2,000 per month in today's market.

By 1930, when Eugenie was 20 years old, she was a young divorcee living with her parents in their lavish Detroit flat and spending time at the family's summer estate on Presque Isle Harbor. That summer, Ross W. Judson, founder of the Continental Motor Company, parked his $750,000 mega-yacht in Presque Isle Harbor and hosted a party, which Eugenie attended.  

One of Judson's yachts, the Trudione, built in 1930
Interior of the COMOCO, another of Judson's yachts

The following year, seemingly out of nowhere, Eugenie's attorney filed an intent to place a $250,000 suit against Mr. Judson, to his disbelief.  He could not imagine what he could have done to provoke Miss Salmon. (Mr. Judson, inventor of the 4 cylinder engine, had initially invested $2,800 into his company in 1903 and upon his retirement in 1929 was reportedly worth $35,000,000 - about $480,000,000 today.) With her attorney keeping mum about the nature of the charges, many speculated a scandalous affair between the millionaire yachtsman and the dark, dashing young divorcee.

Eugenie Salmon & Ross W. Judson

As more details of the suit emerged, the charges were revealed.  Eugenie alleged that while she was in Judson's dinghy headed for his yacht moored in Presque Isle Harbor, she was thrown back in the boat and hurt her spine, which had affected her nerves.  She claimed that this injury had ruined her chances of a career in show business, and wanted $250,000 in compensation.

The suit was eventually thrown out, with Eugenie being paid a very small sum of money to cover her medical expenses.  She was quoted as saying the whole ordeal was "just business" and that Judson should not take it personally.

In 1931, Eugenie wandered into the Radio-Electrical World's Fair in Chicago, and her striking beauty earned her the title of "Miss Television," a title for which dozens of girls were competing. She was possibly not even aware of the contest before arriving.

In 1934, Eugenie married a wealthy older stockbrocker from New York City named Alfred Stamm. 
Alfred Stamm
They soon ventured off on a $25,000 honeymoon trip in which they completely circled the globe, at Eugenie's request.  Upon, returning, Eugenie began living the life of a millionaire, going on lavish shopping sprees and filling the couple's multiple posh Manhattan flats with fineries imported from all over the world.  The couple had two sons, Peter and Robert, born in 1936 and 1937. 

Soon thereafter, construction began on a lavish summer residence on Lotus Pond in Presque Isle, which took 2 full years to finish.  The home contained 5 bedrooms, each with its own bath featuring imported Italian marble, a maid's quarters, and even a bomb shelter build under the grand full-length porch facing Lotus Pond.  The home was finished in 1940.

One of the Italian marble tile baths

By 1941, the relationship between Eugenie and Alfred Stamm had soured considerably.  It was then that Eugenie began plotting one of the greatest scandals of her time.  With her husband busy earning money, Eugenie suddenly began spending as much of it as she possibly could, with wild shopping sprees that made her the envy of the other girls who frequented the trendy upscale NYC boutiques.  These shopping sprees took place in July and August of 1941 and included $3,170 on 13 coats, including opossum, white caracul and white fox, $1,876 on 66 pieces of lingerie, $1,265 on 16 suits, $671 on 72 blouses and shirts, $653 on cosmetics and $582 on 47 pairs of shoes.  Other items bought in bulk included hats, brassieres, girdles, silk stockings (256 pairs!), gloves and more.  The grand total of these items, which were being delivered to the couple's flats continuously, was estimated at $16,762 (well over $266,000 by today's standards.)

After she finished buying everything she could possibly find for herself, she began shipping the items, along with everything else the couple already owned, to warehouses, to family, and to the Lotus Pond house.  Before long, both the couple's secondary flats at the Eldorado and the Carlyle were completely cleaned out, down to the carpets, the ashtrays, and the kitchen utensils, unbeknownst to her busy husband.

Then one summer day, while at the Lotus Pond house, Alfred was shocked when Eugenie spoke these words seemingly out of the blue - "I am through with you."  When he asked what was wrong she simply replied, "Go back to New York.  You'll find out."  She was, of course, referring to the fact that he would return to apartments that were completely stripped bare of everything but his own clothing.  She then added that if her parents were to force her to return to New York with him, she would show him how to spend money.  She'd keep spending until he was begging her for a divorce.  Her parents did not, fortunately for Alfred, suggest that she save her marriage with him.

Eventually, Alfred sued Eugenie for her crimes against him. She asserted that he had urged her to stock up on necessities with wartime shortages and price hikes on the horizon. She claimed that he hit the children with a long stick at the dinner table if they misbehaved, and that she had become a nervous wreck because of his treatment of the family.  He countered that she was so obsessed with trimming down to return to a life in show business, that her extreme dieting, consuming of various weight loss substances, and her stress over her body were to blame for her nervous condition.

The case was the first to raise the question, "Who's money is it? HIS or THEIRS?" The case was used as support for countless others in which wives spent their husbands money without the husband's consent.  When it came time for a divorce, Eugenie refused, not wanting to give up the large allowance of money she was currently receiving in their separation.  Eventually, in 1944, Alfred found a court in Florida which agreed to grant the divorce without Eugenie's consent.  The Lotus Pond home was sold as a part of the divorce proceedings.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Major League Fishing Comes to Alpena, Presque Isle

Twenty four world class anglers, a large production crew, and even Sasquatch himself visited Alpena from August 26 - 31 to film the 2014 General Tire Summit Cup, along with new "Messin' with Sasquatch" commercials for Jack Link's beef jerky.  Jack Link's is the sponsor of Major League Fishing, an effort by the Outdoor Channel to pit the best bass fisherman against one another on various bodies of water across the country. Major League Fishing, much like the World Series of Poker, is designed to bring the sport to the masses and increase public interest.

The tournament in Alpena marked both the first time the anglers did not know where they would be fishing and also the first time the fishing was spread among three different bodies of water.  The three locations were not revealed publicly, but we do know Presque Isle's very own Grand Lake was one of them.  The anglers launched their flashy boats from the Presque Isle Harbor Association Beach House, causing quite a stir in our quiet community.

Also spotted around Presque Isle was Sasquatch, the well loved mascot of Jack Link's beef jerky, known for his humorous commercials.  He visited the Presque Isle Lighthouses, took pictures with staff and patrons at the Portage General Store and traveled aboard the boat of local charter captain Ed Retherford of Trout Scout V Sport Fishing Charters with film crew in tow.

All of the fishermen and production crew, even the Major League Fishing Commissioner himself had nothing but great things to say about our community, our people, and most of all our fishing.  Commissioner Don Rucks had the following to say:

"The community of Alpena welcomed us in a truly special way. We had a tremendous week-plus in the region, but the highlight was the fishing, which was nothing short of amazing."

"I think viewers will be blown away when they see what our Major League Fishing anglers delivered in Alpena. I'm still shaking my head at some of the performances we saw."

Rucks also asserts that the event will be "the best show we've put on air."

The 2014 General Tire Summit Cup will begin airing on the Outdoor Channel in January 2014.  The series will feature not only the fishing but highlights of our beautiful area.  Also, be on the lookout for new commercials featuring the Jack Link's Sasquatch, filmed right here in our very own backyard!

Local residents will certainly be tuning in beaming with pride, and we are excited to see what happens when our area, a hidden gem, is revealed to millions!

“I think viewers will be blown away when they see what our Major League Fishing anglers delivered in Alpena. I’m still shaking my head at some of the performances we saw,” Rucks said.
“The community of Alpena welcomed us in a truly special way. We had a tremendous week-plus in the region, but the highlight was the fishing, which was nothing short of amazing.”
- See more at: http://www.majorleaguefishing.com/news_details.aspx?id=2164#sthash.S6TY2n2p.dpuf

“The community of Alpena welcomed us in a truly special way. We had a tremendous week-plus in the region, but the highlight was the fishing, which was nothing short of amazing.” - See more at: http://www.majorleaguefishing.com/news_details.aspx?id=2164#sthash.S6TY2n2p.dpuf
“I think viewers will be blown away when they see what our Major League Fishing anglers delivered in Alpena. I’m still shaking my head at some of the performances we saw,” Rucks said.
“The community of Alpena welcomed us in a truly special way. We had a tremendous week-plus in the region, but the highlight was the fishing, which was nothing short of amazing.”
- See more at: http://www.majorleaguefishing.com/news_details.aspx?id=2164#sthash.S6TY2n2p.dpuf

Thursday, June 6, 2013

History of Juniper Lodge

We are so excited to have recently listed the "Juniper Lodge," the grand summer home of Bliss Stebbins, successful Lansing milliner (hat maker) and first owner of the Grand Lake Hotel.

Bliss Stebbins was born on April 4, 1865 in Lansing, the son of Courtland Bliss Stebbins, editor of the Lansing Republican and later a deputy superintendent of public instruction.  The family was very wealthy and well known in the social circles of the day. In fact, Courtland had been appointed a "special agent" of the Post Office Department by President Millard Fillmore in 1849 after being the first newspaper editor in the country to recommend him for President.

The Stebbins family lived in a grand home in the shadow of the Capitol building and Bliss' brother Arthur C. Stebbins went on to be one of the original stockholders of the Olds Motor Vehicle Company, himself making the motion at a stockholder meeting that "the manager be authorized to build one (horseless) carriage in as nearly perfect manner as possible and complete it at the earliest possible moment." Thus, the very first Oldsmobile, which is now housed at the Smithsonian, came into being.

One of the first five Oldsmobiles, produced before 1897

With the Stebbins family well known among other wealthy Lansing residents, Bliss found a niche for himself as a milliner, custom making the lavish, ostentatious hats of the day for the Lansing elite. You can visit the "A Stroll Downtown" exhibit at the Michigan Historical Museum in Lansing to view some of Bliss' intricate creations as you walk past the "shop windows" of Lansing's downtown as they would have appeared in 1897.

In 1881, Bliss' family built their first cottage on Grand Lake, probably on Birch Hill.  Years later, in 1912, Bliss and his first wife Harriet "Hattie" Card Stebbins, whom he married in 1892, built the Grand Lake Hotel.  In 1914 the 5 bed 2 bath Juniper Lodge was constructed across the street from the hotel for Bliss and his family to spend their summers in.  

Bliss and Hattie Stebbins (above the sign) and family members in front of the Grand Lake Hotel
Photo from the collection of Malcolm Stebbins

Juniper Lodge was constructed with many unique features such as fieldstone fireplaces in both the living room and the three seasons porch, tiny little cabinets and cubbies in the walls of most of the rooms for keeping trinkets, a guest bedroom above the porch with three walls of beautiful thick wavy glass windows, and a large bath house in the rear of the home.  

Bliss' Miami beach home via idx.kevintomlinson.com
Bliss and Harriet were very successful in the operation of the Grand Lake Hotel, and Bliss was referred to as "One of Michigan's widely known hotel men." in 1929, as many industrious midwesterners did at the time, Bliss had a palatial Mediterranean style estate built in Miami Beach, Florida, one of the first prestigious homes built on North Bay Drive. The home sold in 2011 for nearly $1.5m and is being considered for addition to the National Register of Historic Places due to its architectural significance. You can see more photos of this exquisite home here

Image of pool via idx.kevintomlinson.com

Image of library via idx.kevintomlinson.com

 the  Sadly, Bliss' wife Harriet died in June of 1933.  Although the couple never had children, they traveled the world together, ran the hotel together, and spent 41 happy years together.
Harriet "Hattie" Card Stebbins
from the collection of Malcolm Stebbins
Actress Kim Hunter

A few year later, Bliss married Grace Cole, mother of Janet Cole aka Kim Hunter (an actress known for her performances opposite Marlon Brando in A Streetcar named Desire and as Zira in Planet of the Apes.) Kim later wrote an autobiographical cookbook called "Loose in the Kitchen," which includes photographs of the Grand Lake Hotel, a place where she had spent a few summers, and was very fond of.

Grace Cole Stebbins and Bliss Stebbins
Photo from the collection of Malcolm Stebbins

After a short illness, Bliss Stebbins died in March of 1936.  Some time later the Grand Lake Hotel and Juniper Lodge changed hands.  The home has been taken care of well by its subsequent owners, with many improvements made by its current owner, who was careful to preserve the home's character and integrity.  Juniper Lodge is well known and admired by local residents and is a true treasure of the community.  If you'd like to be the next owner of this beautiful home, call Katie at (989)595-2970 to arrange a showing.  You can view a slideshow with all pictures here or find more information on our website. Thanks for reading! 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Spring is here and summer is near!

Gorgeous Grand Lake sunset on May 8

After a long, chilly winter, it's finally spring! The daffodils are in bloom, the birds are chirping, and the warm sun is shining.  This time of year the community blooms as well, with seasonal residents returning and visitors starting to arrive to explore our beautiful area. 

This is the time of year the real estate market also starts booming, though we experienced unusually high levels of activity throughout the winter and especially during early spring.  Soon our office will be filled with multiple groups of lookers wanting to check out our properties! Grand Lake continues to be the hottest market, though residential homes in Presque Isle Harbor Association and on Lake Esau are not far behind.  We are also seeing vacant waterfront start to sell again, and the zoning administrator is receiving requests for building permits frequently.  This is all good news for Presque Isle! 

We are excited for the events and activities that signal the start of summer and the hectic, though very satisfying busy real estate season that is soon to follow! 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Presque Isle Harbor Association Map

If you are curious about the locations of the amenities of Presque Isle Harbor Association, check out this new map!  Lots are still selling for under $1,000, even as low as $500.  There are several affordable homes available as well, even some on the water. Give us a call at (989)595-2970 for more info!

View Presque Isle Harbor Association in a larger map

Thursday, February 28, 2013

2013 Newsletter is Here!

The 2013 Lakeshore Realty newsletter is arriving in 3000 mailboxes this week!  In case you don't receive one, here's the digital edition.  Inside, you'll find valuable information about 2012 sales data, a calendar of events, news about our local state parks, and much more!  Please call us at (989)595-2970 and we'd be happy to mail you a copy or answer any questions you may have.

Click on the following link to view all 4 pages of the newsletter.  You can hover over the first image and click the arrow to go fullscreen. Enjoy!

2013 Lakeshore Realty Newsletter

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

2012 Real Estate Recap

Okay, we know most of you visit our blog to find fun events, see pictures of the area, and feel a little more connected to Presque Isle when you're away, but we thought you might want to know a little about how the real estate market fared in 2012.

Number of homes sold in Presque Isle in 2012: 45
Low price: $5,192
High price: $395,000
Average price: $138,797.60
Total: $6,245,892

Number of homes sold on Grand Lake: 20
Low price: $80,000
High price: $385,000

Number of homes sold on Long Lake: 20
Low price: $50,000
High price: $395,000

Number of homes sold on Lake Huron: 2
Low price: $285,000
High price: $340,000

Number of homes sold in Presque Isle Harbor Association:  12
Low price: $5,192
High price: $100,000

Number of PIHA vacant lots sold: 19
Low price: $500
High price: $5,300

Number of Grand Lake lots sold: 5
Low price: $8,000
High price: $90,000

Number of Lake Huron lots sold: 2
Low price: $45,000
High price: $52,000

Overall, it was a great year (besides the low prices!) Motivated buyers snapped up much of the inventory on Grand Lake and in Presque Isle Harbor Association, with Lake Esau and Lake Huron still lagging behind a bit.  After 3 or 4 years with next to no vacant waterfront lots selling, it was nice to see some activity there again as well.  With vacant lots in the Association going for historic lows, it's no surprise the number of sales jumped from 7 in 2011 to 20 in 2012, and buyers are already contacting our office hoping to take advantage of the continued low prices in 2013.

We are hoping for a slight uptick in prices on Grand Lake this year, and prices leveling off on forest homes within the Association as long as demand continues to increase and interest rates remain low.  If the number of prospective buyers contacting our office this early in the year is any indicator, we should expect another very busy year in the real estate world!