Back to Blog

Thatched Roof House

Mushroom House Tour, Evening walking tour!

THATCHED ROOF HOUSE 2017

The Thatched Roof House

I will be blogging about each one of Earl Young’s houses separately as each one is so unique and so interesting!  If you need a background on the architect Earl Young…please visit my previous post aptly named “The Evolution of Earl Young.”

 

The Thatched Roof House is the most visited and most photographed house in all of Charlevoix, and it’s no secret why?!  When you can see an actual “Thatched Roof” in person and up close….its like nothing you have ever experienced.  The craftsmanship and artistry is so breathtaking, that pictures do not do justice and therefor…people flock to catch a glimpse of this architectural wonder.

Unfortunately, the house did not start out this way, as many people think.  I truly believe Earl Young would have appreciated the true thatched roof it has now because it is is always something he wanted to achieve.  The fact of the matter is that he had nothing to do with the new design and construction….which is a surprise to many!

In 1918, this was in fact Earl Young’s very first house he ever created and the first attempt at making his dream come true.  Fresh out of the University of Michigan School of Architecture, he quit after a year due to the fact they were concentrating on Victorian architecture. That style of design was something he wanted nothing to do with and became so frustrated, along with the fact he was homesick for his beloved Charlevoix, that he returned home shortly after dropping out.  Although some think he could have used the extra three years to enhance his knowledge of how to actually do a blueprint and correctly design a house…others would argue that his simplistic and self taught nature is what made him become the man he was, and his rudimentary designs may have suffered had he stayed.

That being said…when construction began on this masterpiece….even Earl realized he might be in over his head and hired a certified architect to help him with design and blueprints.  This is the one and only house out of 28 that a blueprint was actually created and they still hang in the stairwell to this day.  Earl Young used to actually take a stick and draw his designs in the dirt on the houses that followed….imagine being on the construction team for those jobs?

Since he was listening to the other designer and architect…..parts of this house were NOT what Earl young wanted and intended, and to be perfectly blunt…he ended up hating this house (look at before picture below.)  Artists are notorious for being modest, but you can clearly see that this design and aura is nothing like you would expect from Earl Young after seeing his other designs.  One thing in particular that he didn’t like was the fact he considered it too “Arts and Crafts” in style…..also….he considered it much too large.  It’s also much boxier and straight edged than his other houses and you don’t get the feeling of nature and fantasy like you do from his other designs.

Earl lived here for many years with his family until 1947 when his house next door was designed and built.  He and his family lived there until he passed away in 1975.

BEFORE 2015 RENOVATIONS

DURING 2015 RENOVATIONS

 

The current design of this house obviously boasts a tremendously different design and most importantly…a true thatched roof. (See picture above)

After Earl moved out….people knew he didn’t like this house and concluded if he didn’t like it…..why should they?  So the house was bought and sold numerous times over the years but no one ever put any “love” into the house and it was becoming almost uninhabitable and threatening demolition.  As luck would have it…in 2014….a South African architect named Mike Seitz came to visit Charlevoix with his wife whose parents resided in town.  To show him around, they took him by the Mushroom Houses of course and it was instant love at first sight!  By the time they were due to leave Charlevoix, the house was sold.   He re-designed the changes he would make on the plane ride back to Texas…..quick as that!!

Seitz is said to have been influenced by the early grass huts from China….along with the natural elements that Earl Young was known for creating.  Seitz managed to re-create the visual effect he imagined that Earl Young intended and kept in mind.  Earl had always wanted to create a thatch roof and actually tried one time…only to have it fail miserably.  Seitz hired an Irish architect who single-handedly attached the thatching and its constructed from “reeds” brought in from the Netherlands…..truly unbelievable.

The end result is a house so magnificent in both its inner and outer beauty and qualities….its no doubt that people come from near and far to see this in person.  Unfortunately….many locals and historians believe that Seitz ruined the ‘integrity” of the house by destroying its original design and character.  I do not agree with this theory for three reasons:

  1. Earl young himself virtually despised this house.
  2. Earl Young always wanted to achieve construction of a true thatched roof.
  3. This house was in complete disarray and someone was going to have to put millions to get it back in shape….the true integrity was bound to be changed regardless……Seitz saved this house from certain demolishin.

Unfortunately, Seitz and his wife separated and the house is on the market through a local real estate agency.  In the meantime, it is available for rent on VRBO along with the carriage house in back and “Applecore Cottage” on the north side of town.

As always….thanks for reading and thanks for the support and remember to hear it all….just take the tour!!!

GEM CAR TOUR