Heirloom Home

Jackye Lanham reclaims the grandeur of a restored Late Victorian shingle house on the shores of Lake Michigan

When Christopher Reeve starred in Somewhere in Time, it offered a glimpse into the previous century when people escaped hot summers in the city for a more genteel lifestyle by the water. Set in 1912 and filmed at the famed Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, the film transported viewers to the shores of Lake Michigan where generations of families gathered for relaxed but refined vacations.

In 2012, nationally renowned designer Jackye Lanham ventured to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to see the magnificent home (which won a Philip Trammell Shutze award for renovation in 2016) her Atlanta-based clients had purchased. Upon arrival, she felt transported in time. “Harbor Springs is a small, late 19th-century town on Lake Michigan where there’s tremendous respect for the ritual of generations of families gathering in summer, and where time moves slower,” says Lanham. The Point is only reachable by boat, bicycle or horse-drawn carriage—a reminder that civility and tradition are more valued than convenience in Harbor Springs. 

 The owners both grew up spending summers on the shores of Harbor Springs with their families, so recreating that experience to share with their children and grandchildren was paramount. When they purchased an original 19th-century home, they asked Lanham to renovate and design the 12-bedroom, four-story dwelling.

Relocating the kitchen, updating all of the plumbing and wiring, raising the ceilings, winterizing the home and adding an additional porch were among the many renovations Lanham undertook. However, Lanham went even further in her efforts: All of the original fixtures, fittings and hardware were replated; the original porcelain and cast-iron sinks were retained; and the original 1920s 12-foot-wide refrigerator was refurbished. “The house took several years to renovate and restore because of the seasonal logistics as well as our commitment to use as much from the original home as possible,” says Lanham. 

The designer remained authentic to period details at every opportunity. “In the early 20th century, the trains would arrive from Grand Rapids, Michigan, loaded with furniture, and residents would meet the train to purchase goods,” says Lanham. “Those pieces were so well-made that we decided to update the home’s original furnishings and incorporate them into the new design.” In her signature style and with great panache, Lanham painted the pieces white and dressed them in linens and cottons befitting of summer holidays.

While this period home appears to be a grand dame on the exterior, on the interior she’s an authentic Victorian shingle house that remains a beloved family home.

INTERIOR DESIGN Jackye Lanham, Jacquelynne P. Lanham Designs, Inc., (404) 364-0472; jackyelanham.com