A log cabin in wooded Allegan County costs nearly $2 million
Greg Pearson brought his love of the outdoors, target shooting and log cabins to southwest Michigan when he built a custom home on 72 acres that he is now selling.
Originally from the Upper Peninsula and a member of Sault Ste. Mary Tribe of the Chippewa Indians, Pearson is the director of Tenesis Environmental Services, based in Chicago.
He bought a rural, wooded plot of land in Gang Township near Vineville in 2018 for $230,400, according to Allegan County property records. He then embarked on what would be his sixth home building project to create this modern 3,700 square foot log cabin.
At the time of purchasing the property, Pearson and his wife were primary residents of Chicago, where they raised their family. But their children were attending Michigan State University, so they wanted a closer but remote location for family gatherings.
Since their children have now graduated from college and moved out of Michigan, the Pearson family is taking risks and moving to Naples, Florida.
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Reluctantly, they are preparing to part with their beautiful three-bedroom, three-bathroom log home after listing it for sale. $1,977,000 on August 21.
Almost one of its kind
Although not a builder by trade, Pearson served as general contractor for this house, leasing the work in phases to different subcontractors for separate parts of the process while ensuring a unified vision.
“I find the building process very interesting, it’s a lot of fun,” he said. “It’s rewarding when it’s all over. It’s exhausting at the same time, but…the key is to enjoy it.”
Of the homes he built, this is Pearson’s second log cabin. The first was designed by Hiawatha Log Homes and was located in Gould City, in UP’s Mackinac County, where his maternal grandmother was born and where he still has family ties. The Pearson family has since sold that cabin.
To save time and money—and for sentimental reasons—Pearson used the blueprints of the first log house to create this one, but increased the size and made some other modifications.
“(The Gold City cabin) had a very similar footprint, all hardwoods and pretty much the same,” Pearson said.
The list price chosen for this home was not based on comparable sales elsewhere, since the home is different from every other home except its twin in UP, said sellers’ agent Brenden Deviser with Five Star Real Estate Lakeshore in Holland.
Instead, they set the price based on the value of the space and the costs of labor and materials.
In fact, tHis house is not like the other log cabins on the market. First, it’s larger, two stories and 3,700 square feet, with a huge second-floor deck, a covered porch overlooking the courtyard, and a quarter-mile-long paved driveway.
Second, it has a three-stall attached garage that is completely finished as a party space, with a large loft with bed and living area, attractive clapboard-style walls and sparkling composite floors.
Guns and poses
The property includes spacious accommodations for one of Pearson’s favorite hobbies: target shooting. Outside the garage is a room-sized gun safe, and about an eighth-mile walk from the house on its property is a shooting range next to the North Branch of the Black River.
“I’m not a hunter, just a shooter,” he said.
But Pearson loves the look and grace of high-quality taxidermy, so he used it liberally in his log home decor, where he displays the animals in different poses of action.
As an enrolled tribal member, Pearson is among the few people with the right to own stuffed bald eagles — and he has two of them.
He also has a stuffed moose head wall mount and a life-sized stuffed teddy bear, as well as a few animal sculptures and a pair of small stuffed porcupines.
“A guy I knew in UP accidentally discovered a nest of porcupines,” Pearson said. “He was a puppy at the time and didn’t know what to do, so he started off by what he thought was playing with them, but he was punching them with his teeth. So the man had to put them all aside. He stuffed them, then made different arrangements. In fact, the taxidermist who taxidermyed his porcupine also taxidermyed my vulture in Escanaba.
Pearson said he is interested in selling the home furnished, but that will be negotiated at an additional cost to the buyer.
From the garage to the interior of the house it features clean lines and plenty of space.
“Every garage I’ve had has been pretty big, and I don’t like to see any (clutter), … so I’m making more cabinets to make sure nothing is (visible),” he said.
Pearson said his “garage obsession” began in Illinois, where he jumped on the “garage apartment” trend started by a developer friend. They are completely weatherproof buildings with parking but also space for parties: heating, air conditioning, a mezzanine for the living area with TVs and a wet bar, among other features.
He had been building a garage apartment at his home in Illinois while supervising the construction of this log cabin in Michigan, so he brainstormed some design ideas.
“When my kids came back from Michigan, they brought friends with them, and they would hang out there so they wouldn’t destroy the house,” he said.
A log home buyer can add a bathroom to the mezzanine to make the garage apartment a full apartment, Pearson said.
Wood and nature galore
The house — which is 100% custom finished — is filled with expensive woods imported from the North, including walnut floors from northern Wisconsin and logs from Munising in the UP.
There is a solid wood bunk bed set made by a carpenter in Manistique, and a cherry table that is part of his private collection and will not be sold with the house.
From the specially ordered forest silhouette lighting fixtures to the tabletops, cabinets, doors, lamps and backsplashes, all design elements evoke a harmonious feeling of being in nature even while indoors.
Pearson chose a floor plan that would enhance this feeling of immersion by placing the main living room, kitchen, guest room and master suite on the second floor, about 12 feet off the ground.
“The goal was to give you the feeling of being in the middle of the forest, like you were in a tree fort,” he said.
The ceiling also has several skylights for viewing and for additional lighting.
The lower level has another bedroom, a family room with a wet bar, and flows to the ground floor screened porch via sliding doors.
Pearson said he sprayed all the wood in the house against mosquitoes, so screens on the porch aren’t absolutely necessary, but they’re nice to have.
“In a really good rainstorm, it’s perfect to just sit there and enjoy the rain,” he said.
A rare find for a private buyer
DeVisser, the broker, said it will be an “interesting process” to see who makes offers, as he estimates 20 or fewer buyers at this price point are looking for log homes.
It could be someone who has been patiently waiting for the cabin but never found what they wanted. Or someone for whom money is no object, space, expensive hardwoods, remoteness – it all adds to the charm.
“The first question we asked the first two people (the broker), and I think it was the only question, pretty much, was, ‘Hey, can we add to this?’ Because the buyers were looking for $6 million homes,” he added. “Someone from “This way, where they come and money is just a tool and something you use, $2 million is nothing to them.”
“It’s about either finding a buyer who doesn’t really care, they’ll just do it because it’s what they want, or they may stay (in the market) for a little while if you have to try to be pickier.” to buyers in a certain price range.
Pearson added that he suspects there are wealthy residents in Illinois who want to escape the city and find peace in nature. The Fennville area, just 2 1/2 hours outside of Chicago, could be just the ticket, he said.
It could also be a decline for creative types, he said.
“I have a friend in the celebrity world who said a lot of his friends would buy songwriters… just to come here and enjoy the solitude and get their creative juices flowing,” he said. “Who do you know?”
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