and our dear friend,
of boring you with family pictures, below
are the notes
from the program made to the White Lake Area Historical Society's Annual Meeting held at the Cocoa
Cottage Bed and Breakfast on September 18th, 2003 and a few of the
images we shared with members on that evening.
Cocoa Cottage was one of the first
recipients of the
White Lake Area Historical Society's
2004 Award for Preserving & Improving the Historical Resources of
the White Lake Area.
The style of our home is an
Arts and Crafts Bungalow. The Arts and Crafts movement started in Great
Britain around 1890 and was in reaction to the highly decorated
Victorian style and the industrial revolution. The movement was
primarily led by John Ruskin and William Morris.
lines, natural colors, fabrics and materials are hallmarks of this
period. Beauty was inherent in the material used and the craftsmanship of
The Arts and Crafts
movement was not just a physical style, but also a philosophy of living.
Simplicity was key. Co-op
gardens, metal-smiths, potters and woodworkers all shared their craft.
The Arts and Crafts
movement evolved into Mission style which evolved into Prairie Style,
which was Frank Lloyd Wrights milieu. Although closely related, these
styles have unique differences. The Arts & Crafts period returns
us to a time of simplicity, authenticity, and enduring style.
Ownership History of 223
S. Mears Avenue Whitehall, MI 49461
1911-1956 Hardy A. and
Madge (nee: Perkins) Esterdahl
1956-1977 John and Beatrice
1977- October 1986 Ann C.
Rudholm (nee: Chris Ann Lipka)
October 1986-September 1991
Michael E. (Mike) and Ruth Benovic
Larry Robertson and Lisa Tallarico (husband and wife).
What We Have
Built by Hardy
A. and Madge Esterdahl circa 1912.
No abstract, plans
few historical documents exist for this property. We estimate our home
was built circa 1912 because of the extensive research on the history of the
property discovered by Larry Robertson and Bob Hubbard. They have discovered the
The Polk directory of 1908
shows Charles Esterdahl, a dyer, (probably at the Whitehall Leather
Factory) residence at Obell Street near Johnson. Hardy A. Esterdahl, bookkeeper, (At
the State Bank of Whitehall) boards with Charles Esterdahl. (We believe
Charles was Hardy's father.)
October 27th, 1910, The
County Clerks Registry of Marriages at the Hackley Library shows Hardy
A. Esterdahl, 25 years old, of Whitehall married Madge Perkins, 20 years
old of Spring Lake. (Rumor has it that he "married money") Witnesses from
Montague were Arved and Ester Nelson. Minister was Archibald Hadden.
December 1911, The Register
of Deeds shows Hardy and Madge Esterdahl purchased the property from
Maude E. Carlton, et al. (Probably from her
we found no formal documentation as to the date this house was built,
our best detective work points to 1912. Since the deed to the property
changed hands in December of 1911, it is not feasible that construction
began in the month of December in a Michigan winter.
1911 Almanac in the walls during renovation, and we assume it was placed
there to commemorate the date they purchased the property, not the date
the home was built. Later issues of Polk directories do not indicate
Hardy living with his father, but also do not indicate 223 S. Mears as
Our research of ancestry
records (Access Genealogy) indicates that they had one child, a daughter
born in 1913. In discussions with Edna K. Blomdahl, she remembered the
Esterdahls as having two children. A daughter, Elaine who was the same
age as Edna's sister, was born in 1913. Edna also remembered a son. Other comments were made
implying that no one understood why they built "such a big house for
such a small family".
we discovered that Hardy and Madge did have a son, Maxon. Max, as he was known
to friends, graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in
Chemistry. Unfortunately, after a long an exhaustive search for Max, we were told that Max passed away in 2002, just
we discovered he was retired in Florida.
1956 Hardy and Madge
Esterdahl moved to Florida after selling to John and Beatrice Fielstra.
1958 Hardy A. Esterdahl
died in Florida.
We speculate that at this time Madge left Florida and
went to live with one of their children in Fairfax, VA, which is where a
death certificate was issued in October1990. We have not been able to
locate the daughter, Elaine. We assume she was married and took her
husbands name, and thus fell out of public records.
Fielstra's lived in
the home with their 6 children (Jack, Mary Lou, Lois, and ?) until
1977. John Fielstra owned the local tavern, which is now Corsi¹s Pub.
We have had
the honor of showing our home to Jack Fielstra two times during our
renovations. Once, at the very beginning and again just last year, Mary
Lou and her daughter have also stopped by for a tour and shared several
stories of Mom and grandma, especially of her garden and Lisa's similar
November 28, 1977 John and
Beatrice Fielstra sold to Ann C. Rudholm, a single woman. Ann (Chris Ann
as she was called) had "The Homestead Gallery" a gift shop in the
front half of the house that featured many hand made items, including
macramé plant hangers, clocks and tables made from tree slices and
photography by Brad J. Bogart. Many thanks to Bob Bartlett who, in
August of 2003, provided us an original copy of Chris's brochure that
hung in his hardware store formerly at 103 E. Colby in Whitehall, where
she also worked.
October 1986 Ann C. Rudholm
sold to Michael E. (Mike) and Ruth Benovic.
They lived there with their
three children, Jason, Lori and Lisa.
August 1991 Michael E.
(Mike) and Ruth Benovic sold to Larry Robertson and Lisa
Tallarico-Robertson, of Kansas City Missouri.
restoration process begins...
July1993 Larry and Lisa
took residence in Whitehall and began the 10-year restoration of the
We did (and are still
doing) extensive research on the design, architecture and philosophies
of the Arts and Crafts movement. Since no original plans were available,
and the house had been "modified" several times, many of the
original details were gone. The house has been remodeled and redecorated
more than once, with the interior spaces suffering more than the
exterior. With the exception of non-period décor and neglect, the
principle rooms, living, dining, parlor and front porch appear to be
original to when the house was built. Most of the stained and leaded
glass is still intact and the fireplace has been fully restored.
Our goal was to bring the
house back to its original splendor, to restore it.
Since we have no original
plans or even photographs, all we had to work with was our extensive
research of the Arts and Crafts period. The corrections we made to the
house were done to honor the Arts and Crafts era.
The original molding and
trim that had been lost or damaged beyond restoration was replaced with
new trim, made of the same material, milled to the same dimensions, and
finished as close to the same manner as current materials allowed.
In the process of our
restoration, we discovered parts of shipping crates and a shipping label
from the Chicago Milworks Company of Chicago, Illinois.
Addressed to H. A.
Esterdahl, Whitehall, Mich. There are order and invoice numbers, but
unfortunately no date.
The push button light
switches and brass cover plates throughout the house are the same as
when originally built.
The new kitchen cupboards
were made using materials salvaged from the restoration, including the
interesting old glass in the cabinet fronts.
The antique Arts and Crafts
main entry doors came from an antique shop in Muskegon.
The bathrooms were restored
in the ³sanitary bathroom² style, popular during this era. All white,
with subway tile on the walls and 2' hexagon tile floors.
The lighting is a
combination of antique fixtures and reproductions.
The colors chosen are all
colors naturally found in nature, and true to the Arts and Crafts
The blending of nature,
indoors and out, is a cornerstone of the Arts and Crafts philosophy. The
landscape restoration included saving the foundation plantings, many
bulbs and the transformation of a gravel parking area into a pergola
enclosed garden room; which is very typical of this era.
We have done about 70-80%
of the work ourselves, from demolition to design and finish work to
fund-raising. We hired local professional contractors to replace all the
electrical, plumbing and heating systems.
While restoring our home,
issues such as originality and the quality of materials used became much
more important to us than the time schedule. Besides, we were doing our
civic duty by providing free entertainment to our small town for 10
The Cocoa Cottage
Bed and Breakfast Opens!
The privilege of owning an old house it that you are never done!