Michigan Masonry Society
The Stone Matches
Castle Farms, Charlevoix
ARCHITECT AZD Associates, Bloomfield Hills
GENERAL CONTRACTOR Lazer Construction, Petoskey
MASONRY MATERIALS St. Marys Cement
THE STONE MATCHES
Linda and Richard Mueller purchased Castle Farms with visions of majestic restoration and a desire to restore the facility as a historic banquet, exposition and community center. Prior to the initial design, historic photos and architectural plans were studied in conjunction with on-site observation of existing conditions. Old photos revealed that the majority of the original building had deteriorated with exception of masonry walls.
The original complex, built by Albert Loeb, circa 1918, used local stone in 90% of the construction. It was formerly utilized as an agricultural research and development facility for the newly formed Sears Roebuck Company of which Loeb was president. The Loeb Farm Complex had been abandoned for 15 years and was in the advanced stages of disrepair when AZD Associates was commissioned for restoration design in 2001.
Transformation of the early 1900 livestock facility to a new 5000 person complex required compliance with Michigan Historic Registry guidelines. No restoration effort was as critical as the replication and restoration of the original stonework. It was a challenge to locate and attain tons of the local stone. Natural granite fieldstone harvested from the site matched that originally used on the interior and exterior of the historic building. Once acquired, the stone was utilized as double-wythe structural masonry, corresponding with original walls flawlessly. Sophisticated mechanical systems, fire suppression systems, elevators, circulation, electrical and structural systems, together with numerous structural masonry walls were installed.
After over 1000 hours of design and engineering work, this extraordinary masonry facility was restored to its original detail and location of walls while maintaining its initial integrity. Stone is a feature both inside and out. Today, the complex is fully functional and reestablished as one of the most unique, old world and romantic settings in northern Michigan.