About seven years ago, we discovered St. Joe, Michigan on our way to see family in Detroit, my hometown. We stumbled across the adorable town and fell in love with the historic brick lined streets, quaint shops and “top ten family beach” known as Silver Beach. We ended up purchasing a duplex at 823 Lions Park Drive and began renovating the two unit house with views of Lake Michigan. After almost a year of renovations and plenty of new gray hairs, we named the house “The Sand Rabbit” after learning it’s what people who lived below the bluff where once-upon-a time called.
One day we got a call from a young man looking for an off-season rental. When we learned he was moving because the house where he was living was being sold, we found our second house on State Street. Many stately, large historic homes can be found on the brick lined State street, but this house was more modest. After painting the house yellow we decided it would be apropos to name the house “The Sunflower.” We renovated this adorable cottage and began renting it just months later. Before we knew it we were in the vacation rental business!
As a former social worker, I had a lot to learn about the business, but I loved the creative aspect of turning a distressed property into a home. I also realized that life had gotten too busy and I wanted to provide a respite where people could go and sip lemonade on the front porch, pull out the Uncle Jib’s harmonica, play a mean game of checkers or curl up with that nearly over-due library book. I understand everyone needs a little more down time to simply “be” and hang out with loved ones. I wanted to supply my guests with the perfect space for this to unfold.
This creative spirit (and getting to know the good contractors!) came in handy when we learned about another house for sale in the Silver Beach Neighborhood. Walking through this very distressed property, I could see all the potential. What I loved about Emma’s (named after our wonderful daughter) was the adventurous back yard. It had the feeling of the North-woods, but was only seven houses away from the beach! Once again, we rolled up our sleeves and got to work. We tore down the garage and even had telephone wires moved to make drive way functional. We had the floors hand-painted to preserve the feel of the farmhouse and a new front porch built and a half bath installed.
After buying the house in April and opening in June of 2008, we were ready for a long nap! We thought we were done, however, one day while I was walking downtown, I saw the “for sale” sign at the McNeil House. The magnificent, handsome house, with the awesome front porch, had just gone on the market. I ended up calling the listing agent and walk through the house that same day. We put an offer on the house that day. It was love at first sight and the best part was it needed very few repairs! We did, install central air and did some concrete work, but that was a cake walk compared to the other houses. The fun began when I got to decorate the house which included transporting my mother’s piano from Paw Paw, Mi to St. Joe.
In addition to our properties in St. Joe, we have another house in Mt. Dora, Florida, (north of Orlando). We discovered this charming town after my dad moved to a neighboring community. We also rent out this sweet 3/2 house (www.homeaway.com/329669).
When I’m not working, (or taking a nap!), I’m playing ball with our chocolate lab, Hershey, or driving my teen age daughter around. Like you, we are busy doing our best juggling the demands of life. We understand how important (and necessary) a vacation is and will do our best to assist you in helping make your get-a-way a time you won’t forget!
If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at 1-269-369-1003 or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a reply here. We love hearing from you!
Enjoy your visit! We hope to see you soon!