Case Studies

Historic Restoration - The Douglas House

It is with great excitement that we announce the Douglas House, located in Harbor Springs, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2015!

The Douglas House is a four-story, bright white, wood and glass modern home designed by influential American architect, Richard Meier, and built in 1973 for the Douglas family from Grand Rapids. The family sought out Meier in hopes of building their own version of the iconic Smith House in Connecticut. This Northern Michigan residence, set along the famed Tunnel of Trees, dramatically rests on a steep slope on the shore of Lake Michigan. The overall form of the Douglas House is that of a rectangle set on end into the side of a steep slope. The foundation is made up of a series of telephone pole-like pilings hammered into the earth and in signature Meier style, all exterior and interior walls are white.

McBride Construction worked with the current owners, Michael McCarthy and Marcia Meyers for years to repair and preserve the entire structure. Due to the historic nature of the home and the owners' wishes, all repairs were made in a fashion that maintained the original design. This project required creative ingenuity and at times much resilience to overcome unique challenges.

The list of recent updates includes;

  • Repairing and/or replacing a large portion of the 20+ ft. vertical exposed plywood cladding on the foundation on the lake side of the house. The foundation is on a steep hillside 90 to 100 ft. below the street and parking level. It is unique in that it is constructed on vertical telephone poles driven into the side of the steep hill. This project created numerous challenges because of the very limited access and the fact that many portions of the foundation have sharp radius corners.
  • Ninety percent of the western face of the house is glass. When the sun is in the right position, a tremendous amount of excess heat can build up inside the residence. The remodeling team, with input from the owners, designed and installed a new exhaust fan system to remove the excess heat. The fan, which McBride is certified to install, is by Tamarack Technologies, Inc. and includes the latest in energy-saving features. This project was completed without modifying the look or major structural elements in any way.
  • Together with Mike’s Glass, McBride Construction upgraded the existing steel windows with a new powder coated finish and Low-E high performance glass.
  • The McBride team worked with Mike McCarthy to design and install new rain caps on the existing chimneys. Again, this project did not change the look of the structure, but did significantly reduce the amount of water infiltrating the residence. This project was one of the most difficult to complete because the chimneys are free standing 40 ft. tall with no way to safely access the tops to install the rain caps. Visually, the chimneys appear significantly higher as you look out over Lake Michigan hundreds of feet below.
  • The 40 ft. bridge from the drive to the house was rebuilt. This bridge was designed and constructed with high-tech materials and visually matches the original bridge in all details. This bridge not only provides access to the residence, it has to be able to move with the residence during seasonal storms, which can be fierce.

Due to the meticulous nature of the remodeling projects that were completed, the Douglas House was considered for early placement on the National Register of Historic Places. We are so pleased that the work has resulted in such an honor!

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