Ah, summer vacation! A time to relax on the beach, sip cool drinks… and check out some great arts & crafts homes.
And where would be better to partake of these summer delights than Grand Rapids, Michigan?
Pasadena, you say?
The opportunity to visit friends is the reason we chose to drive to Grand Rapids for our summer vacation, but, house geeks that we are, there were plenty of sights to see right outside our friends’ door.
Today, Grand Rapids looks a bit like the town that Amway built with many notable buildings and institutions bearing the names of the multi-level-marketing company’s founders, Van Andel and De Vos. But 100 years ago it was names like Limbert and Stickley Brothers that helped put GR on the national map as the “Furniture City.”
Much of the furniture produced during that time was arts & crafts-styled to meet popular demand across the country. The homes in Grand Rapids followed suit and many lovely, generously-sized arts & crafts homes fill the city’s older neighborhoods. (The house at the right was one of Ms. Bungalow’s favorites.)
During our visit, we enjoyed several walks through the neighborhoods and on a couple occassions I took some pictures of the nice houses we saw. Compared to Minneapolis, Grand Rapids seems to have a higher proportion of foursquares and fewer bungalows. The friends we stayed with on our weeklong trip have one of those foursquares that they are gradually renovating and restoring to great effect.
A set of thirteen of my Grand Rapids house photos is now on the “Photos” page of the site. The photos all come from a relatively small part of the southeast quadrant of the city stretching from the historic Heritage Hill district near downtown through East Hills and into Eastown. There are a pair of Frank Lloyd Wright houses in the batch, one of which (the Meyer May House) is professionally restored and open to the public.
So what about the relaxing beach I mentioned? We spent a day on the sandy eastern shore of Lake Michigan, just a 45-minute drive from GR. That big lake is close enough to an ocean for this midwesterner.
And the cool drinks to sip? We had mojitos around the table playing Settlers of Catan with good old friends while a pair of baby monitors hummed on a ledge nearby.
It was an excellent vacation.