At the end of October, in 1978, we moved out of the farmhouse and moved in to the Stone House. Easy to find, it was featured on the new Wojan-Cashman map of Beaver Island. During the tourist season, the large home rented for a whopping two hundred and fifty dollars per week…but from the end of October to the first of May, we could have it for a mere one hundred twenty-five dollars a month!
The Stone House was on the corner of the King’s Highway and Paid Een Og’s Road (pronounced, roughly, podge-een-ogg ),about two and a half miles south of the farmhouse. It had recently been the retirement home of a Catholic priest, Father Donahue. His nephew, Jim Lovely, had inherited it when the priest died. It was from him that we rented it.
The main structure was a two story square building of beautiful fieldstone with a gambrel roof, but additions had been added in almost every direction. To the south, a large enclosed porch collected enough heat to feel like a sauna on sunny days days. Another enclosed porch faced the King’s Highway to the east. On the west, a couple large additions featured a living-ding room, bathroom, kitchen and a garage at the end of the driveway off Paid Een Og’s Road.
The yard was bordered with flowering hedges. A large, old rickety barn stood to the south of the house. The woods came right up to the driveway on the west.
We always parked in the driveway, and entered through the garage. The west wall – farthest from the house – and the back wall were covered in pegboard, loaded with simple tools. Shallow benches and shelves hugged the walls. In the center of the garage sat a barrel stove. The wall closest to the house had wood storage along the first half, then the stairs that would lead into the kitchen, and then a space for a washer and dryer. It seems like there was room to park a car in there, but I never remember doing it.
Up the stairs and into the kitchen, you would first be face to face with a beautiful old cast iron wood-burning cook stove. Pans rested on its surface and hung above it. Turn sharply to the left, to see the rest of the kitchen. An electric stove stood alone on the left, on the wall shared with the garage. Cupboards lined the wall straight ahead, with a sink in the center and the refrigerator at the far end. A window above the sink looked out on the driveway, side yard and Paid Een Og’s Road beyond. A little table was tucked into the corner opposite the refrigerator; between those two items, a doorway led to the dining and living space.
The dining table sat in front of a large window, again facing Paid Een Og’s Road. The far wall had once been the back, exterior wall of the original building. The wall was fieldstone. It grabbed the cold and held on to it. Those stone walls radiated cold all winter long. Though they were lovely, I shudder with the memory of them. A bookcase stood against the stone wall, its shelves filled missals, ledgers and old cookbooks.
The stone continued across the back wall of the living area. On the opposite side of the room, on the wall shared with the kitchen, was a large stone fireplace. A slab of wood retrieved from a shipwreck was the mantle. Into the face of it was carved the legend, “Chop you own Wood and it Warms you Twice.” A “heat-a-lator” insert helped to send more heat back into the room. Tucked into the far corner was a door that lead into a small bathroom. The south wall had windows that looked out onto an enclosed porch. On the far end of the stone wall, just opposite the bathroom door, was a doorway leading into the original house.
What had been living spaces were now sleeping quarters. The first, main room was kept open. Just inside was a stairway, leading to two upstairs bedrooms. We only used those rooms for company. Another door led to a set of old wooden steps that led to the basement. There was a fuse box down there and a fuel oil furnace. Kettles and zinc wash tubs shared space with equipment for making saurkraut, apple cider and maple syrup.
Across from the stairs was a small desk that held the telephone. Straight ahead was the front door, leading into another enclosed porch, this one facing the King’s Highway. A pot-bellied wood stove sat in the center of the room. To the left, an archway led into a mid-sized room with two twin beds. That became the bedroom for my daughters. At the back of that room, a wooden door led into another small bedroom; that’s where my husband and I slept.
That’s the end of the simple tour through the Stone House on Beaver Island