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Tally Home! Historic hollow revived
Historic renovation wins MARI award

By DOUG EDMUNDS

 

The Bowens sought to re-create the feeling of European hotels they’ve visited.

Almost 70 years have passed since one of Mequon’s most elegant estates was constructed in a woodsy glen near Zedler Lane. Horse-drawn carriages once brought visitors down the winding, one-lane bridle paths that led to a stable and hunting lodge known as Juniper Hollow. It was the ultimate gentleman’s retreat: a reward for the time spent working in the city. It was far away from the urban bustle yet near enough for a day’s fox hunt.

Even today, time seems to slip away when driving down these same paths. Although they’re now covered with asphalt, the narrow roads take the same winding route through the forest. Branches form a picturesque canopy over the paths, effectively hiding homes from view. Eventually, there’s a break in the trees, revealing the sprawling expanse of the original estate. There are 36 homes on the property that once belonged solely to Juniper Hollow. The current estate consists of about three acres.

In June 1998, Jim and Lori Bowen took their first look at Juniper Hollow. They were originally from Green Bay, where Jim worked for the Fort Howard Paper Company and Lori was the primary caregiver for their two children. Retired at 53, Jim wanted to return to a place closer to his roots. His family is from Whitefish Bay, and he is a graduate from Whitefish Bay High School. Lori, 40, still had family ties in Green Bay. She wanted a place that had easy freeway access for her frequent visits to Green Bay. Juniper Hollow seemed ideally situated to meet both their needs.

The family room is full of historic drama. “We wanted the woodwork to stand out, to be a piece of art,” explains Lori Bowen.


Their first thought was to build a house in Mequon. But their search for land didn’t turn up an acceptable piece of property. At a relative’s urging, they drove out to Juniper Hollow. It wasn’t love at first sight. The property had been on the market for two years. Although the estate was impressive, it needed extensive work. The house had undergone some updating over the years, but much of the major systems hadn’t been touched since it was built. The roof and insulation were overdue for some attention, and the electrical, heating and plumbing systems also were inadequate for today’s lifestyles. It was a daunting project.

Yet the Bowens were charmed by the home’s unique nature. Photos of the original estate revealed that successive owners had stayed true to the home’s design. Not intended for a residence, it still had the layout of a lodge and adjoining stable. Combined, the complex formed a 7,000-square-foot ranch. It had a main living area and a large central hallway that linked extensive wings. The home had the warm, cozy feel of an English country estate. Amenities included six original fireplaces (two of which recently have been converted to gas). There were 14 doors leading to the outside; many of these are the original stable doors. These heavy, paneled Dutch doors now gleam with fresh paint and the luster of restored antique hardware. Extra touches included an abundance of elaborate millwork and keystone arched doorways.

The Bowens agreed it would be a wonderful place to raise kids, entertain company and enjoy a beautiful natural setting. According to Lori, the home’s restoration would be a great retirement project for Jim, and was something she could participate in, too.

The most elaborate transformation
took place in the kitchen, completely gutted and rebuilt.


They purchased the property for $760,000 and promptly began searching for a builder to help turn their dreams into realities. They came to a meeting of minds with representatives from Bartelt Filo in Menomonee Falls. The firm had extensive experience with historic remodels, and it was known for the quality of its work and especially its cabinetry. The firm had won numerous national awards from the National Association of Remodeling Industry, including National Contractor of the Year. Bartelt Filo president Rick Filo was the project’s expeditor.

ince the home was not originally a residence, we had to get creative to bring it up to the 21st century,” Rick Filo recalls. “Because the house was constructed so well, it was especially difficult to take apart.” The challenges during remodeling presented a number of opportunities to improve the home’s design without disturbing its unique appeal.

During this time, the Bowens spent 14 months in a tiny apartment on the property. They barely had room for their belongings, let alone two young children (now ages six and eight).

Like many vintage homes, Juniper Hollow had been subdivided into a series of tiny rooms. The remodeling firm’s mission was to open up the floor place and improve access to the living quarters. “Aesthetic issues played a huge part in the renovation,” Rick Filo says. “We paid meticulous attention to detailing in order to recapture the gracious style of the original estate.” The project’s senior designer was Geoffrey Ladish Gabor.

More than $500,000 was spent on the six-month remodeling project, (during which, Rick Filo had daily contact with the Bowens) with spectacular results. The area formerly used as stables now houses a master bedroom, master bath, dressing room and the children’s wing. The new activity center was formerly a screen porch. The guest bedroom, guest bath and laundry room were originally the caretaker’s quarters.

Hessman Cabinetry was largely responsible for replicating the home’s elaborate millwork.


One of the home’s new highlights is a dressing room and closet for the master bath. The closets were custom-made in cherry, featuring fluted columns dividing the clothing sections. The room has the grace and cool elegance of a Ralph Lauren men’s store.

Perhaps the most elaborate transformation took place in the kitchen. This area was completely gutted and rebuilt. During construction, the original fieldstone on the kitchen’s exterior was removed, cleaned and replaced as part of the ceiling and wall restoration. The formerly cramped, low-ceilinged kitchen now beams with light, thanks to new Pella windows and a vaulted ceiling.

During remodeling, the original butler’s pantry was removed and replaced with a planning desk that is large enough to hold a computerized recipe system. A focal point of the kitchen is a large cherry hutch that matches the desk and the rest of the cabinetry. The rest of the kitchen features dark green granite counter tops, pewter and brushed nickel faucets and hardware pulls, and white oak plank flooring that matches some of the original floors.

he kitchen’s glass-fronted cabinets feature a striking inlay of cherry beading that frames the doors. The glass doors are handmade replicas of fine cabinetry from the 1920s, with zinc grids. Although the leaded glass is new, it has the slightly distorted look of antique glass panes. Appliances are upscale as well, with a Viking griddle and grill and twin Sub-Zero refrigerators.

Although the interior kitchen work was extensive, the exterior is a flawless re-creation of the original. “We’re very proud of retaining the historic integrity of the property,” Rick says. Not surprisingly, the project won a 1999 National Association of Remodeling Industry award for historic renovation.

The family room, too, is a dramatic showpiece. The entry is a keystone archway that is a superior example of the cabinetmaker’s art. It’s made of cherry, as is a concealed entertainment center that houses a TV/VCR on one side of the fireplace, and stereo equipment on the other. An integrated speaker system was added to the adjacent three-room area. “We wanted the woodwork to stand out, to be a piece of art,” Lori explains.

The home’s elaborate millwork was faithfully replicated in wall and window trims. Customized forms had to be constructed to reproduce the desired results. The roof also got a custom treatment. Its cedar shakes are larger and thicker than average to producer a heavier, English appearance.