Unusual pencil rock house in Ann Arbor is for sale for $ 4.8 million

With raw stone walls, flat roofs, deep overhangs, and artisanal furniture, this low house pays massive homage to Frank Lloyd Wright, even though Wright didn’t design it.

It was designed decades after Wright’s death by prominent Ann Arbor architect Carl Gilmore for a client who was Wright’s avid fan.

It was unveiled to the Free Press at Michigan House Envy seven years ago, but now it’s back for sale and worth showing again. It is still one of the most beautiful and unusual homes in Ann Arbor.

Wright was famous for small kitchens, but this owner, a restaurant tycoon, insisted on a large commercial version.  The long stainless steel installation of gas burners, ovens, and grill plate is called the appliance

Only one element here isn’t Wrighteous – the kitchen. Wright’s kitchens are known to be small and impractical; obviously he wasn’t cooking.

But the client for this establishment was a restaurant man – the late Dennis Serras, founding partner of Mainstreet Ventures, which owns 21 restaurants in four states. There was no way Serras would accept a poor kitchen.

“He wanted a big kitchen and we got it,” said his wife Ellie Serras.

The kitchen is 20 feet long and fully commercial. It has a combination stove, oven, and grill called “the grizzly” that is about 8 feet long. It has a dishwasher that can do a full cycle in three minutes.

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The house is built into the flank of a hill, with its weight visually supported by stacked pencil rocks.  The reality, however, is that the heavy weight is invisibly supported by an all-steel construction.

As Wright would have done, architect Gilmore designed the house to nestle in the land that includes 75 acres of rolling meadow. Since almost all the outer walls are made of glass, the inside and outside merge.

“You feel like part of the country,” said Ellie Serras. “It’s a house without borders.”

Stacked pencil rock forms walls in much of the house, including this entrance foyer.  The Oklahoma native rock was also a favorite of Wright.  On the left there is an original room divider with a seat, shelves and a lamp, all made of cherry for this place.

This mix is ​​reinforced by building interior and exterior walls from the same stone – pencil rock, which originated in Oklahoma and was a Wright favorite.

Pencil Rock is a flat rock that is neither mined nor cut. It is simply harvested where it protrudes from the ground and then transported to the construction site by truck. There it is stacked to make walls as it is – not cut to size or shaped to fit. As a result, walls made of pencil rock have a distinctive rough surface that highlights individual rocks.

The house is shaped like a cross and shows many glass walls on the 75 acres that surround it.  Designed by Carl Gilmore in the style of Frank Lloyd Wright, this house shows off the flat roofs with deep overhangs that were a Wright trademark.

This house has 600 tons of pencil rock, each 15 tons of which was carried on flatbed trucks from Oklahoma. A stonemason moved onto the property and worked for three years, Serras said. “Each of these stones was placed by hand.”

The bed, bookshelf, chest of drawers and closet were all designed for their place and built in solid cherry by craftsmen.  As in every room, the outer wall is made of glass.

The interior of the house is lush with extensive equipment, fixtures and custom-made furniture, all made of solid cherry. This cherry was also shipped by truck, then planed and shaped for its use here. In addition to cabinets, doors, and woodwork, this massive cherry is built into sofas, tables, beds, dressers, cabinets, and a large buffet that was designed by Gilmore and built by artisans. Everyone stays in the house.

The long, glass hall forms an art gallery and brings in the 75 hectares of the surrounding land.  The massive cherry was sculpted on site.  The furniture here was all designed and built for the place.

Aside from the meticulous visual work, this house was a massive engineering project. Behind the stone and cherry face, its hidden structure is made entirely of steel.

Serras said her husband “built this house as a work of love for all of us. But now it is not being used to the full.

“It takes people. It takes people who live in it and love it.”

The owners' bathroom combines cobalt blue tile with cabinets made from the same solid cherry that runs through the rest of the house.

Big stone house

Where: 3900 N. Dixboro Road, Ann Arbor

How much: $ 4,820,000

Bedroom: 4th

Bath: 4 full, 1 half

Square feet: 5.155

Key Features: The stunning Frank Lloyd Wright-style Carl Gilmore home is a work of art in its own right. Real industrial kitchen, beautiful aesthetics made of stone, cherry, glass and artisanal furniture, on 75 hectares of meadow.

Contact: Keith Brandt, Brandt Real Estate, 248-938-0777.

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