Fieldstones

Leelanau County, Michigan was shaped during the last ice age by the continental ice sheet that covered the area.  While that geology is a subject I intend to write about at a later date, my focus in this post is the town of Suttons Bay.  This little hamlet has become one of our ‘go-to’ place for services, as it sports a laundromat and grocery store.  It is also home to many unique shops and restaurants, along with a Saturday farmer’s market.  While driving on the back streets of town, we began to notice something very different about the village: the heavy concentration of fieldstone homes.  As many of you know, the glacial ice sheet that covered the northern United States deposited a layer of rounded stones in all shapes and sizes.  The soil in the Leelanau region of Michigan is full of them.  As a result, the local architecture reflects the presence of the stones, as they provided a cheap and abundant building material.

  
This is a charming home that uses natural fieldstone for all of its exterior walls.

  
Many of the homes use the stone for the foundation only.

  
This beauty took that a step further to include a fieldstone chimney.

  
This one appeared to have concrete below the decorative fieldstone. 

  
There was a builder’s trailer parked in the driveway of this home.  It appeared to be in the process of being renovated.

  
One of my favorites was this bungalow.  Take a close look at the detail in the railing of the porch.  The insets in the center of the railing employs the use of smaller diameter stones.  The gargoyles are the ‘piece de resistance’, as this structure really stands out among the others.

  
The stones are also used to construct retaining walls and borders throughout the town.  Wild Cherry Resort has also used fieldstone in this manner.

  
The use of the stones is not limited to older structures.  This is actually a modern home that sports a layer of the rounded rocks.

The crown jewel of the town is Union School on St. Mary’s Street.
 
This charming structure was built in 1907.  It was recently converted to four condominiums.  Looking at it, I couldn’t help but imagine the children who took this building for granted, only to realize as adults how fortunate they were to attend classes in such a beautiful school.

If you find yourself in Suttons Bay, get off the main road and check these structures out.  It is worth the few minutes it takes to drive through the town.

What sorts of indigineous stone have you noticed being used in the buildings in your area?

19 thoughts on “Fieldstones”

    1. I had seen several fieldstone farmhouses in the area, but the concentration of the houses in Suttons Bay caught my eye, Debbie. And that school was what started it. If you have a chance, Google ‘Suttons Bay Stone School’ and check out the photos of the condos. Simply outstanding.

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  1. Lovely homes and stone work. Even when we aren’t interested in houses we STILL love to drive around and see the architectural styles of the places we visit. Each town has it’s own plan for housing — well, not so much ‘plan’ in a formal sense, but the results of the same contractors working in town over a decade or several

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    1. Thanks, Crissy! Some of them were backlit by the sun, so they are a little tough to see the detail. I’m starting to notice more of these houses in other locations, but I was amazed at the concentration of them in Suttons Bay. Thanks for reading!

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  2. The homes are beautiful. I have always liked it when natural stones are used for houses. And using the fieldstone shaped by the glaciers adds a little extra to the history of the house I feel! What a lovely town!

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