The classic Victorian cottage at the corner of Woodland Avenue and Division Street offers the first glimpse of the Bay View Historic Landmark District.
The scene is familiar since it has been featured in magazines, calendars and even advertisements throughout Northern Michigan. The cottage is exactly as the local carpenters designed and built it in 1887. Same footprint. Same proportions. Even the blue gray color dates back to the early 1900s.
Old Glory, as the cottage is called, is flanked by two-story cedars on each side and white hydrangeas that enhance the double deck porch. An American flag flies from the upper porch reminding us of the national history represented by the association.
The driveway to this “wooden tent” is off Woodland Avenue just as it was in the horse and buggy days. A turnaround (around an old tree) on the west side of the property makes it easy for family and visitors to safely re-enter Woodland Avenue.
Inside this cottage-in-miniature there is a place for everything and everything is neatly in its place. The cupboards are reduced in size, obviously designed and hand-built for the space. The nearly 90-year-old hand-painted garden scenes on the bathroom walls look like wallpaper. Hand-painted antiques have been respectfully preserved by 19 different owners who include many couples and single women. Everything is either original, like the working Bell pump organ, or creatively painted Victorian antiques.
Christine and Robert Wyatt, the current owners, bought it from friends in Clarkston in 2004 after seeing an advertisement in the Michigan Christian Advocate. The Rev. Christine Wyatt was shown the ad by her minister. She and her husband came to see the cottage and made an offer. The only thing the couple has done is screen in the back porch, with the help of a neighbor. There they spend most of their time reading, looking at their beautiful garden and enjoying meals with their summer resident grandchildren, who spend their days at the Bay View Recreation Program.
Just off the breezy porch is the mini kitchen with hand-built cupboards and a functioning 1930s narrow gas stove. There is room, though, for a full-size refrigerator. This kitchen and the attached bathroom were added in the 1930s.
The next room serves as a dining room with an unusually wide (for the 1880s) staircase to the two-bedroom second floor. North of that room is the living room with the cottage’s only contemporary appliance — a wide screen TV. The electrical wiring was updated in the 1980s leaving the historic knob and tube fixtures and featuring matching elegant glass and brass globes, one in the dining room and one in the living room. The second floor bedrooms are furnished with hand-painted dressers and matching beds with chenille bedspreads. Lake breezes provide inexpensive air conditioning for hot summers.
Christine is now retired from her position as minister of adult education at the Clarkston United Methodist Church and Robert, a civil engineer specializing in traffic and transportation, is also retired, from General Motors and Union Pacific Railroad. So, the Wyatts are now finally able to fully enjoy the area’s total summer experience. They go to everything — concerts, lectures and all sorts of events. Most importantly, they take their grandchildren to recreation activities and to the beach to enjoy swimming and sailing.