WRITER | JULIE FORD
PHOTOS | GENE MEADOWS PHOTOGRAPHY
Coming Home to Rochester
On the corner of two streets named after early-1900s Pontiac real estate developers, a modest 86-year-old home was carefully deconstructed to make way for a new home. The tired bungalow had lived its life, and the land that once supported the first home of the Falker family in 1930, today supports a beautiful new home for Kelly and Jim McClelland.
As a teen attending Rochester High School, Kelly enjoyed driving around the streets of the Depression-era neighborhoods, admiring the towering trees and dreaming of someday owning a home there. Years later, after raising their family in Oakland Township, the McClellands decided it was time to downsize. They contacted Bob Bloomingdale, founder and president of Bloomingdale Construction Company, who specializes in the gentrification of downtown Rochester neighborhoods, and Bloomingdale had just the corner property in mind.
“Wouldn’t you know, it’s the property I loved in high school,” says Kelly with an astonished tone to her voice. “Call it serendipity – we are a family of faith, and it’s the Lord’s blessing we have this home.”
With deference to the historic St. Andrews neighborhood, the 2,474-square-foot Village-style home with East Coast charm has three bedrooms, three full baths, and two half-baths. It’s a blend of architectural styles that, together, unite the visual appeal of a bygone era with modern complements. Situated on a highly visible corner lot, special care was taken to design the home, carriage house garage, and formal landscaping. “We didn’t want to compromise the neighborhood,” shares Kelly. “We like that hometown feel and didn’t want it to look like it stuck out like a sore thumb; we didn’t want to disappoint the neighbors.”
Yes, Bloomingdale is razing homes to make way for new construction, but there’s more to it. He explains three key reasons for tearing down the old: the original home is no longer structurally sound, it is not located in the right spot on the lot – unable to be moved, and some homebuyers want nothing to do with an old home.
In the deconstructing process, usable building components are “branded” with the home’s street address and zip code. “We harvest the material for the new homeowner to introduce old materials into the new home,” explains Bloomingdale, adding the rest is sent to warehouses such as Rochester Salvage and Supply. “That has been a very popular option for maintaining the home in place.” In the McClelland home, the reclaimed front porch light from the original home now rests in Jim’s home office.
And how does Bloomingdale’s company manage to build in such close quarters? “We go to the neighbors on either side and across the street, and we give them gift certificates for any purchase in downtown Rochester, to use when they are really stressed out and upset with us.”
The excavating, cement pouring, lumber delivering, and related vehicles can be a spectacle – especially when a heavy cast iron tub arrives. “My bathtub is huge,” describes Kelly. “My granny in Ireland had a cast iron bathtub when I was a little girl, and Bob Bloomingdale made this happen,” Kelly recalls the crane that lifted the tub to the second floor before the walls were built. “They reinforced the floor, and they protected it lovingly with a box they built around it. It’s really, really special to me.”
With a deep appreciation for bridging the past with their new home, both Fieldstone Architecture and Engineering and lead architect and designer for Bloomingdale Construction Jenna Campbell designed the McClelland home to include elements from their Oakland Township home. “We replicated the staircase in this house from our old house,” notes Kelly, adding, “Jim’s mother made stained glass – we built the windows the same (as the previous home) to accommodate the beautiful stained glass she had made.”
For natural light and to assuage the claustrophobic feeling of close neighbors, windows are a key element. Upper cabinets in the kitchen were sacrificed to have full-height windows, and the bank of windows at the back of the home brings attention to the openness of the main floor from the foyer to the patio. Near the dining area, a sunroom designed with radiant heat is a four-season retreat. “I love my sunroom – it’s really special to me,” shares Kelly, mentioning how her cherished heirloom African violets have adapted beautifully. “I pray for people there – that’s my favorite place, a sweet sanctuary.”
While the previous McClelland home was situated on an acre, building in town with neighbors close to one side was well considered in the design and placement of windows. Bloomingdale, who stresses design, constructability, and never building the same home twice, says the McClellands were very prepared for downsizing – cutting their living space about in half from their previous home and being cognizant of the lifestyle change that presents.
The open floor plan, two bedrooms with private baths, the master suite with private bath, second-floor laundry, the two additional half-baths and the 826 square feet of finished basement were all designed with company in mind. “We built an open house because we love to have company,” explains Kelly, adding that the custom walnut kitchen/dining room table made by the Amish can seat 18. “Its leaves are inside the table on a pulley system – you pull the table, and the leaves pop up.”
Wide plank hickory flooring, the textural stacked stone of the corner fireplace, and classic built-ins add to the “comfy not stuffy” house of peace the McClellands designed. For even more relaxation, the finished basement has a large TV area, snack bar, workshop, craft area, and a fully equipped massage room specifically designed to alleviate the carrying of the table and supplies for the massage therapist.
“What we build is unique – our intent is to complement or enhance the neighborhood and streetscape,” notes Bloomingdale. “I would like to build what Thomas Kinkade painted.” Kelly adds, “I love that it looks homey. Jim and I come in, and it just feels like home.”
Bloomingdale Construction 602 W. University Drive, Rochester 48307 | (248) 651-6701 l BloomingdaleConstruction.com