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The Lodge at Timber Stone LakeCourtesy of The Lodge at Timber Stone Lake
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Lodge at Timber Stone Lake 2The brick in the fireplace has a last-minutesalvation story, too. Twenty truckloads of hard paving brick were salvagedfrom under asphalt when a lot was being prepared as a new building site.
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Lodge at Timber Stone Lake 3
A House Made From Found Items
Perhaps Mother Goose can write another poem after she comes and visits the guest lodge that Jerry “Brock” Brockmiller built entirely of reclaimed materials.
And, like any goose, she will love the 25-acre lake and 200 acres of woods and meadows surrounding the Lodge at Timber Stone Lake, north of Hannibal and near La Grange. When you first walk into the house, you feel like you are stepping into a lodge nestled deep in the Rocky Mountains. Maybe it’s the overall scale of everything in the house—the huge timbers, the massive fireplace, the way the wood flows from floors to post to timber to ceiling.
And yet, the golden-toned wood, the red brick, and the hand-hewn stone deliver the feeling of coziness. You just feel like curling up on one of the leather couches in front of the fireplace and sitting all day reading a book, looking out the glass wall at the lake view, and then taking a nap. And then maybe a hike. That’s the whole point of the lodge. It’s really a retreat, soothing comfort for your body and a home for your soul.
There’s even a cook for every meal, if desired. You won’t lift a finger, unless perhaps you’re holding a glass of wine.
You will easily leave worries behind—no rats allowed—when you’re here in the house that Brock built. Brock didn’t really intend to build his lodge entirely of reclaimed materials, but once he got started, it became a game that he couldn’t quit. There’s not one square inch of drywall or plaster in the 5,000-square-foot lodge, which has four king bedrooms and five baths but can sleep twelve comfortably with the use of two additional semi-private queen loft bedrooms. First he built a lake on some land he had bought, and the plan was to build a small hunting cabin using trees cut from the property.
At a class reunion, he learned about a four-story brick building scheduled for demolition in nearby Quincy, Illinois. The building, built in 1888, had most recently served as a lumberyard, and Brock, who was a contractor, had been in the building often. After making a deal for the massive timbers and joists from that building, the small cabin morphed into an all-wood luxury lodge overlooking the large, secluded lake.
Brock began designing his dream lodge with three goals in mind: One, use all the massive timbers; two, lose nothing of their size; and three, use the materials in a way that best displays the girth and age of each timber. All of the huge beams were re-sawed, planed, and then built into six identical timber bents, or frames. All were fitted and refinished to form the post and beam structure of the lodge. The yellow-pine flooring and the walls and ceiling boards in the lodge came from splitting thick floor joists from that same old building.
Next, Brock learned of another building to be demolished in Quincy, which had been built in the late 1800s as a school or church, perhaps both, but had lately been a part of St. Mary’s Hospital.
He made a deal to buy and haul off the foundation stone from that building. He recovered 150 tons of stone that now serve as foundation, fireplace base, retaining walls, and also as an arched alcove for a wood stove in the walkout level. While he was there making sure the stones were not damaged as they were being removed, he saw a few grey-green slate roof tiles lying on the ground and learned the whole roof was covered with them.
A builder from Chicago was supposed to buy them but never showed, and the wrecking ball was due the next day. Brock quickly found the supervisor and asked if he could remove and haul off the tiles. The crew leader didn’t really want to delay but relented and gave Brock twenty-four hours. Brock got a crew together and on site within an hour and pulled out thirteen pallets of the slate. Originally ten-by-eighteen-inch rectangles that were three-eighths-inch thick, the slate has been cut into smaller tiles that serve as the kitchen backsplash and in showers in the house. Later, he learned that slate would cost two thousand dollars for one hundred square feet today. Then Brock’s good friend and co-builder, Steve Kiefaber, was removing the tin from a roof of a home in La Grange that the owner was tearing down.
Steve saw the owner’s crew kicking out one-inch thick, ten-inch wide soft pine boxing planks and called Brock, who talked the owner into allowing him to salvage the planks, which he then turned into kitchen cabinets. He stained some black and left some in the natural color to achieve the worn but timeless look. “What I learned by doing this, you can build new houses a lot faster with Sheetrock,” Brock says.
“We had to mill out the wood in every square inch of this house, and anytime you’re messing with old materials, you may go one day forward and then four days backward. We had to clean, re-plane, and use a metal-detector to pull out old nails. Everything was re-sawed then refinished with boiled linseed oil. There’s not one square inch of wood in this house that hasn’t had Steve’s or my fingerprints, hands, or knees on it.”
The devotion to quality shows in every detail, such as the river stone shower, where it took him days just to place the stones in the shower.
“I’d spend eight hours and realize I’d done only a foot of shower. It took me a month to make that shower,” Brock says. The shower has an eye-catching design combining smaller rocks and larger rocks, but that was accidental, he says. He thought maybe using smaller rocks toward the top would make the work go faster, but it didn’t.
One thing you won’t see is electrical cords, or any add-on materials to create troughs for them. Brock and Steve drilled troughs into the wood to carry wiring. The same meticulous attention to detail and fine design used in the building of the house has been matched by Brock’s wife, Sondi, in the furnishings and artwork.
Steve’s wife, Pam, is also involved as a caretaker of the lodge. “The two of them deserve a lot of credit for showing loads of patience over the four-year project while we were working long hours with little pay,” Brock says.
Brock has just begun selling memberships to his lodge, and members will have the use of the entire property for horseback riding, swimming, floating, and new additions as he gets them done, such as a zip line through the woods, trapshooting, maybe even ultra-light paragliding on the lake. A bass boat trip around the lake shoreline makes a relaxing fishing day, he says, and hikers on the path around the lake almost always see deer, turkey, and other wildlife.
One winter day during the years of construction, seven bald eagles spent their day at the lake. “More eagle watching than work got done that day,” Brock says.
A big outdoor picnic area can seat seventy-five for large groups, and it has a bandstand. Steve Holy and Shenandoah have performed there for nonprofit fundraising groups. In fact, the lodge itself has already easily accommodated groups of one hundred. This is the house that Brock built.
Visit www.TimberStoneLake.com or call 217-242-7297 for more information.