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Inside a 10,000-square-foot home on Island Lake in Bloomfield Township sits a telephone closet where the original owner could make direct phone calls to the White House. 

The telephone closet, still in place and now painted a bold red, is just one of several unique features of the former home of one-time U.S. Defense Secretary Charles Erwin Wilson. Wilson served under former President Dwight Eisenhower for four years in the 1950s.

The house, built in 1938, also has thick walls, two-feet thick in some places, so it could withstand a bomb threat, said Realtor Dan Gutfreund with Sotheby's International Realty.

It "has steel beams throughout, concrete floors on all levels and walls of plaster, brick and stone," said Gutfreund.

But that's not to say this 7-bedroom colonial with 9 full baths and two half baths, recently listed for $3.499 million, looks like barracks inside or out. The exterior is covered in original granite stone and it has a slate roof.

The inside has a traditional aesthetic. The house was recently updated with new custom cabinets, a chef's kitchen and Wolf ovens, said Gutfreund.

"It’s a brand new kitchen – the floors, the cabinets," said Gutfreund. "They ripped everything down to the studs." 

A great room, or family room, was added in 2012. It has a triangular ceiling and comes right off the breakfast room."

Wilson, an engineer and a businessman, was the president of General Motors during World War II. He led the company’s defense production effort and after leaving the company, served as Eisenhower's defense secretary from 1953 to 1957.

But his home was an oasis away from Washington. Situated on three acres with 297 feet of lake front footage on Island Lake, he and his family lived in the house for approximately 35 years. They called it Longmeadow.

Shortly after the house was featured in a local real estate magazine, one of Wilson's relatives reached out to Gutfruend. His grandfather, Wilson's last surviving child, grew up at Longmeadow.

The property was much larger originally and included a barn and a gatehouse on Long Lake Road.

Today, the house still has a lovely view of Island Lake and the current owners have taken the landscaping "to the next level," says Gutfreund. They also updated all the exterior patios, making it ideal for entertaining. 

mfeighan@detroitnews.com

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