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Marquette — Tom Baldwin was on a flight to New York in the summer of 1987 when he read an article about an aging lodge in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

He did some research and fell in love with the place with an unusual name, grand rooms, even grander views and its own island just off its 3.7 miles of rugged Lake Superior frontage.

“When I first saw this place, I thought it was the most unique place ever,” the bond trader from Chicago said. For $4.2 million, Granot Loma became his.

Now, nearly three decades later, he’s selling the expansive property, asking nearly 10 times his purchase price. Considered the most expensive residential real estate for sale in Michigan, the complex and the 7.76 square miles of property on which it sits is listed at $40 million.

“It’s the last of the Adirondack lodges to be built, and is reported to be the largest log cabin in the world, definitely in the United States,” Baldwin said.

The home features a 60-foot-long great room with a massive stone fireplace and 18-foot mantle recovered from a sunken ship, 24-foot vaulted ceilings, 25 other fireplaces, 13 baths, 23 bedrooms, a wine cellar and vault. There’s also a playhouse, a guest house with four apartments, maid and butler quarters, garages, two farmhouses and a tennis court designed by tennis great Bill Tilden.

Besides the main structure, the property also features a farm with 13 buildings, including two residences, a pool, outbuildings and a huge barn for livestock. There’s a Tiffany clock atop the barn, although Baldwin said he’s had trouble getting it in working order.

The complex situated on a peninsula jutting into Lake Superior has a private harbor where Baldwin can anchor his 42-foot Fountain Lightning offshore racing boat and a Boston Whaler used for fishing.

The surrounding 5,100 acres of woodlands and trails are full of game such as white-tail deer, moose and beaver. There are two blue-ribbon trout streams that have a great steelhead run each fall.

Property taxes alone are about $55,000 a year.

The rise of Granot Loma

As the story goes, “Louis Kaufman was turned down for membership in the Huron Mountain Club nearby, so he decided to show them all and build a place that would rival or surpass anything there or in the Adirondack Mountains,” Baldwin said.

The Chicago financier hired 400 Scandinavian craftsmen to build the lodge between 1919 and 1923.

But, “when I bought this place it had fallen into disrepair,” Baldwin said, explaining that Kaufman’s daughter and son-in-law inherited the log home and other buildings on the property in 1947 when Kaufman’s widow, Marie, died.

“By 1950, the lodge had been essentially abandoned,” Baldwin said. “The couple occupied the farm and used the lodge for special occasions. They kind of shut the door and walked away.”

Grand renovation

After buying Granot Loma in 1987, Baldwin spent $4 million and the next 18 months restoring the huge lodge. Interior work and decorations took another two years. He added a kitchen modeled after one in the White House, a breakfast solarium overlooking the lake, and a 3,000-gallon hot tub. Five full- and part-time employees keep the place running and make repairs as needed to the 97-year-old complex.

Located 15 miles north of Marquette, the property, which was placed on the Register of National Historic Landmarks in 1991, is the permanent home for Baldwin, his fiance, Karen McDonnell, and four children (three from Baldwin’s earlier marriage). Baldwin has an office in the lodge where Kaufman once worked.

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The couple has decided their work is near its end and listed Granot Loma for sale Oct. 1. Bob Sullivan, owner of Marquette’s Northern Michigan Land Brokers, said the property drew inquiries.

“When I listed Granot Loma, it immediately became the most-viewed listing in the Unites States on Realtor.com. It’s one of the top 20 listings in the United States and the top listing in Michigan,” Sullivan said.

“We’ve had interest in the property, and we’re being very selective in the process of showing it. There are only a few people who might fit into this place. We have three very interested parties.

“This is a rare piece of property. It will be sold, I don’t know to whom or when, but the property is too good an opportunity.”

The family hasn’t decided where they’ll move once the home sells. When asked how they would feel when they walk out the door for the last time and drive away, Tom Baldwin became pensive.

“I’ve done this for 30 years. But change keeps us young,” he said. “This place has it’s own aura — it’s own magic. Nothing overshadows this house.”

McDonnell became emotional at the thought of leaving. “I’ll think of family times here ... the children growing up here, the holidays. It’s been an adventure, but life is about change.”

John L. Russell is a photojournalist and freelance writer from Traverse City.

About the name

Granot Loma (gra’-not low’-ma) is a combination of the names of original owner Louis Kaufman’s three children — Louis, Graveraet and Otto — and his wife, Marie.

The name is engraved in stone in the main chimney, carved in interior wood and inlaid on the baby grand piano. It’s also prominently displayed in the two-inch slate tiles in the roof of the huge livestock barn at the farm.

About the style

Adirondack Architecture is a rugged style that used native building materials from the mountains of New York, such as logs, bark, roots and burls, along with granite or quartz fieldstone. The use of native materials not only promoted a natural appearance for the camp, but also cut the cost of construction.

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