Built sturdy and strong to withstand the frigid northeastern Michigan cold, this Sears-Roebuck house was home to generations of state park rangers near Rogers City. Today, you can rent the classic kit house dwelling for overnight stays.
“A lot of people come back every year. You know who’s going to be staying there a year from now,” says P.H. Hoeft State Park Supervisor Blake Gingrich.
First opened to park guests in 2007, but rarely advertised, the Sears-Roebuck house, which sleeps eight to 10 people, is a favorite of families and “is usually booked a year in advance during the summer,” Gingrich says, “but the winter is pretty much open.”
Michigan has a handful of state park lodges for rent, but none of them are as picturesque or situated so charmingly as the one at Hoeft, in Michigan’s northeastern Lower Peninsula. There’s no busy road, no internet, and no TV. Lake Huron is about 150 feet from the front door.
Sears-Roebuck houses are part of America’s history. A Novi group, Kit House Hunters, estimates there are at least 900 in Michigan. Popular in the early half of the 20th century, they would come complete with every board and nail, ready to assemble.
When Gingrich and his team rehabbed the house so it could be used by park guests, they stripped off layers of linoleum and found thick hemlock wood floors beneath. They painted every room in creative colors and renovated the three bedrooms, sunroom, kitchen, game room, dining room, and living room. They harvested lumber from red oak trees on the property and had it turned into furniture including beds, chairs, and chests of drawers. Some of the wood consisted of red oak hazard trees that had to be removed. Prisoners in the Thumb Correctional Facility’s “Prison Build” program constructed a lot of the furniture.
There are few Sears department stores today, but the houses the company sold between 1908 and 1940 are enduring architectural landmarks. “(Some) people who come here (are) diehard Sears-Roebuck house fans,” Gingrich says, adding that when state park visitors first found out they could rent a Sears-Roebuck house at Hoeft, “some people donated books and pictures of houses that were similar.”
More recently, families just love the house for what it is today.
Hoeft State Park, located between Cheboygan and Alpena, has a mile of rock and sugar-sand beach. The destination offers a classically beautiful Michigan summer getaway; in winter, it’s stark and quiet.
“We get lots of snow, sometimes too much,” Gingrich says. In the stillness, though, the cozy house is a one-of-a-kind. It rents for $147 per night.
P.H. Hoeft State Park