When Jill Dieterle wakes up in the morning, she is in her grandparents’ bedroom. When she makes coffee, she makes it in her grandmother’s kitchen. And when she needs the good dishes, she takes them from the corner cupboard her grandfather made.
Jill’s 1930s American vernacular cottage was built in 1939 by her grandparents Jake and Alice Dieterle. (Many sidewalks around town bear Jake Dieterle’s name or that of his brother, Fred, because their construction company poured the sidewalks at the houses they built.)
Because Jake Dieterle was a finish carpenter, he did all the woodwork in the house, including the corner cupboard. Luckily the woodwork was never painted, and Jill was spared the truly awful job of stripping it.
When Jake was badly injured in a fall from a roof and confined to bed for a long period, the sound of the frequent trains across the street became unbearable. In 1944 the house was sold and the Dieterles moved away.
Other owners lived in the house for several years. In the 1950s Alice bought back the house she had loved. She lived there until her death in 1994, the same year that her granddaughter returned to Michigan to become a philosophy professor at EMU. Jill moved into her grandparents’ house.
Jill removed the aluminum siding and had the house painted in its present lovely color scheme. Metal shutters have been replaced by the original wooden shutters that Jill found stored in the basement. Shoe molding had all been removed and it was also discovered in the basement. Putting all the pieces back into their original locations was a challenging jigsaw puzzle.
Seventeen lilacs thriving at the back fence were a birthday gift to Jill from her dad to replace the originals that her grandfather had planted. Jill’s loving work has transformed this treasured house into a delightful and serene home.