Gerts Cottages, Whitehall, Michigan
S.077 – Mary Gerts Cottage, 5260 South Shore Drive
S.078 – Walter Gerts Cottage, 5270 or 5292 South Shore Drive (see narrative)
Ethel Gerts and Laura Gale (S.088) were sisters. Their husbands Walter and Thomas purchased a tract of land on White Lake near Lake Michigan to build summer cottages. The Gale section produced four cottages – one for the Gales and three rental cottages. Walter and Ethel Gerts built a simple single-story cottage on their section (S.078), and Walter’s mother Mary built a spectacular ode to nature on the adjoining lot (S.077).
S.077 has a bridge over Birch Brook, which flows into White Lake. I was able to visit during rainy season, and the current owner told me there was twice as much water flowing as would normally be expected. The bridge was once open to the elements, and Wright had designed the roof to extend only halfway across the bridge. Subsequent owners enclosed the bridge and extended the roof to roughly the three-quarters mark. Added weight has caused the need for supports below.
The original design was a single-story structure. The second floor was added early in the cottage’s existence and encloses a porch that had been located on that end of the building.
Photographed on April 28, 2016.
Project numbers: T.0202 (S.077), T.0203 (S.078)
S.078 represents the Walter Gerts Cottage. It was far less spectacular than Walter’s mother’s cottage (S.077), and Prof. Storrer reports that very little of the original structure survives after more than a century of renovations, resurfacing, and enlargements. Storrer shows the street address as 5270, while Thomas Heinz (Frank Lloyd Wright Field Guide) shows it as 5292. 5292 matches more closely to the Google Maps setting.