Fabulous Granot Loma

Granot Loma is probably the most impressive home on the Lake Superior shoreline. Rumor has it that the Kaufmans were not allowed to become members of the exclusive Huron Mountain Club, apparently because of their Jewish or Indian blood, so Louis G. Kaufman decided to build his own cottage along the lake. By the time he was done, it far outshone any cottage at the Huron Mountain Club and any home in Marquette as well. In fact, it is one of the most distinctive homes ever built.

Granite Loma Birds Eye View

Granite Loma, Bird’s Eye View – Courtesy of Superior View

Louis G. Kaufman made his fortune in banking, as well as marrying into money. His wife, Marie, was the daughter of Otto Young, who was worth $20,000,000 in 1900 and had made his fortune in banking, real estate, and jewelry stores. Mr. Young had agreed to give $1,000,000 to each grandchild born, resulting in the Kaufman children being known as the “million dollar babies.”

The house was built in 1919 on a granite loma (a flat, broad-topped hill), but the name was spelled as Granot Loma by using the first two letters of each of the first five Kaufman children’s names: Graveraet, Ann, Otto, Louis, and Marie. Louis G. Kaufman’s other children would be Juliet, Mary, and Jane. Built as a summer lodge, the 20,000 square foot home contains thirty-five rooms, and sixteen additional buildings for its Loma Farms to result in a full 5,180 acres, with 3.6 miles of Lake Superior shoreline. The lodge itself was built of Idaho pine from Oregon. Nearly three hundred workers were involved in the lodge’s construction.

The size of everything in the lodge is astounding. The fireplace in the Great Room is large enough to hold four foot logs. The garage was built to hold twenty-four automobiles with room above it for twenty-four male servants. Above the laundry are rooms for twenty-four female servants. Even more impressive is the décor. Rustic Northwoods and Indian motif themes are notable throughout. All the original furniture was handcrafted by imported Norse craftsmen. Beds, chairs, and tables are made of white pine. The Great Room’s chandelier is made from a large pine stump. Birchwood and bark line the bedroom walls.

The Kaufmans had no trouble attracting guests to the lodge when it was finished. George Gershwin himself picked out the grand piano (another would be chosen by Gershwin for Kaufman auditorium in the Graveraet School). Other famous visitors included Lionel Barrymore, Mary Pickford, Fred Astaire, Cole Porter, Alma Gluck, and Irene Castle. Entire Broadway troupes would come to entertain, complete bands would be transported here so the guests could dance, and a hundred guests at a time would descend on the lodge to go hunting and fishing.

Meanwhile, the Loma Farms flourished with thirty purebred Guernsey cows, two hundred Yorkshire pigs, one hundred fifty cows and race horses, and six hundred chickens. Mr. Kaufman even had polo ponies which he took with him each winter when he went to Florida.

When Mr. Kaufman died in 1942, his son Otto Young Kaufman continued to operate the farm until 1947 when it closed. Mrs. Kaufman died in 1956 in Monte Carlo. In her will, she left bequests to all her daughters and $80,000,000 in trust until the death of her last surviving daughter. The lodge was inherited by her daughter Marie Joan Kaufman and her husband Jack Martin.

Joan Kaufman, as she was more commonly known, had several failed marriages before she married Jack Martin and inherited the lodge. The Kaufmans, being a banking family, naturally came into contact with the Biddle banking family of Philadelphia. Anthony Drexel Biddle would be known as “The Happiest Millionaire” with a film of that name based on his eccentric life. His nephew, George Drexel Biddle, son of his brother Craig Biddle, would be Joan’s first husband. They were married in 1926 when George was twenty-three and Joan only nineteen. The marriage lasted several years, resulting in two daughters, Daisy Laura Biddle and Lou Ann Biddle, and a son, Drexel Biddle. Drexel would be born at Granot Loma.

For whatever reason, the Biddle marriage did not last, and Joan would go through a string of husbands, although she would have no more children. She married a man named Polk, divorced him, then married him again. She also married a man named Winterstien who was apparently a bully. Then in 1941, she embarked on her short-lived marriage to W.F. Ladd Jr. Her fifth divorce would be her last one. By 1946, she wed her sixth husband while still only thirty-nine years old.

Jack Martin had started working at Granot Loma in 1938 as a barn boy or laborer, but soon he was travelling with Mr. and Mrs. Kaufman to New York and became close with the family. Like Joan, he had a history of divorces. He divorced his first wife about the time he went to work for the Kaufmans and married his second wife, Mary Lou Ellis, a young girl who worked at the farm. After Joan Kaufman divorced Mr. Ladd, she became jealous of Mary Lou, even calling the police to have her put off the property at one point. In 1946, Jack Martin divorced his second wife and married Joan. Jack and Joan would stay together the rest of their lives—nearly thirty years.

My grandfather, Lester White, worked at Granot Loma in the 1950s and my uncle Jay White accompanied him at times. My family has several photographs which my grandpa took of the farm buildings from this time. During these visits, my Uncle Jay became friends with Joan Kaufman’s son, Drexel Biddle. My mother recalls Drexel visiting my grandparents in the 1950s to see my uncle. One year my grandmother gave Drexel an Easter basket, which he really thought was splendid. I guess millionaire’s children don’t get Easter baskets.

After Joan Kaufman died in 1975, her husband Jack inherited the estate until his death in 1982. Then, Granot Loma was sold outside of the Kaufman family. Already in the 1970s, famed boxer Mohammed Ali had considered purchasing it, and Gerald Ford had thought about buying it to serve as his Michigan-based Western White House. The lodge was bought instead by Mr. L. Tom Baldwin, a bond trader and investor from Chicago for $4,255,000. After Baldwin made extensive repairs, he put it on the market again for $12,000,000 in 1990. When there were no takers, he continued to own the house as a vacation home to get away from the stress of the New York stock exchange. Today, he resides at Granot Loma full-time while operating his business. What better place to work from home?

________________________________________________

Tyler R. Tichelaar is a seventh generation resident of Marquette and the author of several historical fiction novels, including The Marquette Trilogy, as well as the history book My Marquette: Explore the Queen City of the North. Learn more about him and his books at www.MarquetteFiction.com

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56 Comments on “Fabulous Granot Loma”

  1. Justin Says:

    Very cool. I had the pleasure of hearing Mr. Baldwin speak at NMU a few years ago about his work as a bond trader. He mentioned his house on Lake Superior but I had no idea this was it.

  2. Susan Says:

    Tyler, I loved your story! Is Granot Loma available to rent for lodging? I’m updating my book Michigan’s Town and Country Inns for the 5th edition, but I can’t find any contact information for the lodge. Thanks!
    Susan Newhof

  3. Mike Martin Says:

    What a treat. Thanks for the trip back. Jack Martin was my uncle. His brother George, my dad, did some electrical work on the lodge back in the late seventies and I was his ‘gopher’. My dad and I also went fishing there. Jack would also have the relatives up for family get togethers, much of it around the pool. The lodge and property are fantastic and all of the family had a great time. It was a shame that it had to be sold when he died, but i am grateful that I got to go there thirty plus years ago.


    • Hi Mike,

      Thank you for the comment. How nice to hear from a relative of the former owner. I can imagine you must have many wonderful stories about the lodge. You’ll be happy to know that Granot Loma is one if not the number one search term people are using to come to my website so interest in it continues to be strong.

      Best wishes,
      Tyler

  4. Jack Eiman Says:

    Some corrections: My mother, Daisy Laura Biddle was the only child born at Granot Loma. Her sister was Tamia Biddle. There is an island off the coast of the property called Daisy Island.


    • Hi Jack,
      Thank you for reading my blog and the corrections. I’m always happy to hear from family members who can give me extra information. If I ever publish another edition of my book, I’ll have that information corrected about who was born there. I had no idea about the island–very neat. Happy Holidays!

    • Gerald Pieti Says:

      I’m really glad to hear that you are the child of one of the Biddle children, your mother Daisy must have been the sister of my friend Drexel, who I guess might have been born about 1935?
      In ’62 he took me on a tour through Granot Loma. We paused in the ‘birch room’ and he said it was the room he was born in.
      We had tea in Joan’s farm house. Bob Martin opened the house for us.
      After all of these years I’m curious.

      Are you in contact with Drexel? Is he still alive?

      Best regards,

      Gerald Pieti
      geraldpieti@me.com

  5. Ben Colman Says:

    Tyler,
    I recall reading a piece in Architectural Record or Architectural Digest a while back, can’t recall which one, that talked about the construction of Granot Loma. The piece stated that it was built around a bronze substructure, the front door was massive, but so well balanced it would move with the push of a finger. I also recall reading that the plans for the Empire State building were finalized there. Are you familiar with those facts? Do you by chance have a reference to the article I mention?

    Thanks from an interested Michigander.

    Ben Colman


    • Hi Ben,
      Thanks for the comment. I think you’re referring to a 1995 issue of Architectural Digest. It’s quoted briefly at: http://www.privateislandsonline.com/islands/granot-loma-lodge-and-island
      I did not know about the bronze substructure or door you mention. Unfortunately, I’ve never had the privilege of visiting it. Louis Kaufman was a principal financier, however, of the Empire State Building, so it’s likely the plans were finalized there at Granot Loma.

      Thanks for reading my blog.

      Best wishes,

      Tyler Tichelaar

      • Ben Colman Says:

        Thanks for the quick reply, Tyler. I’ll do a bit of digging for the bronze substructure info. Maybe we can wangle a visit.

        Ben

  6. Chris Desi Says:

    Lucian Thomas Baldwin III is a bond trader investor and founder of the Baldwin Group of companies. He was described by the Wall Street Journal as the trader who can singlehandedly move the Treasury bond market. His preferred instrument to trade is the 30-year bond in the pits of the Chicago Board of Trade.


    • Thanks for the additional information, Chris, and reading my blog.

    • Gerald Pieti Says:

      Thanks for the new insights about the Kaufman family.
      I met Drexel in the National Guard in Ishpeming and Grayling. He took me to Granot Loma where I met Joan and Jack Martin in ’62 at their farm house on the estate and she loaded Drexel with fresh vegetables from the garden.
      In Granot Loma he showed me the birch bark-lined room in which he was born. The two concert size Steinway grands were both in the center living room. I recall that he made a recording for St. Paul’s Church in ’63 for sale to the congregation, where I was serving as assistant organist under Alexander Hamby, who played the organ for Joan’s wedding to Anthony Biddle in the 30s.
      After another year he announced that he was moving to the East coast.
      In Fred Rydholm’s two volume Superior Heartland, a Backwoods History, he gives some family history of the Kaufman family and describes the building of the Empire State Building which continued despite the financial constraints of the Great Depression.
      Does anyone have news of Drexel?


      • Thank you for the comments, Gerald. I’m sorry to tell you that I believe Drexel passed away several years ago from what other readers have told me.

      • Gerald Pieti Says:

        Just to set the record straight about the pianos at Granot Loma, there were two interlocking full concert Steinway grands in the main reception room – the room with the huge walk-in fireplace. George Gershwin had selected them specially for LG. I was humbled to be allowed to play on them. The very keys that Gershwin had played!
        I was a new music graduate in piano in 1961


      • Thanks for the info, Gerald. I wonder whether there was one for Kaufman Auditorium then. I don’t believe it’s there anymore if it was.

      • Gerald Pieti Says:

        Hi Tyler
        Perhaps we can trace the year of arrival of the Steinway at Kaufman auditorium. The year I saw the two concert grands at Granot Loma was 1961 in the summer. Joan also had a Baldwin grand about 5 foot 10 in the farm house.
        Anyway perhaps one of the concert grands was taken to Graveraet after ’61?
        Who would know?


      • Hi Gerald,

        I’m not sure who would know anymore but I’ll ask around and let you know if I find an answer.

        Tyler

  7. JAN BOASE Says:

    IN THE 1980’S OUR GROUP KNOWN AS “ALLEGRO” PERFORMED THERE…WE WERE CONTACTED BY SAM COHODAS OF ISHPEMING AND ASKED IF WE WOULD DO A CONCERT THERE….THAT IS THE FIRST TIME ANY OF US HAD THE PLEASURE OF SEEING THE PLACE AND BEING THE ACCOMPANIST FOR THE GROUP, I HAD THE PLEASURE OF PLAYING THE BABY GRAND PIANO. IT’S AN EXPERIENCE NONE OF US WILL EVER FORGET!!! JAN BOASE , ISHPEMING, MICHIGAN.


  8. My brother Ethan ha worked for Tom Baldwin in this amazing place! Our family knows him personally and is a great guy along with his wife! Great story!


  9. My husband and I took our daughter, then 10 yrs old, for a ride on a fall day towards Big Bay to check out the colors. We drove down this road, by an old tattered sign,” barely making it out to be Granot Loma”. There were no signs that said “Private Road” so we drove a little ways,(1/4 mile) and stopped briefly to climb a hill to see the colors and the Lake view. We did see a sign that said “No Hunting”, but that too was worn out as to not be able to read very well.The next thing we knew there was a voice yelling at us that we were trespassing, and we needed to get down NOW!! we did exactly what they asked us to do, apparently not as fast as they wanted us to. (hard to move fast down the rocks, guiding a 10 yr old). Suddenly we encountered about 5 people, the leader being a Rambo type guy, and even though we were doing exactly what they asked us to do, he thought he’d use his great power to “bring us down with FORCE”. As he was rushing us down the hill, my husband asked him to not be so FORCEFUL, as he was scaring our daughter significantly and causing it too be dangerous at a high speed. He ended up knocking our camera from my husbands hand,shouted out some more “orders” intermingled with great profanity, and continued to force us the rest of the way down to the road to our car. When we said that we did not see a sign that said “No Trespassing”, his answer was, “well this isn’t YOUR property, now is it”! An older man that was with his entourage came to our car after we got in and apologized for the way we were treated.
    While it is fascinating to hear the history of this famous property and the people who owned and now own it, I am sorry to say that my only experience of Granot Loma was very traumatizing to my whole family. We contacted the police to make a complaint and the officer we talked to said that there’s an old saying, “there is no LAW north of the Yellow Dog”, so chances are nothing would be done about it. i hope that Mr Baldwin, if he’s still the owner, sees this comment and is aware that this kind of thing is happening, as I am sure that we were not the only people who were treated this way!! It’s been at least 15 yrs ago and we still cannot go to Big Bay without remembering what happened and having that unpleasant memory hit us in the face all over again!


  10. I met Drexel Biddle,as best I can recall, in 1959. Sometime during that summer, or possibly the summer of 1960, he invited me to accompany him to the lodge to go horse back riding. Upon taking the horses out of the barn, however, the black flies attacked the horses and we had to return them to the barn. We then went into the lodge and there encountered his mother Joan, who was playing one of the Steinways located in the main gathering room of the lodge. Sitting on one end of the piano’s music rack was a cocktail glass with a martini in it. As one story goes, Joan loved martinis and drank many of them. People who knew her well referred to her (behind her back) as “martini poo”. Drexel introduced me to his mother and then we left her and toured areas of the lodge.

    Shortly after Joan’s death, a short article appeared on the front page of the Mining Journal, referring to 80 million dollars that was left to 23 relatives, 5 of whom were contesting the will for a greater share of the money.

    Someone asked in one of the above comments about Drexel’s whereabouts. If my memory hasn’t failed me, I recall reading of his death just a few years ago.


    • Hi John,
      Thanks for reading my blog and for your memories. I had not heard the “martini poo” nickname before. Yes, I understand Drexel has passed away.
      Best wishes,
      Tyler Tichelaar

    • Newhofcollins@aol.com Says:

      Tyler, thank you for sending the comments about Granot Loma. I’ve enjoyed reading peoples’ memories of their visits to the mansion. What a legend of a place! I wanted to let you know that the 5th edition of my book Michigan’s Town & Country Inns was released. Several inns in the UP are featured: Sand Hills Lighthouse Inn, Thunder Bay Inn, Celibeth House, Chamberlin’s Ole Forest Inn, Laurium Manor and Victorian Hall, and the Boardwalk Inn. Are you interested in reviewing it? If you are, send me your mailing address and I’ll ask the publisher (University of Michigan Press) to send you a copy. All the best, Susan

  11. lori Says:

    hello, i found this after looking up granot loma, my husband had to deliver a package to the lodge today and i got to ride with, it was amazing, i didnt even know it was there, so breathtaking in october, all i was able to see was the farm and the outside of the lodge but amazing. and i had to look up the history of this place.


    • Hi Lori,
      So glad you got to visit this marvelous place, even if just from the outside. It really does have quite the history. I’m glad I could give you more information about it.
      Tyler

      • Gerald Pieti Says:

        As to Huron Mountain Club I recall Abby Roberts saying that Henry Ford’s membership application had been sidelined several times before he was finally accepted. (They were dreading the ostentatious show of his wealth). When he arrived it was in a Lake Carrier bearing his name.


      • Thanks for the comment, Gerald. Yes, I’ve also heard it took Henry Ford quite a while to get accepted.

  12. Wendy M Kaufman Says:

    Tyler,
    I was very impressed with the accuracy your article and coming across it has brought back so many memories for me. Growing up with my brothers, Michael and Garrett both on the Farms and in the Lodge has been nothing short of extraordinary. With the passing of my older brother Michael 2 years ago, reading this had been bittersweet however it does bring back the times we used to play within the rooms of the lodge before Mr Baldwin purchased and renovated the place.
    Thank you for your beautiful writings on the Upper Peninsula
    Keep Them Coming


    • Hi Wendy,
      Thank you for your comment. I feel honored that you enjoyed reading my article and I’m glad to know it is accurate. Thank you for sharing your memories. I will definitely continue to write about the UP and its history.
      Best wishes,
      Tyler Tichelaar


  13. Tyler;
    We met when I was working as a custodian at the First United Methidist Church. I dug out an article about the church to show you, and it turned out you had writen it.
    I remember visting the farm and barns as a kid. My dad was a good freind of Jack Martins. He was always pumping Jack and Joan for info for his writing. I remember being inpressed with the number of blue ribons on the barn walls. Floor to cieling.

    Fred Kim Rydholm

  14. Megan Says:

    I lived at Granot Loma for 7 years in one of the additional houses because my parents were the caretakers for tom and Karen. I don’t really remember much but I remember the movie theater room and the huge kitchen with the walk in freezer that I was always afraid I would get trapped in. I thought everything was really scary and I thought Louis Kaufman was haunting the house. Whenever something was lost I swore it was his ghost. I had a favorite stuffed animal (I lived there when I was young) and one time it was missing and I swore he stole it but I later found out Lucian either threw it away or burned it so yea.

  15. Terrlyn Wright Says:

    Tyler, Any chance us ordinary folks could ever have a tour of this historical place? What a delightful tour this would be!!


    • I don’t think there have ever been tours – it would be up to the owner since it’s privately owned. It might be something to suggest to the Marquette Regional History Center as a fundraiser to coordinate – they’ve done that with Ives Lake at the Huron Mountain Club.


  16. […] Huron Mountain Club, possibly due to his Jewish or Native American ancestry. His response: Granot Loma, whose 26,000-square-foot main lodge is now the “largest log cabin in the […]

  17. Robert Sisson Says:

    Love the now 4 year old article on the property and the fact you continue to engage in comments left here. The Easter basket story…could it be he’d never received one because he was Jewish?


    • Hi Robert,
      I guess that’s possible, but I don’t think it’s likely. Despite the rumors, I don’t think anyone has ever confirmed there was Jewish blood in the Kaufman family. And I don’t know what the Biddle family’s religion was at the time, but they were from Pennsylvania and had definite Quaker roots. Still, an interesting possibility. Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Tyler

  18. Steve Van Vyve Says:

    Not so much a comment, but just wondering. Some time in the early 1960’s I read an article in a magazine included with the Sunday paper (most likely the Detroit News) about I’m sure it was Granot Loma. I don’t remember if it was on the market or was taken over for taxes. Basically it talked about the farm the home and the boat house under the home. It also talked about a small play village for the kids and a narrow gauge railroad that was built to bring folks and supplies to the home since there were no roads. The article mentioned furniture and rugs made by American Indians. The home was furnished but was in bad shape from neglect and the Lake Superior storms that battered it and the boat house under the home. I believe it was for sale for 1 million. Am I all wet in what I seem to remember?

    Steve

  19. Mark Rose Says:

    Question for Tyler,
    are you related to a Richard Tichelaar? My brother worked Section crew with a Richard working for CNW RR out of Ishpeming in the 70s? mrose1@chartermi.net


    • Hi, Mark. Yes, Richard is my father – hence, my middle name is Richard.

      • Beau Says:

        2016 and your blog is still being enjoyed…hope that Powerball thing pans out so I can buy the castle from Tom, and get the farm producing again. Did Tom win his lawsuit with the power company about the turbine safety apparatus? Great stuff!


      • Thanks for the comment, Beau. I honestly never heard anything more about that lawsuit after the initial coverage a few years back.

  20. Ashley Watson Says:

    I have had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Baldwin personally at his home. My brother owns an auto detailing shop and we had the pleasure of detailing his boat on location of his home. He was even nice enough to take my brother and I on a tour of his cabin to see all the common living areas. Really nice guy and a REALKY nice home. I loved it. It was just like being in a historical museum.


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