GAYLORD — It has been a labor of love.
For nearly a year, Dr. Kristine Bobish and a dedicated team of architects, engineers, contractors construction workers, plumbers, electricians, painters and craftsman have put their hearts and souls into the restoration of the stately mansion at 101 E. Mitchell St.
Now the long-anticipated opening of Alpine Cardiology is making the doctor’s heart beat a little faster.
Perhaps it is fitting that a physician who focuses on compassionate care for her patients’ hearts has devoted herself to such an endeavor.
“This house fits my personality,” she said. “I like to spend time with my patients, talk to them, listen to them and give them a hug. Most doctors’ offices are scary and cold. I want people to feel like they are visiting my home.”
Bobish noted that she has always enjoyed the Victorian style and furniture, and the interior of Alpine Cardiology is decorated in keeping with the early 1900’s, including the woodwork, colors, furniture, carpet and all fixtures.
Dr. Bobish, D.O. is originally from Cheboygan, and has lived and practiced in Gaylord since 2009. She is board certified in cardiology and has physician privileges at Otsego Memorial Hospital, McLaren Northern Michigan in Petoskey, Munson Healthcare Grayling Hospital and Alpena Regional Medical Center. She the only board certified cardiac specialist who resides in Otsego County.
Early in 2015, she was searching for a place to open her private practice.
“I hunted for the best location and kept coming back to this site because I loved it,” she said. “It’s an old Victorian that needed to be loved again. It’s an icon in the community.”
The stately structure, known as the “Buck House,” was completed in 1901. It was built by Sanford W. Buck, who was a prominent and well-respected banker in Gaylord. His obituary in the July 19, 1923 edition of the Otsego County Herald and Times said that Buck “seemed as deeply rooted in the life of the community as the very trees surrounding his beautiful home.”
According to an architectural evaluation found on the Otsego County Historical Society website:
“This home historically had all the elements of the elaborate, turreted Queen Anne most people mistakenly call ‘Victorian.’ The home had a wraparound porch with turned columns and spindlework (or gingerbread), as well as lacelike brackets. To date, the home still displays it’s most enticing features: the turrets. However, the rooftop turret has been reconstructed in fashion that is not in keeping with the original. Regardless, the S.W. Buck house is Gaylord’s most intact example of a Spindlework Queen Anne.”
Phil Alexander of the Otsego County Historical Society said Bobish’s project fulfills part of the mission of the society, which is to encourage the preservation of the county’s historic buildings.
“I think it’s a great thing, and it looks great; they’ve done a wonderful job,” he said. “It will help make Center Street look like it did 100 years ago.”
Bobish began her mission to transform the Buck House into Alpine Cardiology last summer.
She enlisted he professional skills of architect Brad Butcher from Sidock Group, Inc., along with contractor Nate Bartow from Bartow LLC., who managed the trades that provided services.
“Personally and professionally, Kristine has invested in this community,” Butcher said. “She persevered. Her vision shows a commitment to a property that sat dormant for so long — to repurpose it into something new. It is important to know that someone could take a city landmark and reimagine it in a way no one could imagine.”
Butcher said he was familiar with the property because Sidock Group had done some work onsite when it housed Jacob’s Well Church.
“I knew the house, so when Kristine called, it was exciting to know that we could revisit it,” he said. “This is by far the most unique historical project we’ve done.”
While taking into consideration modern-day necessities and recognizing that the building will be used as a medical facility, Butcher said every effort was made to keep it as historically accurate as possible without the aid of any original drawings.
Bobish also did her homework by visiting the Otsego County Historical Museum and meeting with Alexander.
“I did a lot of research,” Bobish said. “I bombarded Brad with pictures. Luckily, he has at his fingertips a whole team of engineers and architects.”
That team encountered the challenges that would be expected of a 115 year old, 5,400-plus-square-foot house that had been unoccupied for several years.
Butcher said the project first had to be reviewed and approved by the Gaylord Planning Commission.
“They were thrilled, “he said. “And the red roof is a nod to the Alpine theme. It’s like the roof of the Pavilion, the downtown restrooms and city hall.”
Butcher listed some of the many hurdles that presented themselves along the way.
Trees had to be cleared and the site reconfigured, the foundation had to be shored up, previous (20th Century) additions were demolished and reconstructed, the infrastructure, including all mechanicals, electrical and plumbing was upgraded from top to bottom, the windows were replicated and replaced, and the characteristic turret was recreated to its original design with help from an old photograph that Bobish discovered.
Butcher noted that in addition, two log cottages on the property were moved several miles away to Bobish’s home in Gaylord.
Butcher said the wholehearted efforts of a dedicated group of people who shared a common goal made such an extensive project possible — and rewarding.
“The most rewarding part is the relationship,” he said. “It becomes strong when one of you has an emotional commitment to a project and one has the more practical view.It has certainly been an adventure. Probably 30 to 40 percent of people in Gaylord drive by the house every day, and they have watched it blossom, wilt and now re-bloom.”
Bobish said she especially liked seeing her dream become reality and also the “surprises” that surfaced during construction.
“I liked getting the project from paper to this — from 2D to 3D; and I enjoyed finding the relics and things in the house while excavating,” she said.
The doctor has gathered an interesting assortment of found objects — most from around the turn of the last century — that includes a newspaper from 1898, a book of bible verses, ink bottles, a belt buckle, an empty toothpaste box (complete with instructions) and several buttons. She plans to display the collection in the Alpine Cardiology office.
Bobish said in the future she would like to see Alpine Cardiology become a place for community events and educational programs. She also hopes to inspire others to consider renovating Gaylord’s historic “gems.”
“We want to set the example for Gaylord, to fix up these beautiful old houses,” she said. “It’s been fun, I’d do it again, and I hope my patients love the office setting here in the heart of Gaylord.”