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      ANCESTRAL ACRES

LODGE
 
 
 
History of Ancestral Acres Lodge
  The Ezra E. and Florence (Holmes) Beardsley Mansion as in 1888

 If the walls of the old Beardsley house could talk, they would recount a story of elegance and luxury which once characterized this old mansion. When Ezra Beardsley came to Bronson in 1871 he purchased 1100 acres of land and built his elaborate 15 room home which became known as "The Evergreens". Here he brought his bride, Florence A.Holmes, for whose family Holmes Road is named.The 15 room home was built around 1878 and was one of the loveliest showplaces in Branch County. The Beardsley home was the center of social events in the area. They subsequently had two children, Walton and Jessie, who never married and lived in the home until their deaths in the 1960's. Three of the home's five fireplaces dominate the first and second parlors and the dining room, and photographic images of Walton and Jesse are reproduced in the tiles surrounding the first parlor fireplace. A complete bathroom (uncommon for the 1870's) with running water featured a tin lined copper tub and marble washstand.  An unfinished "ballroom" occupied the entirety of the third floor.

The Ezra E. Beardsley farm northwest of Bronson on Holmes Road was a fine stock farm, known for its breeding and racing horses. Beardsley's consuming interest was in breeding fine race horses and racing them on his own track. Additional original buildings included a luxurious horse barn, several sheds, a chicken house and bunkhouse. After the passing of Walton and Jesse, John Placetka of Bronson purchased the home and 445 acres intending to restore the home. Those efforts failed and in 1968 the property was sold to Michael and Marjorie Berkman and her sister Cecile Edelstein. During the next 40 years, some restoration of the home was accomplished by the family, but weather and time severely hampered these efforts. After the passing of the Michael Berkman and Marjorie in 2007 and 2010, their son, William Berkman, a retired physician, undertook the restoration of this Queen Anne Mansion, in earnest, recently completing the immense undertaking in 5 years.

On April 20, 2015, the National Park Service, U.S.Department of Interior listed the Ezra E. and Florence (Holmes) Beardsley Home in the National Register of Historic Places. The National Register of Historic Places is the nation's official list of cultural resources worthy of preservation.  

During World War Two, Marjorie and Michael Berkman were stationed in Forth Monmouth, New Jersey, where Mr. Berkman participated in a specialized United States army engineering group tasked with the responsibility of developing techniques and manuals for the use and repair of radar for the defense of our country. The Berkmans lived on a one-acre farmette on the army base from 1941 through 1945, and after the war returned to Chicago.  
Fondly remembering their time in the country, Michael and Marjorie hoped to acquire a  small farm to continue their love of nature and gardening. During William's  childhood, his parents took many weekend excursions to search for their farm in Michigan or Wisconsin. William recalls from his early childhood, that his family saved pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters in a large turquoise "piggy bank"  which had the words inscribed "Ancestral Acres" with the intent to, someday, purchase a small farm. In the spring of 1968, William, then a college student at the University of Chicago, went along with his father, Michael,  on another journey to look this time at a "haunted " farm house, the "Old Beardsley Place", which was for sale. The family fell in love with this, then dilapidated home having no heat, no intact windows, no running water, no heating; shortly thereafter they purchased the"farm" and "home" to realize their dream for a place in the country. For forty years, Marjorie and Michael Berkman enjoyed prolonged weekends at the "farm" as they called it, had prize gardens, and enjoyed cooking delicious home cooked meals. The Berkmans shared the "country life" with many of their Chicago friends, and locals, alike, becoming well known and liked members of the Bronson community.  

Today, honoring his parents Michael and Marjorie Berkman, William Berkman has now unofficially re-named the Ezra E. and Florence (Holmes) Beardsley Historic Designated Home to be the Ancestral Acres Lodge.

 


Beardsley Home 1968

Old Beardsley barn

Beardsley Home 1968 south view

Old Beardsley barn second floor

Marjorie and Michael Berkman circa 1941 and their Fort Monmouth, New Jersey garden

For more information on the history and the restoration of Ancestral Acres Lodge, listen to Ken Delaney's March 23, 2017 interview with owner and manager,  Bill Berkman, on WTVB 95.5 FM's  "Delaney in the Morning" 

Beardsley Home​ 1968

Historical drawing of Ezra E. Beardsley's residence

 Press 
Download, The Daily Reporter January 2017  Inside Look article on Ancestral Acres Lodge,​ "A labor of love"

This article by Don Reid describes the 5 year restoration and history of  Ancestral Acres Lodge, with a personal accounting by the owner and manager William Berkman.

Download, The Daily Reporter April 19, 2017 review of the "After Business Hours" at Ancestral Acres Lodge 

This article by Karri Gruner describes the April 18, 2017 "After Hours" joint meeting of the Bronson,  Coldwater, and Sturgis Chambers of Commerce at the newly opened Ancestral Acres Lodge.

 Events
Paula Tucker of Paula Tucker Catering looks right at home in​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​  the completely renovated kitchen in the Ancestral Acres Lodge, the location of After Hours Chamber event for the month of April 2017
This after hours multi-chamber event showcased local caterers including Tasteful Kreations, Hip Padders Catering, Paula Tucker Catering, Pumpkin Vine Cafe, and Coffee from the Blue Hat Cafe.
Musical entertainment in the grand ballroom was provided by pianist Tamara Whitley Sterlini, as Chamber members enjoyed cocktails, delicious appetizers, and desserts.
GRAND BALL-ROOM FOR YOUR BIG EVENTS
Ancestral Acres Lodge hosted our first "Creating Art Together" painting party directed by Nicole Steele. Refreshments, creativity,  and fun were had by all
Ancestral Acres Lodge hosted our first "Creating Art Together" painting party, March 19, 2017 directed by Nicole Steele. Refreshments added to the fun.

We're looking forward to having another art event soon
Area Attractions

Activities:
Tibbitts Opera Theater, Coldwater, Michigan 515-278-6029 
Shipshewana Amish Country, Shipshewana, Indiana
Coldwater and Cemetary chain of lakes
Klinger Lake, (Sturgis, Michigan)  
Matteson Lake, Bronson, Michigan
Little River Railroad, Coldwater, Mi (kids) 517 227 5488
Antiquing in Coldwater, Allen Michigan, Allen Antique Barn and Mall, Hog Creek Mall 
Matteson and Gilead Lakes, Bronson
Butler Speedway, Quincy
Adventure Zone mini golf and go carts 517-278-9663
Amish expedition (map at coldwatercountry.com)
1800's Historical Districts, Coldwater
Short's Old fashioned Rootbeer, Coldwater (curbside drive in)
Amish shopping in Quincy, Colon, Burr Oak, Centerville, Shipshewana
Michigan International Speedway, (Nascar) Brooklyn, Mi
Butler Motor Speedway, Quincy, Mi
Log Road Motocross, Bronson
Michigan Vineyards
Quincy Marble Lake Park (Picnic facilities and public beach)
Fawn River Kayak Guide and Rental 269-625-0733
Boat and personal watercraft rentals on Coldwater Lakes
R.W.B. Aquatic Center 517-279-5920,
Coldwater Memorial Park (picnicking and swimming beach)
Coldwater Country Visitor Guide
Sturgis activities  guide

Movie Theaters:
Capri Drive-in theater, Coldwater, Michigan
NGC Coldwater Movie Theaters 

Sporting Events:
Notre Dame Football (52 miles to stadium), South Bend, Indiana
Hillsdale College (32 miles), Hillsdale,

Community Events:
Civil War Days, Coldwater, May 26-28
MichiganCar cruise block party, Coldwater (May 13, 2017)
Strawberry Festival June 17, 2017, Coldwater
Sturgis Fest June 17-25, 2017
Magic festival August 2-5  July 19-22  Colon, Michigan
Art Walk, Coldwater(to be scheduled)
MagiCelebration,  July 19-22, Colon, Michigan
Polish Festival Days, Bronson.  July 20-22, 2017
Branch County 4-H Fair August 6-12, 2017
US-12 Michigan's Longest Yard Sale  August 11-13
Apple Fest Sept 16, 2017, Coldwater

Recurrent Events:
Entertainment under the Stars (Tuesday Evenings in July) Coldwater
Farmers Market, Coldwater (Saturdays June 24-Sept 9)
Bronson Farmer's Market every Saturday 8-noon
Antique & Collectible Markets St. Joseph Fairgrounds, Centerville, Mi:  May 14, July 9, August 13, 2017
Movie in the Park, Quincy 517-741-3050
Music in the Park Quincy

Golf and tennis:
Bella Vista Golf Course
Blackberry Patch Golf Club
Klinger Lake Country Club
Coldwater and Sturgis City Parks

Museums:
Children’s Museum of Branch County, Coldwater
Wing House Museum, Coldwater 517-278-2871
Little River Railroad Museum, Coldwater
Quincy Museum Masonic Temple, Coldwater

Restaurants:
Bronson: Bill’s Steak House, Smitty’s Pizza, Matteson Street Bar and Grill

Coldwater: Blue Hat Cafe, Stoagies, (breakfast and lunch), Bill’s Grill House 
Applebee’s, Allen’s Root Beer Drive-in (old fashioned drive in )
Jeannie’s Diner (breakfast), Willows Bar and Grill (on the water), Broadway, Northwoods Coffee Company, JT's Bar  & Grill, Los Tequilas, El Cerrito, Oscar Brown's 
tavern, The Goodie Shop (breakfast)

Sturgis: Boundary Waters Café, El Taco Loco, Davinci’s, China Garden, Corner Cafe, Maria's, Prarie Lake Tavern, Great Lakes Chocolate and Coffee Co., 

    

Link to Tibbitts
Shipshewana Link
Klinger Lake Life Link
Link to Visitors Bureau
Link to Sturgis