The magnolias bloomed early at 10207 Lake Shore Blvd. seven years ago. Their vibrant pink plumage heralded Judith
VanAntwerp's first visit to the historic, 1890 Colonial Tudor in Bratenahl that she and her husband, thoracic surgeon Dr. David P. Mason, would inevitably buy.
"I had just found out I was having totally healthy twin babies," she remembers. "And we found out they were twin girls. It gives me goose bumps. ... I was like, This house has got to be mine."
It was love at first sight.
"The grandeur of this place, I love it," says VanAntwerp, a pediatric anesthesiologist at Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital. She points to an ancient sliding lock connecting the top and bottom half of the oversized front Dutch door. "It's hand-stamped 1827," she says. "Look at it. Could there be anything more amazing? When people come, when we have a party, I always leave it open."
It's a symbol of how inviting the 8,700-square-foot home — a real, lived-in, family space crawling with four kids under the age of 8 — actually is. But there's a more practical reason too: the view.
It was VanAntwerp's only request when they moved to Cleveland: She wanted to live on Lake Erie.
The Great Lake is the first thing visitors see when they cross the threshold. A wall of windows in the foyer frames a high-definition view of endless blue. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, to break the line of sight.
"You can't mar a view like that," explains VanAntwerp. "It could be raining, gray, storming, snowing, sleeting, and I look out, and it's like, the mystery of the water changing."
Her eyes grow large as she tries to accurately convey this connection, this eternal thirst, to live alongside such a mercurial neighbor.
On this day, her children are celebrating a snow day, and they pingpong around as she leads her tour of the five-bedroom, six-bathroom home on 1.7 acres.
Family life drove the couples' renovation decisions, such as converting all five fireplaces to natural gas, updating knob-and-tube wiring and waiting a year to move in so they could properly remove any lingering lead.
But VanAntwerp's unflinching, unbridled passion for the home's character meant that not a vintage 19th-century detail was missed.
The second-floor crown-molding, for example, sits a fraction of an inch below the ceiling. But don't call it a mistake. "People are like, 'Oh my gosh, you have a gap,' " says VanAntwerp with a smile. "They're original: They're picture-hanging rails. You couldn't put a hammer or screw in. They had these brass hooks, with satin ribbon, and they hung the pictures." Although they replaced the wood-lathe and plaster walls with veneered drywall, they rehung the original molding.
Thoughtful upgrades included moving mechanicals from an anteroom adjoining the master bedroom to the third-floor attic, providing space for a walk-in closet and an en suite with heated travertine tiles and a freestanding tub (overlooking the lake, naturally). They added a bathroom for the girls, saved whatever they could and found vintage hardware online to replace what was missing.
Mason's single request was a gym, so VanAntwerp built out the space above the garage. They were about to embark on renovating the family room the previous owners added, when Mason found out he'd been tapped as chief of thoracic surgery and lung transplantation at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas. The home, currently for sale, is listed at $1.5 million.
When asked if she's worried about the home's next owners, she sighs. "Please don't gut it," she says. "It's a treasure."
The couple tore out thousands of feet of dingy carpeting, which had covered glorious, original oak and pine floors with extravagant quartersawn planks sprinkled throughout. Traditionally cut logs produce around 40 planks, VanAntwerp explains, while quartersawn logs yield just seven or eight. Her favorite board, rippled like zebra skin, is on the landing. Everyone she tells has the same surprised response: "You have a favorite piece of wood plank in your house?" Her reply? "Yeah, it's really gorgeous. I hand-wash it."