(Judy Rose /Detroit Free Press) - This astounding estate on northern Michigan's Mullett Lake is the most expensive house listed for sale now in the state, according to www.moveinmichigan.com. It's a "Great Gatsby"-esque pastiche of sprawl, detail, grandeur and site - the creation of the late Detroit entrepreneur Peter Paisley.
The mansion was built in 1990 on 28 private acres outside Cheboygan. It sits on a long land point into Mullett Lake, surrounded by water on three sides. So residents view the sun's rise over the lake from one side of the house and the sun's setting into the lake on the other.
"It was my husband's project. It was his dream to build this home," Beverly Paisley says.
For boaters on the 10-mile lake, the estate is a landmark. But from dry land, you cannot get a glimpse. What's visible is a handsome entrance of stone and iron gates, then a quarter-mile drive through a red pine forest.
"You could buy a big mansion in Bay Harbor," says Realtor Chris Edwards, "and all your country club neighbors would be in sight of your door. This is a different kind of a retreat - if you're a billionaire and you don't want to be found."
But the Paisleys let themselves be found a lot. Beverly Paisley says they loved to host friends and family there with a guest house plus 10 bedrooms. "We've had like 30 people."
Enabling their hospitality is the large walk-in pantry. Shelves reach so high that a 10-step library ladder rolls around a ceiling track to access the high spots. The kitchen is totally commercial, she says, including a built-in french fryer and a commercial dishwasher that cleans a load in three minutes.
Peter Paisley built model ships and brought that love of detail to his house. Most rooms are covered with exaggerated trim, carving and fretwork. The reading room walls are wood carved on site into indigenous animals of Michigan, as well as indigenous plants, "sunflowers, poison ivy, trillium," she says. One office is entirely birds-eye maple.
Because her husband liked ice cream, the handsome wood and leaded-glass bar is actually three-quarters soda fountain, she says.
The estate's guest house is a dramatic circular gazebo with a white, curving wrought-iron staircase down to the grounds. There's also a carriage house filled with "huge tractors, bulldozers - his toys," she says.
A wood shed holds logs and a log splitter for the four natural fireplaces. When the Paisleys' eight grandsons visit, they like to split firewood. Accommodations include a caretakers' apartment and an in-law apartment.
With her husband gone, Beverly Paisley still loves their house, but wants to scale back. She will split the 28-acre site into two lots and ask the same architect to design a similar, smaller new home for herself.
Click here to see more photos of the Mullet Lake mansion.