Thanks to Crains Grand Rapids for this:

The Reenders family of Grand Haven built this 8,000-square-foot French country-style home on Lake Michigan in 1998 and are now selling it for $8.1 million. Credit: The Sandi Gentry Team of Re/Max Lakeshore

The third generation of a prominent real estate family in the Grand Haven area is selling their late parents’ 8,000-square-foot mansion built in the French country style with antiques and materials sourced from their global travels.

The children of the late Howard and Barbara Reenders on Jan. 11 listed the couple’s seven-bedroom, seven-bathroom home tucked away on a private drive in Grand Haven Township for $8.1 million. Sandi Gentry, of The Sandi Gentry Team of Re/Max Lakeshore, is their broker.

Howard Reenders, who died Nov. 7 following his wife’s death in 2019, was the second-generation leader of a Grand Haven-based real estate development business founded in 1946 by his father, Arthur Reenders. Over time, the business grew to include Heritage Senior Communities, which has 18 senior and assisted-living communities in Michigan and Indiana, as well as the construction and real estate development firm Reenders Inc. and Heritage Property Management.

Aerial view of Lake Michigan home
The estate includes 5.3 acres and 330 feet of Lake Michigan beach frontage. Credit: The Sandi Gentry Team of Re/Max Lakeshore

The Reenders bought the property in 1972. It included a 1940s-era cottage that the couple eventually tore down. They built the current mansion in 1998 to accommodate their ever-growing family of children, grandchildren and now great-grandchildren.

Scott Reenders, one of the Reenders’ six children who is president of Heritage Property Management, told Crain’s Grand Rapids Business the home has been wonderful for family gatherings over the years but the next generation is ready to part with it.

“Everybody’s settled into their own lives and their own homes, and that’s really why we’re selling the property, even though it’s spectacular,” he said.

The home features four garage stalls — one attached to the house and the other three connected to the front door by a porte-cochère. Credit: The Sandi Gentry Team of Re/Max Lakeshore

A well-appointed, year-round home

The 8,042-square-foot house, which was built to be lived in year-round, includes a secluded 5.3 acres and 330 feet of private beachfront, a three-stall garage connected to the east end of the house via a porte-cochère, and a fourth stall attached to the north side of the house.

The mansion has four outdoor terraces, French-style landscaping and a family-oriented basement with concrete floors for sandy beach-day feet and two changing rooms.

The basement features concrete floors for sandy beach-day feet and two changing rooms, plus plenty of room for family gatherings. Credit: The Sandi Gentry Team of Re/Max Lakeshore

The house boasts two kitchens, two laundry rooms, a kitchen dinette area and a formal dining room that flows into a large open-plan living room with a fireplace, a den with a fireplace, a main-floor primary suite, and six more bedrooms upstairs, four of which have attached full bathrooms.

Scott Reenders said he and his siblings are selling the home unfurnished but would entertain offers on certain pieces that don’t have sentimental value.

The gardens were patterned after estates in the South of France and in Beverly Hills, Calif. Credit: The Sandi Gentry Team of Re/Max Lakeshore

An American-French pastiche

Howard Reenders was a builder, and Barbara Reenders was an interior designer in the family business, and they took their style inspiration from traveling all over the world.

According to Scott Reenders, the home and its gardens were patterned after “fine French homes” they saw while traveling through the south of France, as well as a trip to the historic Doheny Greystone Estate in Beverly Hills, Calif.

They hired French architect and family friend Ralph Fournier, more commonly known for his mid-century designs in St. Louis, to design this house in 1997. Fournier also designed their other French Provincial-style home where the Reenders raised their children in Grand Haven in 1965.

The home has a lofty and ornate style, with antiques collected from the couple’s travels. Credit: The Sandi Gentry Team of Re/Max Lakeshore

Dennis Reenders, president of Reenders Inc., oversaw the team that built this house. For the exterior, they used rubble limestone mined in the Upper Peninsula, brick, and limestone balustrades, as well as a slate roof and zinc-coated copper gutters and downspouts.

Barbara Reenders did the interior design, collecting special architectural pieces in her travels across the country over a period of several years to complete the look, Scott Reenders said.

The bronze door weighs 3,000 pounds but glides opens weightlessly, according to Scott Reenders. Credit: The Sandi Gentry Team of Re/Max Lakeshore

They salvaged the 3,000-pound bronze front door from one of the Dodge estates in the Detroit area when it was torn down. The fireplace mantel in the den was salvaged from a chateau in France and purchased in Atlanta.

Barbara Reenders also transferred over some of the 1960s and ’70s light fixtures from their first French-inspired home to this house, including the Tiffany-style hanging fixture in the dinette and the French art glass in the primary bedroom.

The main living area features excellent views and a salvaged limestone fireplace. Credit: The Sandi Gentry Team of Re/Max Lakeshore

They also purchased antique fixtures for many rooms in the house.

The living room has a limestone fireplace mantel, and the lower-level family room mantel is supported by two lion heads salvaged from a building in the Chicago area.

“They sourced stuff from really all over the country, because that was kind of their hobby,” Scott Reenders said.

The couple also supported local craftsmen in their design. All interior doors of the home were built at a Zeeland millwork company, and the cabinetry was custom built and finished locally.

The kitchen’s top-of-the-line appliances were chosen with cooking for large groups in mind. Credit: The Sandi Gentry Team of Re/Max Lakeshore

Modern amenities

The home is heated and cooled with a geothermal system, thanks to freon lines buried in the yard, Scott Reenders said. He called it a “sophisticated” system that was ahead of its time.

Also ahead of its time was the large kitchen, which is equipped with a Sub-Zero refrigerator, a large range with double ovens, two dishwashers, an expansive island with bar stools and an open-plan layout that flows into the dinette, which overlooks a shady covered terrace.

Scott Reenders said the kitchen/dinette/terrace trio remains one of his favorite spots in the house.

The dinette and connected terrace were well-loved by the sellers. Credit: The Sandi Gentry Team of Re/Max Lakeshore

“My mom was a good cook, and they also liked to entertain, so we spent a lot of time sitting around the kitchen table,” he said. “And also, the terrace off the kitchen was a gorgeous little covered area that you could enjoy seven months out of the year because it was out of the elements.”

His other favorite spot, and one of the most-used by the family, was the den, with its large French mantel and gas-starter fireplace that burns wood, like all the home’s fireplaces.

“It’s just a really cozy, warm room,” he said.

The den has a warm and cozy feel, according to Scott Reenders. Credit: The Sandi Gentry Team of Re/Max Lakeshore

The family used the main living room and formal dining room for entertaining large groups of friends, while the basement — with its space for several long, informal tables — was typically the center of extended family gatherings.

Scott Reenders said the couple designed their home with aging in place in mind, as all the doors are extra wide, and the primary bedroom suite is on the main floor.

The main-floor primary suite offers sweeping views of Lake Michigan. Credit: The Sandi Gentry Team of Re/Max Lakeshore

He added that the primary suite was built as a “sanctuary overlooking Lake Michigan.”

“It’s quite amazing that you can lie in bed and look at the lake,” he said.

The suite features a jacuzzi bath, large 5-foot-by-7-foot shower, massive walk-in closet/dressing room with custom-built drawers and shelving, and heated floors.

A door off the bedroom leads to a “secret garden” for enjoying morning coffee, and it is secured with a gate from the Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Fla.

The Reenders enjoyed morning coffee in a “secret garden” adjoining their bedroom suite. Credit: The Sandi Gentry Team of Re/Max Lakeshore

The price point

Gentry, who specializes in high-end real estate, said this is her highest-priced residential listing ever, and only one other home in Grand Haven Township has sold for more. It was a 20-acre property with 800 feet of beachfront that another broker closed at $9 million in 2016.

“That (listing) kind of proves my number a little bit,” she said.

Gentry said she took into consideration all of the factors that go into making this a “one-of-a-kind” property when setting the list price, including the quality and that “no expense was spared.”

“They believe in quality and that is something they do not jeopardize,” she said. “(Howard Reenders) just went above and beyond with what he did. He found the perfect piece of property, carved out where he wanted the house to be (and) made sure it was very private. It’s just one of a kind.”

Scott Reenders said although the house hasn’t been substantially updated since it was built, everything is still in excellent condition.

“My parents were meticulous about taking care of everything, and it still looks practically brand-new,” he said. “And of course, for the most part, only two people lived in the house.”

18250 Spindle Drive

Grand Haven MI, 49417

Original Listing

The largest of the home’s four terraces overlooking Lake Michigan. Credit: The Sandi Gentry Team of Re/Max Lakeshore

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