605 Hillcrest Rd, Midland, MI
Designed by Alden B. Dow FAIA, 1954.
Joseph L. Sherk was the son of Dr. Joseph H. Sherk, the personal physician for Herbert H. Dow and his family. In 1954, Mr. Sherk acquired two lots from Alden B. Dow bordering the golf course of the Midland Country Club and commissioned him to design a home for his family. While there is no information on bids or contracts, documentation in the job files suggests the house cost approximately $50,000 to build.
From the street, the Sherk residence appears to be a simple single-story concrete block home. A flat roof covers the garage while a low-pitched roof caps a long block wall that encloses the upper living area. Along the top of the wall, the blocks are turned on end to create a row of narrow windows that accentuates the linear feel and brings light into the interior hallway behind it.
Upon entering the residence, the space opens to reveal a two-story structure set into a sloping lot. A wall of windows stretching 14 feet high at the back of the house brings the outdoors in and draws one into the dining room. A balcony overlooks the living room beneath the dining room. A screened porch is off the dining room and adjacent to a functional and convenient galley kitchen. The walls in these areas are exposed block and brick, with edge grain fir woodwork and plastic tile flooring.
Also on the entry level are three bedrooms and two bathrooms lined up in a row in the private wing. All the bedrooms have windows that provide a view of the golf course and garden below. The master bedroom at the end of the hallway has large corner windows with a view of its own private side garden.
In 1981, Mr. Sherk wrote a letter to Mr. Dow to express his gratitude to the architect for designing his home: “Suffice to say that I can stand, sit, or lie down anywhere in this house and find something beautiful and interesting to look at. That is a pleasant feeling, especially when you consider that I have been doing it for 26 years. I also know that I am proud to live here under this roof.”