Loving the House They’re In

By+Kathy Jonas

Mike and Eileen Lindburg knew they wanted their 1939 Harter Heights home to be more open, more filled with natural light and more spacious. They hired Architect Bill Jackson and Martin Brothers Contracting to build a 1,500 square-foot addition that would do just that. 


“It was a 1940s home designed for 1940s living,” according to Mike. “And we discovered that South Bend was a bit cloudier than we remembered.”


The Couple

Mike and Eileen moved to South Bend from Albany, New York, with the ultimate goal of retiring here. They wanted to live within walking distance of the University of Notre Dame and in 2007, bought a home in the historic neighborhood just south of the university. He’s an ND grad and she graduated from Saint Mary’s College. 


Both sold their respective businesses, but Mike ended up here first, attending the Master’s Program at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies. Eileen joined him in 2013 after selling her commercial real estate business. They have a daughter (ND Class of 2006) who lives in Brooklyn Heights, New York with her husband and daughter, and a son who attends Princeton University.


The Design

Jackson started to work designing an addition to the two-story home that represents the Streamline Moderne architectural style (a stripped-down style that followed Art Deco) and reflects industrial trends, including long horizontal lines, curving forms and technology. 


The addition incorporates some elements of Frank Lloyd Wright’s homes with horizontal windows, a move to bring nature indoors, and long, open living spaces.


Jackson faced the challenge of breaking up the home’s symmetry with such a large addition. The Lindburgs ended up buying the house next door and tearing it down­—the result being a brand-new space with lots of glass, clerestory windows, overhangs to allow as much light as possible, and recessed patio doors on both sides of the new living area to blur the separation between inside and outside. 


The Construction

Construction began in October of 2013 and the home was completed in June of 2014. At one point in the process, a basement was dug and a steel frame was constructed that was not attached to the original home. “It kind of looked like a Jiffy Lube if you squinted your eyes,” Jackson says, noting that the unusual sight got a lot of attention from the neighbors. 


The homeowners and architect credit Martin Brothers with doing a very good job executing the design and the vision. 


Jeff Martin, owner of Martin Brothers, says it was a difficult but extremely rewarding process. “As with any remodel, we needed to make sure everything flowed well from a structural and aesthetic standpoint,” he adds. “Our goal is to look like the addition has always been there.”


The original brick, which is the same color as the brick at ND (a beige, taupe mix) had to match the addition. Martin said Rose Brick brought in about six different colors for them to inspect and match despite the fact that the exact color of brick is not available anymore. 


As anyone who has undergone a major home construction project knows, it is not easy to live in the midst of organized chaos. “We had to cook on a hot plate in the living room and occasionally had no water on the first floor,” says Eileen. It was disruptive enough that at one point Jackson put them up in a condominium he owned.


A Few Details

The finished product is sleek yet comfortable, light and airy but also private, and full of customized, personal touches that make the addition so perfect for this transplanted family. 


While all the glass in the addition precludes a lot of art on the walls, a small darker gray-colored wall across from the kitchen accentuates a bright yellow painting by Peruvian artist Francesco Grippa. Mike and Eileen met him while on a boat trip down the Amazon River. Mike climbed into his Weasley-type Harry Potter-ish home and purchased two canvases, rolled them up and climbed back on the boat.


The kitchen is one of those that screams “entertain, entertain!” A large island has a soapstone countertop and granite perimeter as well as a stovetop with six burners and lots of storage underneath (now used for family photo albums). The other countertops are stainless steel for heavy-duty food prep. A glass shelving unit in the kitchen was designed to open up the area between the kitchen and the hallway and incorporate some design trends of the Streamline Moderne style. The kitchen floor is Marmoleum, a product used often in commercial buildings, that is soft yet very durable. 


The Ayr Custom Cabinetry includes perimeter maple cabinets while the island is a stained cherry. Both the island and perimeter are inset in style. 


The limestone fireplace in the main room was custom made in Chicago to match a French 1930s Streamline Moderne design. 


Eileen said she picked a flat finish for the Hickory floors in the main room, but when the look wasn’t exactly what she had in mind, a more satin-y finish was applied. Her previous larger, more traditional home in New York had cherry floors, but she wanted this home to be different in style and décor. 


The light shelves constructed in the main room allow the natural light to bounce off the shelves up to the ceiling, which is a nod to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Usonian homes.


Other features of the addition: an office for Eileen, a large pantry and laundry room with lots of storage and a backup refrigerator. “We kept having them build more storage,” says Eileen.


The End Result

While the Lindburgs have a few more features in mind for the home, including a pergola on one of the patios, it “feels” the way they intended it to feel. “We had the best Christmas of our lives here,” says Eileen. “Everyone was so happy.” 



South Bend Woodworks: From Scott Street to Pennsylvania Avenue

When Mike Lindburg went to the former College Football Hall of Fame and watched “end users” interact with his products, he knew he was selling something that consumers enjoyed.


Those consumers happened to be pre-school children playing with his wooden blocks, rocking horses, trains and puzzles. 


“It all started with a wooden toy I bought my granddaughter for $100. It was imported. I thought to myself, ‘why can’t we make this in the United States? People need jobs.’”


That was the beginning of South Bend Woodworks, a company on Scott Street that makes heirloom-quality toys and furniture. A 1971 University of Notre Dame graduate, Lindburg moved to South Bend in 2009 with absolutely no intention of starting a business. In fact, he had sold his company in New York and had his eye on retirement. 


South Bend Woodworks, which opened its doors in 2013, employs eight people, including veterans. Don Troxel, a well-respected woodworker and craftsman with more than 40 years of experience, is the director of design manufacturing and shop manager and came up with the prototype for many of the toys manufactured at the company. His son Don Jr., works there and Don Junior’s 10-year-old son has come up with toy designs. 


Lindburg has learned a few things during the past few years. “It is an expensive process to make good quality wood products. Labor is much higher here as we want people to be able to make a living wage,” he says. Making toys requires adhering to strict safety standards in terms of durability and finish. All of those make for a very good toy, but add to the cost to make it, he adds. 


His products are licensed by Notre Dame and can be found in the campus bookstores. He also is licensed to sell Princeton University products (his son attends school there).


Decking the Halls at the White House

Late last year, Lindburg got an email from a woman in Chicago who said she had seen his toy train engine online and wondered if he could make a much bigger one. He responded that it could be done and he started working on it and sending her photos. 


“She told me it was going to be used to decorate a very large home on the east coast,” he recalls.


That “large home” turned out to be located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. and the woman calling him was Gabrielle Martinez of Agency EA in Chicago­—the company hired to decorate the White House for the past five years. 


The large red and black wooden engine was on display in the East Garden Room along with a Christmas tree and two large mechanical dogs, representing Bo and Sunny, the President’s two Portuguese Water dogs. 


Lindburg and his wife, Eileen, were honored to visit the White House and see the display. “We were pretty excited,” he says. 


The challenge faced by South Bend Woodworks, Lindburg says, is marketing the very high-quality toys to a pretty narrow demographic. He knows the toys will last 50 years or more and he knows that they engage a child’s imagination. “We want to broaden the message to reach more people.”


For more information about South Bend Woodworks, go to the website at www.southbendwoodworks.com