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a tall tail tale

The story of Great Lakes Home

Long ago, before our cofounder Alfred was born, Captain Theodore Olsen, formerly of the Royal Norwegian Navy but now an immigrant living in Muskegon on the shores of Lake Michigan, built a house. He filled the house with his beloved collection of rosemåling, and set out from it almost every day, in his wooden faering, to fish upon the waters of the great lake.  

One day, as he peered idly past his bobber into the depths, he made eye contact. Shaken but unafraid, the old captain watched as the head of a magnificent serpent rose many feet above the surface. After a long moment of mutual observation, the serpent rose higher and in a great arc leapt over the boat and vanished into the deep.

This was the Captain's tale and he loved to tell it. So it was that when Captain Olsen failed to return from his routine excursion onto the lake, and days became weeks, and weeks months, it was said amongst the folk of Muskegon that "...he ended up in the tummy of that monster of his, mark my words." Captain Olsen had never referred to the serpent as a monster, but there it is.

Many years after Captain Olsen disappeared, his wonderful old home on the Western coast of Michigan was purchased by Dr. Olaf Larson of Chicago as a Summer retreat for his young family.

It was Dr. Larson's middle son Alfred who first encountered the silent, shimmering spirit, standing at the boy's bedroom window gazing out at the setting sun. And though at first there was trepidation at the idea of such an exotic tenant, the family came to believe—from tales told by the old folk of Muskegon—that Alfred's startling discovery was the ghost of Captain Olsen.

But after all, who were they to object to the builder of their lake home showing up from time to time? So it was that the Larsons and the Captain came to know each other.

Alfred Larson grew up, as young people tend to do, followed in the footsteps of his architect father, Dr. Olaf, and started a small practice in Uptown on Chicago's North side. One warm and windy night, lingering at the Green Mill after work, he met Ana Maria Benavides, who was out with her friends.  

The conversation which sprouted that night blossomed into a whirlwind romance, and the beautiful and strong-willed Ana Maria, a very determined and effective public defender, became his wife ... after Ana Maria herself did the proposing.

The couple settled farther south in Pilsen, to be close to Ana Maria's family, and built a home there for their growing family and Dr. Olaf, who was getting on in years. Regular trips to the old family house in Muskegon introduced Ana Maria to the glimmering ghost of Captain Olsen, and provided many brilliant summers on the lake and in the woods for Alfred and Ana Maria's children, Johan and Helena ... and their terrier Carl.  

Blame it on the old captain's collection of rosemåling if you will, but Alfred became an avid collector in his own right, and Ana Maria's never-ending lust for travel gave an ever-more-international edge to their acquisitions.

And so it is that Alfred and Ana Maria, now settling into a somewhat slower, more relaxed pace of life after successful careers and traveling the globe, have cofounded with our owner Jeffrey Moss a little shop in Pilsen.  

They still travel constantly between Chicago and Muskegon, still add to their many unusual collections, and still see the Captain ... though he appears now less and less. And they believe with all their hearts, in full agreement with Jeffrey, that it's best to furnish your home with stories—and not just things.

Welcome to Great Lakes Home.