The Herald Bulletin

October 13, 2012

Wooden paradise

Time-honored building approach made Stultz home a warm, inviting testament to Mother Nature

By Emma Bowen Meyer
For The Herald Bulletin

ANDERSON, Ind. — Lawn chairs filled with strangers appeared on Dale and Cheryl Stultz’s lawn as an Amish family raised the timber frame that replaced the front section of their home a year and a half ago.

Surprised by the attention; Dale simply welcomed them and even provided lunches.

“People came from all over,” said Dale, shaking his head with a smile. “They brought their lawn chairs and watched. I fed 35 people one day. It’s just a fascinating thing to watch. People still stop by and take pictures.”

An Amish family from Ohio, including three generations of men, stayed on the property for three days until the frame was completed. Rather than opting for metal nails or screws, they used mallets to drive wooden pins into place. Dale was left to add the wiring, heating, plumbing, stairs, floor joists and drywall.

Knowing either a log home or timber frame home would look perfect on his rustic 20 acres of land, Dale had considered the change for some time.

Timberrick Woods, the name for his rural property, includes a one-mile trail, pond, windmill, campground, retreat center and cabins. He welcomes churches, Anderson University, friends and neighbors to use it for all kinds of get-togethers.

Dale is vice president of the Historical Society of the  Church of God and recently co-authored “The Gospel Trumpet Years: 1881-1961” with Douglas Welch.

Dream kitchen

So well insulated is the finished product that the Stultzes actually turn off their furnace during December, January and February and heat the entire house with a wood stove.

With structural insulated panels which feature a thick foam core, Hardiplank fiber-cement siding and eight full inches of foam in the roof, the couple stays toasty warm even during the coldest months.

But more than that, the 25-foot-high ceiling made of knotty pine is a sight to behold. Support beams and joists are so lovely that no one would dare hide them.

“The ins and outs of the structure make a beautiful design,” added Dale, who retired from Frankton High School after teaching woodworking, arts, crafts and photography for 35 years. “It becomes a setting in and of itself and the lights and the darks — for those of us that grew up in the arts, you view it differently than a plain Jane place.”

Originally built in 1928, the home is far from new. However, only one hallway remains from the initial structure. Dale has renovated every other room so that visitors feel like they are walking through a completely new house.

Seemingly motivated by his marriage to Cheryl four years ago, his expert hands have moved quickly.

“For many years I took in men that were homeless, so you can imagine how everything looked,” he said. “You can’t bring a woman into a situation like that. Cheryl aspires to be a cook so I built her a dream kitchen.”

A spacious kitchen filled with golden cabinetry, an island for extra countertop space, an under mount sink and stainless steel appliances would delight any chef. Icing the top of the cake are the seven huge windows behind the eating area that look into the woods. A large tree lies sideways, acting as a jungle gym for wildlife.

Making room

With his momentum in full swing, he remodeled all four bathrooms in the house, added a kitchenette upstairs, built a new pantry and fashioned a timber frame office for Cheryl in the back.

“She liked it so much we decided that’s what we wanted on the front,” said Dale.

Most people don’t grab a reciprocal saw and decide to cut their house in two, but that didn’t stop Dale. Knowing the front portion had to be removed to make room for the work of the Amish family, he simply charged forward.

Then he hopped on his tractor and pulled on the front porch until it came crashing down.

Once the new timber frame was erected, he had a number of new projects. Crafting the staircase out of one large log, designing the railing with sheep fencing and fashioning an eye-catching chandelier from wood strips and sewer pipes kept his artistic juices flowing.

“Wood is the building material of the ages,” said Dale. “Nothing else is like it. You can shape it, carve it, and bend it. And I love the touch and look of it. Wood will last 1,000 years if you take care of it.”