Spruce Island is a seventy-three acre island in Merchants Row, an archipelago of several dozen islands and cruising grounds off the coast of Maine.Spruce is unique for its massive, smooth granite ledges, superb for hiking, and small pocket beaches of old, American Indian shell middens.The island is home to deer, mink, and other small mammals, and frequented by many species of birds including song birds and bald eagles as well as sea birds and wild ducks.
The Camden Hills can be seen to the west, the mountains of Acadia National Park to the east, and Isle-au-Haut, part of the National Park System, rises out of the sea to the south.There are many places to explore, by foot, or in a kayak or other small boat, on and around Spruce Island and the surrounding islands in Merchants Row, many conserved in forever wild states by well known organizations such as Maine Coast Heritage Trust and Nature Conservancy as well as the United States government through the Acadia National Park system.
Spruce Island falls within the town of Stonington, Maine, famous for its deliciously fresh Maine lobster caught in the waters of Merchants Row, but even more famous for the pink Maine granite that has been cut from its quarries for more than a hundred years.Spruce was quarried in the late 1800’s and evidence of those operations remains.In harmony with this long history of granite work in the area, and because of the unsurpassed beauty and durability of granite, the owners of Spruce Island began in 2006 to build a spectacular granite lodge on the high point of the island, 125 feet above sea level.
This lodge is comprised of two separate structures, the Main House with a huge granite fireplace facing a large living room with a kitchen at one end and a loft with bedroom and full bath. There is a “crows nest” on the roof with spectacular views of the surrounding islands.The other structure, the Bunk House, is just over the knoll and contains six bedrooms, each with its own bathroom, and each having a wood stove and a “Russian” fireplace.The Bunk House also has a crows nest on the roof.Power is supplied mainly by wind and solar with backup from a propane generator.
The houses were made of solid granite blocks (300 metric tons in all), weighing up to 2500 pounds each, and contrary to what might be expected, the granite was not from Stonington but from China, at one-fifth the cost from Maine quarries, after delivery.We created CAD drawings of each of the different block designs for the factory in China, and I spent almost two months there in the factory, to ensure the granite blocks met predetermined tolerances because one significant error would have halted the construction process causing significant cost increases.
The assembly of the houses was unusual and defied conventional construction methods and sequences.For example the granite walls were built first, to be self supporting rather than a façade as is typical of masonry, and then the wood interior walls were assembled flat on the floors and tilted into place.Windows (which were also custom made at significant cost savings in China with no compromise in quality) were installed after the end of the project, from the inside of the houses rather than from the outside as is typical in housing construction, to allow easy replacement in the future without having to take apart the granite walls.
Acknowledgements: Architect: Dan Hisel http://danhiselarchitect.com Engineer: Dan McGraw, Surry, Maine Rough Carpentry: Richard Hardy, Little Deer Isle, Maine Finish Carpentry: Jeff Small, Little Deer Isle, Maine Masonry: Michael Hardy, Deer Isle, Maine Infrastrcuture: Byron Hutchinson and Ed Davis, Deer Isle, Maine Timber Clearing: Danny Eaton, Deer Isle, Maine Electrical: Curt Haskel & Son, Stonington, Maine Plumbing: Percy Brown & Sons, Deer Isle, Maine Transportation: Island Transporter, Rockland, Maine Bathroom tiling: Jon Nocella, Deer Isle, Maine Stone, windows, doors, wind turbines: from China (contact Colie O'Donnell for details) Colie O'Donnell, firstname.lastname@example.org