Six successful auction bidders will be doing so as the guests of Audrey and Peter Kaufman at their home, Point Loma, north of Marquette. The dinner will be among the many items listed for bid at the the Marquette County History Museum’s annual auction Thursday. “Timeless Temptations: An Auction of Antiques, Collectibles and Unique Opportunities,” will begin at 7 p.m. at UpFront & Co. in downtown Marquette.
The Kaufman’s home is literally built into Lake Superior’s rocky shore. Boulders serve as back walls in several rooms on the lower level. In the winter Lake Superior waves often hit the shore and send water over the top of the house. But the structure is built to withstand the lake’s power.
The cedar exterior and the color of the trim blend into the natural surroundings, a goal the Kaufmans were adamant about achieving. Local craftsmen were employed in building this exquisite home.
A natural harbor is just a few steps from the house. A break in the rocky coast line created a pie-shaped inlet. With a boat launch at one end of the inlet, excursions on the lake are easily accessible. What was once a “murky frog pond” enclosed in the rock formations, is now a natural swimming pool. The water is warmed in the summer by the sun on the rocks.
Peter Kaufman is the grandson of Louis Graveraet Kaufman, banker, philanthropist and generous supporter of the city of Marquette. “L.G.” began his career as a messenger at the Marquette County Savings Bank; ten years later he was the Vice President of the First National Bank of Marquette and became president in 1908, succeeding the late Peter White. In 1910 Kaufman went to New York as president of the Chatham Bank. Within a year of his arrival, the bank merged with Phenix National, the first of many subsequent mergers. When Kaufman retired in 1932, the bank’s resources had increased 50-fold, an outstanding accomplishment in New York banking history.
Kaufman remained president of the First National Bank in Marquette while he was in New York, a position for which he received special dispensation from the Federal Reserve Board. He was the only person in the United States to be president of two national banks at the same time.
Kaufman attributed his success to hard work and studying.
“I found early in life,” he once said, “that the only way to keep one lap ahead of the other fellow was to study more and to learn more than he, and to keep valuable information that I had gathered in the back of my head for immediate or future use, as the case might be.”
L.G. Kaufman never lost touch with Marquette. In 1916 he donated the site for the new Graveraet High School, which was named in honor of his mother, Juliet Ann Graveraet. He then gave a cash contribution to cover the cost of furnishing and decorating the auditorium, which, in recognition of his gift, was named the Louis G. Kaufman Auditorium.
In later years, L.G. created an Endowment Fund with the principal focus of enhancing the lives of the young people of the greater Marquette area. Among other things, this includes an annual awards program designed to encourage and recognize many areas of achievement, as well as academics. This Endowment Fund continues to this day.
In 1919 Kaufman began building Granot Loma, a 26,000-square-foot log estate north of Marquette on Lake Superior. An example of rustic architecture, the Kaufman “camp” has fifty rooms. Said to resemble an enchanted forest, the camp took 300 workers eight years to complete.
At Loma Farms Kaufman demonstrated what could be accomplished in agricultural development and raising purebred live stock in the Upper Peninsula. Thirteen modern farm and dairy buildings, including white tiled, corked floor barns, completed the estate. Kaufman developed the Loma herd of registered purebred Guernseys; many local dairymen used the purebred stock to improve their herds.
Audrey and Peter are looking forward to sharing stories and family history with their guests, including Louis Kaufman’s involvement with the building of the Empire State Building and his role as one of the founders of General Motors.
The Kaufman dinner will be catered by Tom Wahlstrom, certified executive chef, and will include samplings from the menu of Tom’s newly opened, “Elizabeth’s Chop House.”
Granot Loma, the huge log lodge Louis G. Kaufman built around 1920 on Lake Superior north of Marquette, is shown in the mid-20s.