September 2009 Issue
The Drackett cottage is a four-generation family touchstone where good old days are preserved and new memories are made every season.
Not all of the reclaimed pieces were utilized in the new cottage, which was completed in 2000. But some of the white cedar shake siding that “wears like iron” remains. A few wavy glass window panels were also keepers.
Lakeside has been a Drackett family tradition for four generations, ever since Bill’s great-grandparents took a train from Columbus to their cottage. Bill spent summers at Lakeside as a child, and he and Mame have been bringing their boys here for nearly 30 years.
The Cincinnati-based family can relax and reconnect at Lakeside, which is a throwback to the days when people stopped in on neighbors just to say hello. Even today, town news is passed from one front porch to the next. Lakesiders find out the real buzz while waiting in line at the walk-up doughnut window on Saturday mornings to order cream sticks, cinnamon cake or sticky glazed versions.
“That’s what you do in Lakeside,” Mame says simply. She produces a tray of chocolate chip cookies and iced tea while she and Bill take turns sharing stories about their Lakeside home, a “reunion place” for family and friends.
Lakeside is full of oldies but goodies. A typical weekend includes a game of miniature golf, pizza at Sloopy’s and afternoons swimming in Lake Erie. The candy store has a self-serve counter with an honor system so children can make their own change.
You can unplug here and disconnect in a healthy way. “Driving through the gate, everyone says their blood pressure goes down,” Mame says. Losing track of time is part of the game plan.
“Lakeside is still the touchstone for the family, because they all come back here,” Bill adds. The Dracketts are well equipped to entertain, thanks to the third-floor “dorm” with seven twin beds, most of them antiques from Mame’s family. The home sleeps 14 comfortably. “Everyone washes their own sheets before leaving,” Mame remarks. “They know if they get an A-plus guest rating, they are invited back.”
But pretty much everyone is welcome back, and Mame calls the constant wave of company all summer “the gift that keeps on giving.”
The cottage is filled to the brim with tokens of the Dracketts’ Lakeside legacy — a black-and-white photo of Bill riding a Schwinn bicycle and various drawings of the cottage, for example. Mame is a collector of silver spoons, and Flow Blue dishware, 19th-century princess feather quilts and antique toys accent the home.
The Dracketts’ sons, now 26 and 23, are especially fond of the sleeping porch attached to the upstairs bedroom, loved for its position directly above the back porch and facing the lake. “They’ll probably get married and still sleep there,” Mame says, smiling. “They’re all about the tradition.”
But Mame had ideas for ways to improve the home, and in the new construction, that included opening up the first-floor living space and shifting the kitchen to the center rather than the back of the house so she could enjoy lake views while cooking. The back porch and its water views would continue to be a focal point of the home, so retractable glass panels were installed to create a four-season room. Heirloom rugs add warmth to the space and a set of wooden rocking chairs fashioned by Bill’s grandfather suggests that there’s no better place to unwind.
“We planned the porch around those — they’ve always been on the porch, and that is where they will always stay,” Mame says.
“The Christmas tree goes right there,” Bill points to the antique pine table that belonged to Mame’s grandmother at her own lake house in Indiana.
Inside, walls are adorned with plein air paintings by Richard Dziak, one of them a portrait of the Dracketts’ expansive flower garden. One year for their anniversary, Bill gave Mame 4,000 daffodil bulbs to plant along the lakefront walking path in front of their home. Much of the Dracketts’ free time is spent toiling and tinkering around on the property.
Throughout the cottage, conservative use of bead board adds old-house character, and when the Dracketts could not find antique accoutrements for the home, they ordered reproductions. For instance, the boys requested stilted beds for the sleeping porch so they could look out the window at the water. The Dracketts called on David T. Smith in Lebanon to build “farmhand” beds that align perfectly with the windowsill.
Every room contains a story, even the nautical-themed powder room wallpapered with charts of the Great Lakes. Sailboat racing flags that Mame’s
father won are displayed there. Mame has plans for the spaces in between the nautical charts. “My dream is to fill the spaces with [photographs] of the kids and us on boats,” she says.
The Drackett home will always be a work in progress because every lake season’s end leaves behind memories that are recorded through pictures and keepsakes. Mame points to a pine board framing the top of the stairwell, an artifact from the “old” cottage. The boys used to race down the steps and slap that board on their way to the kitchen, the porch, the lake. They insisted it be included in the redesign.
Those small features serve as reminders of the joyful times spent with family at their lakefront getaway. “Lakeside has been a gathering point for generations —and it’s not just the buildings,” Bill says, reaching for the words to express the intangible part of this place that makes it so special. “It’s the culture, the tradition, the people — there’s a healing aspect.”
Mame agrees. “Once you get here, you get it.”