Dale Hollow Lake has always been near to Brian Hayes’ heart. He was 6 years old the first time his family vacationed there, and it has called him back every year since.
“The lake is just the most beautiful natural water you’ll ever see – an absolute diamond in the rough,” said Hayes, who grew up in Kokomo, Ind. “I’ve been going there for 54 years. When we went there the very first time in 1964, it was remote. Nobody knew the place.”
His late father always hoped his four boys would build a home on Dale Hollow, a dream that inspired Hayes to construct a 6,500-square-foot family retreat there, beginning construction in 2005.
The French Country-style timber-frame home, at 340 Eagle Point Drive in Albany, Ky., lies two and a half hours southwest of Lexington in Clinton County on the Kentucky-Tennessee border. The impressive four-bedroom house, which took two and a half years to build, is perched atop Skull Bluff, a well-known local landmark. Before the Civil War, part of the mountain was blasted out so that loggers could slide logs down to the Wolf River for transport, Hayes said. When he learned that bit of history, Hayes decided to build the house right in that notch.
With more than 2,000 feet of frontage on Dale Hollow Lake, the gated property offers panoramic views. “It sits on top of its own private little mountain. You have a view of the lake from nearly every window.”
His vision for the home was inspired by Two Elks, a ski lodge at the top of China Bowl in Vail, Colo. Hayes wanted to create a comfortable getaway reminiscent of a lodge where family – including his adult children, grandkids and his brothers, who are all busy contractors – could escape.
“The whole property is just intended for you to lay back and relax, brew a pot of coffee, watch the first boats come out. You can see all the way down the lake. The sun shines right on you while you’re (on the deck) in the morning.”
A rare sight in the East
Hayes, who lives in Noblesville, Ind., builds conventionally framed, high-end custom homes in the Indianapolis area. Early in his career, he learned about timber-frame construction – post-and-beam framing held together with pegs – while doing research for a customer. “I just was always impressed with that type of construction,” said Hayes, describing himself as an old soul with an appreciation for the centuries-old building method.
“You see those homes out west, but east of the Mississippi River, you (rarely) see timber frames,” he said. Hayes worked with Riverbend Timber Framing, which has a regional office in Blissfield, Mich., to design the custom home. “They really came through.”
Notable features include the home’s white oak framing, solid copper standing-seam roof and its Crab Orchard stone exterior, constructed from 750 tons of buff-colored stone sourced out of Crab Orchard, Tenn. – “the only spot on the planet where this type of stone is found,” Hayes said.
Wood interiors, complemented by stone accents, create warmth and natural beauty throughout. “I really love the timbers and all the wood – there’s hardly any drywall exposed,” Hayes said. “That’s my favorite part, along with the architecture.”
‘Everybody had their vision’
Unique touches fill the home. As a contractor, Hayes works with an array of vendors, who are well-versed in custom and specialty products. When they learned of his plan to build a lake retreat, colleagues, friends and community members generously contributed ideas to set it apart. “Everybody had their vision, and I listened, and we incorporated a lot.”
Amish craftsmen at Harlan Cabinets in Harlan, Ind., constructed the custom cabinetry in the open kitchen. A sizable island showcases a fish-fossil limestone countertop from Utah’s Green River Stone Company, featuring naturally occurring 50-million-year-old fossils from the Green River Formation out west. In the two-story great room, a chandelier – weighing about 500 pounds and comprising about 30 moose antlers handpicked from the Alaskan wilderness – is suspended from the vaulted ceiling by an old logging chain pulled from the Snake River in Idaho.
Limestone flooring from Turkey covers most of the main floor. Rare heart pine – found upstairs and in the master suite on the main floor – was reclaimed from a Louisville warehouse that was being torn down. Cut from 60- and 80-foot beams, the gorgeous flooring is a deep red.
Downstairs, the lower-level great room – known by the family as “The Bar” – was designed “100 percent for entertaining.” Built for comfort with 13-foot ceilings, it features its own full kitchen and bar and a billiards table made of carved walnut and African Zebra wood. Two 12-foot-wide doors lead to the lower deck, connected by steps to a 2,200-square-foot suspended stone patio that offers stunning views and can hold as many as 200 guests. Hayes enjoys opening the space to the community for special occasions such as weddings, proms and senior photo shoots.
Busy lives and complicated work schedules have made it difficult for family members to visit the retreat as much as they’d like. While he still will spend time at Dale Hollow, Hayes thinks it’s time to let the property go to someone who can truly enjoy it. “It is not without a lot of trepidation,” Hayes said. “I put my heart and soul in it.”
This week’s feature home is listed with Doreen Taylor of Berkshire Hathaway de Movellan Properties.