Homeowner builds resort-like home in Champions subdivision after fire

Although the setting of 47 Avenue of Champions looks perfect—the beautiful golf course, the quiet street, the picturesque landscaping—the homeowner had to face disaster before finding perfection.

That homeowner, Charlie Mihalek, was a caddy growing up at the Lancaster Country Club.

“It was prestigious, and I saw all of these gentlemen and ladies, and I thought to myself, ‘I’d like to own a house on a golf course with a country club.’”

His friend invited him to play golf at Champion Trace Course, which he immediately favored, along with the surrounding homes. He saved his money and bought one of the last lots available, across from the clubhouse. After deciding not to build, he sold the lot to a neighbor and bought the house at 47 Avenue of Champions.

“As soon as I looked at it, I knew I wanted to buy it,” he said. “I was the first one to look at it and it had been on the market for two years.”

The house was in a bit of disrepair, though. He spent his first three years cleaning and repairing the home and establishing his gardens.

In winter 2007, Mihalek came in from out of town to check on things at home. He went to his garage to start his car to let it run for a bit. While caring for his koi fish in the garden, he noticed smoke overhead. Then he saw flames. His car had caught fire and spread to the house.

Standing outside in the cold, waiting for firefighters to arrive, Mihalek said it reminded him of an old Hank Williams song, the siren in the distance as his house was ablaze.

Ninety firemen from Nicholasville and Wilmore battled the fire, blasting water into the house for more than six hours.

“Virtually everything in the house was destroyed,” he said.

So he had to demolish it and rebuild, moving back in in April 2009. He loves the new house and says it’s a vast improvement from the original.

“By 2008, they had far better building materials than in the 90s. Doors, windows, drywall; it’s astounding.

It’s a smart house. It’s fully automated. If you’re in Hong Kong, you can adjust the heat, adjust the cameras, turn the lights on and off. The house really is a resort. There are so many fun things (to do),” he said.

One of his favorite features is the floating staircase in the main hallway, which he had modeled after the staircases at Spindletop Hall.

“It’s special. It’s an engineering feat,” he said.

The home sits on 12 acres, half of which Mihalek maintains and the other half the golf course has a permanent easement. The PGA Tour Barbasol Championship was recently held there, which Mihalek said was a huge success and was a fun event to share with friends.

He treasures his gardens, which has many beds of blooming perennials, a French chalet and lots of stonework.

“I’ve always wanted to have beautiful surroundings. I think it says a lot about the homeowner to have mature trees and perennial gardens. It’s a wonderful skill to have,” Mihalek said.

It’s a great entertainment house, he said, with a great traffic flow through the kitchen and great room, a huge wine cellar and theater room downstairs, Pennsylvania blue stone on the patios, a pool and an aqueduct that carries to a waterfall.

During the rebuild, Mihalek stretched his ceilings to nine- and 10-feet-tall, which he said opens the space and air in the home.

He redesigned the kitchen to remind visitors of a French and English country house, put down 5-inch-wide Kentucky Oak floors and went from two by four framing to two by six framing, all done by Lexington-based Padgett Construction.

“The front redesign was a dramatic improvement. It went from a dated front to a much more classic, luxury, Kentucky bluegrass home,” with Marvin doors and windows and a large, solid mahogany front door.

“It’s a fabulous place to live. The people here are so interesting and friendly. It’s one of the top neighborhoods in Lexington, as far as I’m concerned,” he said.

This week’s feature home is listed with Susie Rodes of Berkshire Hathaway De Movellan.