Bakers get to look at Piney Woods Lake all year long
By Gabrielle Jansen
The LaGrange Daily News
Sitting in the windowed porch of the Baker house on Country Club Drive, you get a view of Piney Woods Lake and the wildlife.
“We’re after the view and certainly we’ve not been disappointed,” homeowner Markette Baker said.
Markette and Jim Baker bought the land from Milliken and Company in 2016 and built and finished their two-story, 4,500-square-foot total house in 2017. Milliken had guest houses on the property, which it purchased from Callaway Mills in 1968, according to Troup County historian Clark Johnson.
“Callaway Mills used it to house visiting executives, people who would come in to do business with Callaway Mills,” Johnson said. “But they also let civic groups and the city use it from time to time for visiting dignitaries and stuff like that.”
Johnson said he is not sure whether the Callaway houses were built in either the 1930s or 1940s, but military generals and personnel used the homes when they visited in 1943 to recognize the local factories for their efforts in war production.
“It wasn’t just a place for people to spend the night. They had parties and special events there,” Johnson said.
When Markette and Jim, who are both local attorneys, bought the property, they based the design on the houses in Serenbe, Georgia, where modern farm houses were built from scratch.
“We liked how a lot of those looked where things weren’t too fussy,” Markette said.
After also visiting a beach home, where the side facing the beach had large windows and doors, the couple knew they wanted to have a view they could enjoy all the time. The Bakers took one of Newnan architect Mitch Ginn’s designs and modified it.
Construction began in April 2017. The couple and their children, Jack, 14, and Nina Frances, 10, moved into the home before Christmas last year.
“I was at school when they started moving, so I rode the bus home,” Nina Francis said. “I didn’t really know what to expect.”
At the same time they were finishing construction, so were their next door neighbors, LaGrange Mayor Jim Thornton and his wife Corrine.
“Jim and I grew up around here together, so we’ve known each other for a very, very long time,” Markette said. “We adore the Thorntons. They’re just the best neighbors and the best people.”
While the house itself is 3,500 square feet, it also has a separate 1,000 square-foot space where Markette’s mother, LaGrange College professor Nina Dulin-Mallory, lives.
“She used to live on Broad Street, and she’s an English professor at the college. She just decided it was time to sell the house she had been in for 30 years,” Markette said.
Markette said when they purchased the land, they kept the house’s position similar to how the Milliken guest house faced for the view. In keeping with the same position, Markette said none of the trees at the front of the house were taken down.
“It’s just a beautiful view of Piney Woods Lake and almost a little bit of a bird’s eye view because it’s at the top of this hill,” Markette said. “And it’s just gorgeous.”
In addition to the house’s wide windows, it also has an open floor between the kitchen, dining and living areas.
“We’ve always lived in older homes, and there’s certain elements in older homes that we just loved,” Markette said. “One of them was typically a black and white kitchen.”
While building the kitchen, the counter was accidentally made with black marble and made bigger than it was intended. Markette said that while that was a mistakes, it ended up working well.
“It’s ended up being a really wonderful space because we do enjoy cooking a lot,” Nina Frances said.
The Baker house has two porches, with the screened porch leading to an outside deck.
From the screened-in porch, Markette said they’ve seen all kinds of wildlife, such as snapping turtles, osprey, egrets, kingfishers, foxes, deer, hawks, monarch butterflies and Canadian geese.
“Getting to watch the kind of wildlife is really amazing. You can sit and hear all the birds going,” Markette said. “We have binoculars in the kitchen window and every time somebody thinks that they see something, you go grab the binoculars real quick to try to grab them to see what it is that caught their eye.”
Markette said they have enjoyed the view no matter where they are in the house.
“The really big snow (from January) was incredible over here. This was so beautiful in the snow. It was really, really amazing,” Markette said. “We were lucky to get everything done and to be able to enjoy the winter turning into spring turning into summer. It’s really been a treat to see the change in seasons.”