CEDAR RAPIDS — It’s hard to come up with a single word to describe the house on Oak Grove Court in northeast Cedar Rapids.
“Stunning” comes to mind. “Beautiful.” “Luxuriant.” And certainly: “extraordinary.”
But where in Joe and Kathy Patten’s 6,535 square-foot house would you begin your description?
You could start with the solid cherry cabinetry that stretches almost the full length of the 28 1/2-foot library/theater room, its red wood gleaming onto rich burgundy leather furniture, the room ending in a fully-equipped granite bar and a dual movie/TV screen sporting a surround sound system.
You could go on to the 33-foot kitchen and hearth room with just about anything the home cook could ask for, including a six-burner multi-temperature gas range — with relaxation waiting at the end of the room with a comfy brick fireplace and sink-down leather chairs.
Then there’s the spacious exercise area with its full array of equipment, and a cork inset floor for exercising. Here you can Skype on the widescreen TV with your out-of-state personal trainer.
One of the most striking features is the well-appointed patio kitchen: Twin brick cooking facilities sit side by side. It embraces a Tuscan oven — imported from Tuscany — that bakes a pizza in two minutes or roasts a turkey and vegetables in less than 90 minutes. Courtiers to this amazing feature are a fireplace, a stainless steel grill for steaks and fish, and a stainless steel drink cooler.
A workshop is a masterpiece for the expert woodworker: The two-story, 21-by-22 foot space has a loft and two 8-foot workbenches, one built from the plans of a 17th-century French carpenter. A 1-ton crane lowers a set of steps to access the loft, as well as an elevator platform to transport materials or finished projects.
The grounds of the 1.08-acre property are serene, reminiscent of English gardens. They’re planted with thousands of bulbs, shrubs and trees. There’s a sprinkler system and to complete the picture, a graceful circle driveway winds around the front of the home.
And to solve any possible power outages — the home features a whole-house generator.
This is “Hickory Woods,” so called because of its plenitude of hickory trees, kept company by oak and elm trees. The house was built in 1999.
Joe and Kathy Patten bought the house in 2004 but planned extensive remodeling and additions, which took 18 months, so they didn’t move in until 2006.
“We bought it because of the location, the position of the house on the lot, and the outside,” says Joe Patten. “It was just a very nice piece of property.”
The couple wanted to be close to Xavier High School because of their grandchildren. Two of their five grandchildren live relatively close by: Daughter Angie Rohret, 44, and family live in Swisher. Son Wayne, 46, lives in Fairfield/Cincinnati, Ohio, and has three children.
Joe Patten is managing partner of MainStream Holdings LLC, crisis management consultants.
As much as the couple liked the house, they wanted more features. So they, in effect, “rebuilt” the house, as Joe Patten puts it, making major changes inside and adding many more. They added the workshop, four-season sunroom, the generous-sized patio with cooking facilities (“That Tuscan oven is awesome,” says Joe Patten), and upgraded the mechanical systems.
So, what they have now is: a core eight rooms (kitchen/hearth room, dining room, den/music room, great room/living room, sunroom, library/theater/media room, exercise and hobby rooms, in addition to four bedrooms, four full baths and two half-baths. There’s a main level with a great room and master bedroom, and a lower level. Floors are oak, the fireplaces see-through, single- and outdoor, and there’s a heated three-stall garage.
Not half shabby! The house is nothing to sniff at either: It has three furnaces, with the main floor zoned for heating and air-conditioning; two water heaters, an advanced security system, and the whole house generator.
The house is perfect for entertaining.
And now the ironic contradiction: They’re moving. Not by choice. “We both have health issues,” says Joe Patten, 69, about him and wife, Kathy, 66. “The house is just not suitable for our needs … when we rebuilt the house, we intended to live here the rest of our lives.” They will build anew, close to Xavier again, and a house designed with an elevator.
Body copy ragged right: The Oak Grove Court house is being offered for sale privately for $833,300. Considering its considerable amenities, one wonders, “Why so cheap?”
“There have been amazing transitions in the country and the economy,” Joe Patten replies. “The demand for large houses is dropping, and Cedar Rapids is changing. The city is doing fine, but the underlying economies are changing. A lot of jobs that support high-end houses have left.
“The market today is for $400,000 houses or less. Anything above $500,000 — well, there are just a lot. It’s obvious we’re way below what we have in it, but we have priced it to sell.”
Doesn’t it break their hearts to move? “Yes,” says Joe Patten. “If we could put an elevator in, we wouldn’t move.” He’s consulted with professionals but an elevator isn’t possible.
The house is decorated largely in muted colors.
Kathy Patten used Larry Roberts Interiors.
“Basically, I wanted it to look English Country. But I want family to live here. I want guests to be comfortable.”
Her favorite room: The kitchen/hearth room. “I spend the most time in there. That’s where everything happens. If we have 30 people in, they’re all in there. For quiet time, I go to the great room, and watch TV or read.”
Joe Patten’s favorite room is a tie between the workshop and the library/media room, he says. And with both, he said, “We wanted our grandchildren and their friends to want to come here.” However, he spends most of his time in either his office (a converted bedroom) or the kitchen.