Andy and Kris Appleby transformed the historic home, once owned by the Vernors family, into a “venue” for sports, entertainment and gathering with friends.
By Susan Peck
Photography by Brett Mountain
After looking over a year for their dream home, Andy and Kris Appleby knew the minute they pulled into the circular driveway of the 6,000-square-foot home in Bloomfield Hills that they found it. “Before I even got out of the car to go inside it took my breath away,” Kris says. “It’s the house I had been waiting for my whole life, and it has the sense of history that we wanted.”
The five-bedroom, six-bathroom home and carriage house they bought in 2003 was presented by the Detroit Historical Society and the American Society of Interior Designers as a designer showcase, and has a rich historical narrative, beginning in 1828 when the property was purchased by John Vaughan.
“A copy of a United States government patent for the property shows it was issued by President Andrew Jackson to the original owner, Vaughan, in 1829, (something typically done at that time for landowners),” says John Marshall, member of the Bloomfield Historical Society. “He and his wife built their house on part of the land that sits at the point where Vaughn Road (named after him) meets Lahser Road.” Five generations of the Vaughan family lived there until 1924.
James Vernor Jr., son of the founder of Vernors Ginger Ale, purchased the house in 1924 and named it Stonecrest, a reflection of the house’s 18-inch stone walls and artifacts still preserved in the home today.
There were approximately eight more owners before Andy, 56, and Kris, 50, took residence with their four children — the youngest in middle school and the oldest a recent college graduate. Andy is a former vice president of Palace Sports and Entertainment, current chair and CEO of General Sports and Entertainment, LLC, and CEO and commissioner of the United Shore Professional Baseball League.
Kris has been hands-on with the home’s interior design and describes it as eclectic with an emphasis on English country. “We have beautiful wood antiques and special pieces from England, fixtures from Paris, and contemporary elements and textures in palates of slate gray, beige and charcoal, particularly in the bedrooms,” she says.
“We get to feel the history of the home every day because of the unique things kept from its original design — like the authentic stone horse drinking trough that’s an interesting focal point in what is now one of our dining rooms and the original stone wall treatments that used to be on the exterior of the house,” Kris adds.
The library showcases an authentic 1945 naval uniform, an original World War II photo of a battalion of soldiers from Boston and another stone fireplace.
All four children have taken piano lessons on their baby grand, surrounded by framed antique musical books and sheet music that belonged to their grandmother, a music lover.
The original ballroom with high ceilings and a large stone fireplace is now their family great room, making it a perfect gathering space for guests or family.
“We entertain a lot for the holidays and for charity causes,” Andy says. “We’ve hosted events recently for Child Safe Michigan and Care House of Oakland County.” Kris is also co-founder of the Suite Dreams Project, a program of the General Sports Foundation — a nonprofit serving low- and moderate-income families — that transforms bedrooms into beautiful healing spaces for children.
Another favorite family space is the two-bedroom renovated carriage house with vintage décor, beside the main house. “It’s now our guest house and has a full kitchen so the kids love it for sleepovers,” Andy says.
The vast grounds include a pool and Jacuzzi, basketball court and a “field of dreams” that Andy built — a replica of the Green Monster, the left field wall at Fenway Park, home to the Boston Red Sox. “One of my first jobs was selling concessions at that park,” he says. “I wanted to pay tribute to Fenway and have a place where family and friends could play whiffle ball, and I found the perfect sweet spot here in our yard.”
Andy had another baseball dream in 2015 when he created the USPBL to develop professional baseball players for Major League Baseball and built a state-of-the-art stadium, Jimmy John’s Field, in Utica. “This past season the league set attendance records, selling out 61 of its 75 games and now has over 25 players who have gone on to sign with Major League Baseball organizations,” Andy says.
Hosts to a family reunion every few years, the Applebys make family time their priority. “Kris and I always wanted our home to be the go-to house for our kids and their friends to gather, and it has become that,” Andy says. “We love that our home is filled with music and sports our kids are playing and, of course, a great game of whiffle ball.”
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