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"Hidden Paradise"

Log Home Living, March 1995

 

World travelers find there's no place like a log home.

 

Peggy and Tom Corrigan's log home is a showplace for mementoes of their travels, the result of Tom's 30 years helping develop airports in Asian and Pacific nations. Now they rarely venture forth, content instead to enjoy life in their log home. They've even named it "Shangri-La," after the hidden paradise in James Jilton's novel Lost Horizon, both to tie in their Far East experience and because to them it is the perfect, most idyllic spot anywhere on earth. Their tranquil existence is quite a change from the fastpaced life they used to live. And it came about quite unexpectedly.

 

They were living in a condo in Pasadena, California, when they read a travel article about the writer's most favorite places. One was Orcas Island, one of the San Juan Islands in northwest Washington. The description appealed to them, so they decided to vacation there.

 

They loved it and hunted up a realestate agent, who had a threeacre hillside lot overlooking an inlet with a view of the mountains on Vancouver Island across the Strait of Georgia. People on the island said it usually takes months to find the right land, Peggy says. "We got off the ferry and two hours later had our lot."

 

Building a log home for their perfect spot was less of an impulse. Tom is from Kansas and used to vacation in Minnesota, where he was familiar with log lodges. Early in the 1980s, as the couple began to formulate their dream, it involved living in the woods by the water in a log cabin. They even cut out a picture of a log home from a magazine and hung it on the wall to remind them of their thendistant goal.

 

Once they had their lot, the dream began taking shape. They sketched out the floor plan they wanted and chose a log home producer: PrecisionCraft Log Structures, a manufacturer in Idaho, which offered them kilndried, 1-inch, double tongueandgroove, milledround logs of lodgepole pine. Using the Corrigans' sketch, Precision Craft drew up plans for a 3,100squarefoot home.

 

Tom and Peggy wanted a vacation place that they later could retire to, but the more they got involved in planning the home, the more they realized that they couldn't wait. Peggy quite her job as a hospital administrator, and Tom, whose company headquartered in Los Angeles, arranged to work out of his new home, linked to his office with modern electronics. The only way off the island is by seaplane or ferry.

 

This remoteness posed little problem for the Corrigans' builder, Quality Log Homes by Sevieri & Company since Orcas Island's ferries can accommodate logbearing trucks. The site itself was another matter. Bill Sevieri recalls it being one of the most difficult sites he has worked. It's mostly rock, which had to be drilled to provide support for the foundation. He also couldn't get a crane on site to move logs and had to use a handrigged device. He also had to pump in concrete for the foundation.

 

The foundation was poured in January 1992, and the home finished that September. About halfway through the project, the Corrigans left of a twoyear stint to Indonesia.

 

Fortunately, they had discussed most of the critical details with Bill before they left. "It was great in one sense because we had no owner looking over our shoulder to secondguess our work," Bill recalls. "But never being sure they'd like it was quite a stress producer."

 

Bill especially worried about the interior and exterior wood stain. Peggy wanted the inside stained dark because of the brass in her decor. Bill was apprehensive until he saw the results, then he chose the outside stain without her knowing and was afraid it wasn't dark enough. "But when they came back to take delivery of the house," he says, "she loved it."

 

Since moving in, they enjoy the solitude and being surrounded by woods and water, just as they dreamed of. "We're enjoying our golden years now," Tom says. "It's like a vacation everyday."

 

Truly, ShangriLa is a hidden paradise that lives up to its name.