A Tycoon Built This Palace In 1979, And When He Died 35 Years Later It Was Practically Untouched

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It’s hard to imagine what your home might look like four decades from now – unless, that is, it ends up looking exactly the same. Yes, that’s precisely what happened to the home of Ralph Levin, a scrap metal tycoon who built his own palace in 1979, complete with all the hallmarks of the era. And nearly 40 years later, it still bears all those symbols of a decade gone by. Indeed, it’s an absolutely fascinating window into the past.

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Levin lived a fruitful and prosperous life. Indeed, in 1942, he founded his own business, Sturgis Iron and Metal, which he ran for more than six decades before retiring in 2008. The scrap metal shredding firm is still operational today, having been acquired by Steel Dynamics Inc. And it’s still just as successful.

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Levin’s life didn’t revolve entirely around work, of course, no matter how successful his business. In fact, he had a number of hobbies, such as collecting cars, and he showed a keen interest in quarter horses. Meanwhile, he was even given the honor of “Citizen of the Year” in the city of Sturgis, Michigan where he lived.

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Levin died in 2014, at the ripe old age of 92. And two years later, his wife Renee – to whom he’d been married for 56 years – also passed away. Together, they’d had seven children, 13 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Indeed, he led a long and productive life.

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Since the Levins’ deaths, however, their home in Sturgis has been left vacant. And now it’s back on the market – and it hasn’t changed at all from its original design. Indeed, it’s a veritable time capsule: a window into an era long gone and all the questionable design aesthetics that came with it.

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Indeed, the Levins built the house in 1979, and it’s accordingly full of all the hallmarks of the time. But first and foremost, it’s an absolute palace of a property simply in terms of its grand size. Yes, it isn’t anything like the typical homes you’d find in Sturgis, Michigan. In fact, it’s nothing like the typical home anywhere in the 21st century.

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With four bedrooms, two bathrooms and two half-bathrooms, it may at first glance sound pretty unassuming. But then you realize the house offers a whopping 6,498 square feet of living space, and sits across 1.8 acres of land. And suddenly, it begins to sound much more like the palace that it is.

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The house is also full of the kind of luxury amenities that make it noteworthy. For instance, there’s an enormous indoor pool, complete with dressing rooms and a slide. Meanwhile, a sauna and hot tub round out the spa experience, alongside a home bar.

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The main, ground-floor level of the house contains all four bedrooms, along with the open-plan living space that leads on to the kitchen and dining area. And the master bedroom even has a spiral staircase that leads to a below-ground level, where the swimming pool and sauna are located, alongside a game room and another kitchen.

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Indeed, it’s clear that there’s plenty of space for entertaining guests – and that’s exactly what the Levins did. They had friends to visit who may well have enjoyed gaming on the machines Levin installed.

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However, no matter how astonishing the layout of the house, it’s really the décor that’s most reminiscent of the period in which the property was built. And despite more than four decades passing since its construction, its look hasn’t changed at all.

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From the velvet staircase to the shag purple carpets that line the rooms, it doesn’t really get more ’70s than this house. Indeed, anyone old enough to remember that time will no doubt look upon these pictures fondly. And that extends, of course, to even the arguably ostentatious features, such as the oversized gumball machine and sculpted bronze tiger.

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“It’s a very contemporary, eclectic style house,” realtor Dennis Bamber told Kalamazoo News in February 2018. “It was designed for luxury, entertaining and living life to its fullest.” Just from the pictures alone, it’s clear that Bamber is absolutely on the money with that description.

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The house is now on the market for a comparatively modest price tag of $375,000. That isn’t modest compared to other homes in the area, of course, which typically fetch about $200,000. But then, this isn’t a typical home – and for its enormous size and features, you could certainly consider $375,000 modest.

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Sturgis is a small town, with a population of just over 10,000 recorded in 2010. And plenty of notable people aside from the Levins were born or have resided there over the years. For instance, actor Verne Troyer and New Mexico Supreme Court justice Frank W. Parker were both born in Sturgis – as was Oscar-winning film editor Paul Weatherwax.

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Indeed, Bamber told the Daily Mail that the house is “an 800-pound gorilla in a small neighborhood.” And despite its humble surroundings, the listings agent estimated that a property of this size could easily fetch $1.5 million. Of course, that’s presumably with modern furnishings, but Bamber also gave a figure for bringing the property up to that value.

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In the final analysis, he reckoned, with about $200,000 or so of investment in a makeover, the house could easily fetch seven figures. “The type of buyer could be someone with kids, it could be someone who’s social and wants to entertain a lot,” Bamber said. “It has to be a buyer that has imagination.”

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Indeed, Bamber pressed how suitable the house is for families. “The [family] pictures I’ve seen from the previous owners, looks like the kids had a ball here growing up here,” he said. And the listing suggests even further uses for the property: as a bed and breakfast, for instance, or even a physical rehabilitation center.

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The house, which sits at 304 S. Lakeview Ave, is currently on the market, with a price per square foot of $58 – and the qualifier that it will need “some work, updating and TLC.” But with 72 photographs of the various rooms and surroundings, showing off how unique the property is, it probably won’t be long before someone snaps it up.

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Indeed, the Levins’ fascinating house now stands as a veritable monument to the past. Where most people redecorate fairly regularly, the very specific furnishings of this home remain the same almost 40 years later. And for anyone who grew up during that remarkable period, it’s almost like the chance to buy a tangible slice of nostalgia.

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