The Ephraim Shay House



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The Shay Hexagon House was designed and built by a guy named Ephraim Shay in 1890. He actually sheaved the house inside and out with stamped metal!

This unique home is located in the lakeside resort town of Harbor Springs in northern Michigan.

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So who was this industrious fellow?

Ephraim Shay  was born in 1839 in Ohio. He is known for designing the first Shay locomotive and he subsequently patented the brand.

In addition to the geared steam locomotive that made him famous, Ephraim Shay designed, built and operated the Harbor Springs Water Works, and, created a steel yacht from galvanized sheet metal called “the Aha”.

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Shay was both an inventor and a builder so naturally, his ingenuity transferred to his personal residence as well.

Completed by the year 1892, the Hexagon house was built from stamped steel on both the interior and exterior. The home has six large hexagon-shaped rooms that join in a central section which is open to the second floor. The central portion forms a tower with – you guessed it – 6 sides.

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Shay lived here until he died in 1916.

Here’s a more recent picture from the same angle:

image from: Wikimedia Commons (by:  DuaneFahey)
image from: Wikimedia Commons (by: DuaneFahey)

In the photo above, you can see more clearly how the tin walls were embossed to look like brick and the window frames were made to appear as stone. Even the heavy exterior doors were sheaved with metal that was pressed to resemble carved wood.

Here is a look at the backside of the house:

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Mr. Shay clearly had fun with this one. In fact, his machine shop was located directly across the street from his house. He also dabbled in designing boats and automobiles.

The famous house is still privately owned and has been impeccably restored and maintained. The Shay Hexagon House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

image from: Wikimedia Commons (by: Bobak Ha'Erk)
image from: Wikimedia Commons (by: Bobak Ha’Erk)

Unfortunately, I could not find a single photo of the interior of this marvelous home on the Internet. Since the Hexagon House is a privately owned residence, it is not open to the public. But the owners do generously offer up their home once a year for docent-led tours during “Shay Days” in late July when the town of Harbor Springs celebrates their most famous former citizen.

I missed it this summer – but next summer for sure!







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