Just before the one-lane road descends a half-mile through the woods, the home can be seen perched on the hill ahead. Then, it is not until the very last moment on the drive to the house that it reappears, nestled into the hillside overlooking a two-acre lake. It is a spectacular setting.
“We purchased the 101-acre property in 2006 and spent five years working the land and deciding where to situate the house,” Scott Schuessler says.
A small lake was drained six times while Schuessler and friends rented bobcats on weekends to increase the size of the lake. They also further exposed the white limestone cliff that forms one edge along the shore, and now it towers above the waterline.
Inside, the home is akin to the interior of a lodge in a western national park. Exposed, rough-cut pine beams and trusses support the 30-foot high great room, and a 25-foot tall rock fireplace with a Missouri red cedar mantel takes up much of a wall. Gnarled pine branches form spindles on the stairway leading to the second floor, a tree trunk is now a newel post and every door frame features pine molding.
For years Schuessler had collected home designs of log timbered homes he admired. “I had a 2-inch thick binder of clippings,” he says. “One day I finally went to an architect who put it all together. It took one and a half years to design and build, and we moved into the house in 2012.”
Scott is quick to credit his wife, Johanna, for putting up with his seemingly never-ending do-it-yourself projects and for allowing him to display his hunting trophies. Included are a grizzly bear shot in Alaska that is now a rug in front of the fireplace. Deer and elk mounts line one wall of the great room, across from the 16-point deer daughter Krista shot when she was 12. A flock of ducks and geese of different species hang suspended throughout the great room and kitchen, as if they are migrating through the house.
Behind a sliding barn door off the great room, the king-size bed in the master bedroom was made from Missouri red cedar logs found on the property. “It was not easy to find two curved tree trunks to make the headboard and footboards,” Scott says.
“People usually find the lower level interesting,” he says, making what proves to be an understatement. He hired a Wisconsin woodworker to build a sports bar emblematic of the Cardinals’ stadium. The bar features a curved walnut countertop mimicking the stadium shape. Below the countertop, a 10-foot wide, hand-carved mural of the stadium exterior is interspersed with baseball bats and baseball cards from Scott’s childhood collection. Hand-carved wooden “birds on the bats” plaques anchor each end of the bar.
Behind the bar a recessed large-screen television has been placed to appear as if you are looking onto the ball field. Above the television, the red letters of the marquee that read “Busch Stadium” at the ballpark, spell out “Schuessler.”
Outside, a covered porch wraps around three sides of the home, offering unobstructed views of the lake below. From underneath the house a waterfall gurgles as it falls in stages down a steep rocky slope into the lake.
Then there is the pool area tucked into the hillside with a Hawaiian-resort-size 30-foot-by-60-foot tiki hut with a grass-like roof (that came with a 30-year guarantee). Underneath there is a stone fireplace, a wood-fired pizza oven, a large-screen television and plenty of seating. One end of the hut adjoins the pool with a swim-up bar, which has a row of bar stools just beneath the surface of the water.
The pool area also features a hot tub and a waterslide reached by climbing over a stack of rocks that spout 360 degrees of cascading mini-waterfalls.
Down the hill from the tiki hut, a portion of the shoreline is a white sand beach. Where the sand ends, an 80-foot high pole with a dangling rope swing can be maneuvered to catapult an excitement-challenged junkie far out into the water. If that is not enough of a thrill, a 100-foot-long zip line will drop fearless daredevils close to the inflatable island in the center of the lake.
Timid guests can paddle a canoe across the water to relax under a 50-foot waterfall that plummets over the edge of the limestone cliff on the opposite shore.
“All five of us have to work together to maintain the property,” Scott says. “Johanna works as hard as I do. Not too long ago on a sweltering day, we all spent six hours cutting, splitting and stacking wood, and I asked Krista if she would rather be inside playing video games. Her answer was ‘no.’”
Scott and Johanna Schuessler
Ages • Both are 41
Occupations • He is a physical therapist who recently sold his business that had expanded to five locations. Currently he is involved in real estate development. Johanna is a physician assistant.
Home • Pacific
Family • Daughters Krista, 13; Kinley, 11; and Alison, 6. Natolie is a yellow Labrador retriever. Twenty chickens in the chicken coup are unnamed.