Tour of Lillie House


Welcome to a virtual tour of our home, built by the Lillie Family sometime in the mid 1800s.

For many years now, we’ve been looking for a better way to live. For us, that meant a lot of what we’d read about in the “back to the land movement,” more freedom, more simplicity, a lighter footprint and a deeper connection to our ecosystem. 

But coming from the suburbs, we missed the rich connection to culture, education, friends and community of living in the city. So we found an acre in a college town with a beautiful old house. 

In our three years here, we’ve started transforming the place through the tools of Permaculture design. You can learn all about Permaculture here.

Unlike the “hard work” gardens we had in the past, our garden works for us now.

We don’t till, we don’t spray or fertilize, we rarely weed, and hardly ever water.

Yet It provides us with fruit, herbs, vegetables, and salads virtually every day of the year, and a true relationship with nature and our food. 


Ecologically modeled “food forests,” as well as edible hedgerows, and perennial guilds, conscript plants and wildlife into doing much of the work for us. 


And creating diversity not only saves on garden work, it brings in a wide variety of wildlife into our lives.


And Permaculture has taught us the value of using “restoration” to save money and time. Old houses can be the “easiest” houses for the same reason that they can be the 
greenest houses: materials.

They evolved in a time when things were made with quality materials meant to last, with designs intended to be maintained indefinitely and lived in comfortably with low energy inputs. 

On top of that, they were made in a time when everything was made to be beautiful. 
A strategy of finding the steps that yield the greatest return on investment has helped save us time and money we can return back to our projects, creating a “positive feedback loop.” 

According to Consumers Energy, simple, low-cost steps have made our big old victorian home one of the top 15% “most energy efficient homes” in the city. 

And, of course, all of this has allowed us to easily transform an empty city lot into a place of beauty and plenty. 

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