Teacher’s home like treehouse in paradise

Published 5:48 pm Saturday, July 28, 2007

By By ERIKA PICKLES / Niles Daily Star
NILES – Tucked back in the woods, resting on two acres of wooded property is Jack Perham Jr.'s paradise, which you really have to see to believe.
A creek, wildlife of every kind and a feeling that you are one with nature make up this beautifully-landscaped yard.
"I call it my tree house," Perham said, and it's easy to see why.
His property rests on a ravine and is surrounded by big, vibrant trees, most of them Oak and Beech trees.
"This is the backdrop I've always wanted," he said as he stood by his back deck looking out onto the ravine. The deck is surrounded by a blue stone walkway. Only a few feet away from the deck and walkway, the land drops off into a wooded escape, which many creatures call home.
It seems as if you're high in the mountains, which makes it hard for many of Perham's friends and family to leave.
"They say it's like a vacation. It feels like a getaway," because the land and Perham's house resemble a cottage or cabin in the woods.
Walking around the home, Perham explained the different plants, all of which are perennials except the flowers that line the flower boxes on the windows.
"I choose a lot of hydrangeas because I have a lot of deer here and I know they don't like those," he said.
Perham also has one bed with 23 hostas resting where he hopes to put a center piece in the middle of the bed, which is also surrounded by the blue stone walkway.
"I haven't found the right piece yet, but when I do I'll know."
Perham, who admitted he is a very creative person, said this is his way to show his creativity.
"It's my passion. I just use my imagination and create things that I think will work," he said.
If you follow the blue stone path just to the side of the house, another stone walkway leads you to another breath-taking setting. Three natural ponds, an island and a wetland are an added plus and attract a wide variety of birds and other wildlife.
Though they aren't part of Perham's property, he is still able to enjoy the beauty of mother nature.
"I have great neighbors who don't mind sharing," he said.
If all of this isn't enough, it gets even better.
The property is located in a very historical area. In fact, one of the main views from the front and side of the house is the Beeson Mausoleum.
"People always say 'don't you get creeped out?' No way. It's actually very nice to have there. The cement wall blocks a lot of the noise and it has history behind it."
More history lies in the woods that surround Perham's property, where the Native Americans possibly could have camped out when Fort St. Joseph was in its prime.
"I was part of the dig and the archeologist came by one day and looked at the property. He said he would like to do a dig in the woods, as the creek behind the house runs right into the fort site," Perham explained. "Anything I can do to preserve our history and maintain it is a plus."
Perham bought his home and the property just two years ago. He stated there was a lot of dirt and bare spots in the yard, but it didn't matter because Perham had his eyes on the house for a long time.
"I have always wanted this house. I used to live in the Beeson Barn and also knew of the home when I was younger. I told a friend of mine, whose aunt and uncle owned the house at the time, that I was going to live in it one day. She laughed at me and said 'They will never sell it.' Well, time passed and the two passed away. Someone else actually bought the house before me, but they just wanted to flip it, so I bought it and here I am. It's everything I've always wanted."
Perham's living room and bedroom, which are lined with windows that make it seem you are sitting outside, overlook the ravine and tall trees that sit behind the home.
"People call this my mini-Fernwood and really, it kind of feels like it," he said.
Though Perham is passionate about his gardening, he also enjoys the different species of birds that often make appearances in his backyard.
"It's what I've always wanted. This house, a ravine, historical property, it's like my own little cottage tucked away in the woods," and it's definitely the perfect setting, which makes you feel you're not in Kansas – or Niles – anymore.
Perham, a Niles native, has been a teacher for 30 years this fall. He is a third-grade teacher at Howard Elementary School.