The Lamb Lake home of Mary and Lance Fleming offers room for the whole family

By Jon Shoulders

»When Mary and Lance Fleming decided to purchase their three-level home on Lamb Lake in Johnson County, they had many reasons for doing so. The privacy and seclusion of the neighborhood, the abundance of natural sunlight in the master bedroom and central living area, and the extensive additions completed by the previous owner were all attractive considerations. However, one factor trumped all others — it could serve as a refuge for family and friends.

“Above all, we wanted a great gathering space,” Mary says. “We’re retired now, and with four children, 12 grandchildren and our friends, we usually have a crowd of people on the weekends. We do a lot of hosting, and we enjoy it. That’s why we got the house — to share it. We didn’t get it just for the two of us.”

The Flemings purchased the home in 2009, two years before Lance, the former president and CEO of Crenlo, a Minnesota-based manufacturer of construction equipment, retired, and the couple returned to central Indiana permanently. During their initial tour of the house, which was built in the early 1970s and spans approximately 5,000 square feet, the couple was struck not only by the former owner’s additions — which were completed in 2002 and include decorative wooden decking with railings attached to the home’s front and back, constructed with white oak from a Michigan-based wood supplier — but also by how closely the furnishings echoed their own aesthetic preferences.

“We bought the house furnished, but the interesting thing is that we had a whole house full of furnishings that matched theirs — the colors, the style, everything,” Mary says. “So we kept some of our own and gave some to our kids, and then combined some with the furniture that was here. You’d never know which was here and which was ours. The very first time I walked through the house I thought to myself, ‘Wow, we could just move our stuff right in.’”

The home, which features a mansard roof (also known as a French roof), a three-car garage, four bedrooms and three-and-a-half bathrooms, seems tailor-made for entertaining, with a secondary kitchen in the lower level and a sizable dining room table next to the kitchen on the main level, crafted from quartered oak and purchased at Trilogy Gallery in Nashville.

The basement level’s central living space, which currently serves as Lance’s combined office and relaxation area, offers direct access via glass doors and a flight of exterior steps to the 500-acre Lamb Lake, where the Flemings keep a fishing boat, a skiing boat and a pontoon boat docked and ready for family activities in the spring and summer. Those activities, according to the Fleming’s daughter, Sarah, a Fishers resident, typically include fishing, swimming, skiing for the adults and a water table for the younger grandkids.

The lakeside decking consists of cement tile instead of wood, which Lance says has several advantages. “It was a smart and unique choice by the other owner,” he says. “There are extra tiles we can just put in if one breaks, and they never get rotted or have mildew.”

Sarah’s favorite spot on the property is the home’s rear deck, which she says is “big enough to fit our whole family when we are all together in the summer, which is no small task.

“I also love being able to sit out there during different times of day,” she adds. “My family has a very strong love of good Indiana thunderstorms, and the deck gives the perfect opportunity to watch the spring and summer storms roll in over the lake, all while staying dry. One of my favorite views of the house is at dusk coming back into the cove on the fishing boat and seeing the house all lit up from inside.”

The home’s upper level includes two bedrooms equipped with trundle beds, a railed landing, a Jack and Jill bathroom and what the Fleming’s grandchildren, who range from 4 to 14 years of age, call the special room, in which sleeping bags are often rolled out during extended visits. “Every one of the grandkids really get along together surprisingly well,” Mary says. “They like to come up and play around on the second floor landing and peek over the top. We also keep blow-up beds and put them all over the place sometimes.”

The Flemings’ own renovations included a new fireplace in the main living area, several alder bookcases in the upstairs hallway for Mary’s extensive book collection and a complete remodeling of the kitchen, which is now outfitted with knotty alder cabinetry, a secondary island sink and an abundance of granite countertop surface area for entertaining large groups. “The kitchen is designed so a lot of people can work in it,” Mary says. “We usually just put all the food out on the countertops on platters, and that’s how we feed people when we host. We had 50 people in here for a church staff gathering, and you’d think it would have been too crowded, but the house is designed great for it.”

After meeting at Michigan State University where Mary studied social work and Lance studied engineering and business, the Flemings lived in several cities throughout the Midwest, including Chicago, Minnesota and Indianapolis. Before taking over CEO duties at Crenlo in Rochester, Minnesota, in 2003, Lance worked for 25 years at Rexnord Corp. on Rockville Road in Indianapolis while the couple lived in Carmel. Upon Lance’s official retirement from Crenlo in 2011, the Flemings, now in their 60s, felt central Indiana would be a sensible spot for staying in constant touch with their children, Jason, 41 (Cincinnati), Kelly, 40 (Eugene, Oregon), Sarah, 33 (Fishers) and Alex, 26 (Rochester, Minnesota).

When not hosting company or visiting their kids and grandkids, Lance and Mary enjoy driving to Bloomington for farmers markets and seasonal shows at the Indiana University Auditorium. Wintertime finds the couple in Maui each year, and last fall they enjoyed a two-week European river cruise that ran from Budapest to Amsterdam. Both spend time volunteering at Emmanuel Church of Greenwood, and Mary recently began volunteering as part of a Bible study ministry at the Johnson County Jail while Lance serves in various volunteer capacities at Shepherd Community Center in Indianapolis and New Song Mission in Brown County.

“The house has been a great place because it is functional for our family no matter the ages of the children and has been able to grow and change as the kids have grown,” Sarah says. “I call the house my happy place, as it’s somewhere I feel comfortable and my kids are comfortable. No one ever complains when we tell them we are going to grandma and granddad’s.”