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Ephraim’s Brown Thumb

Picture Ephraim, and you’ll certainly conjure up an image of white buildings lining the shoreline, the two white steeples of the Ephraim Moravian and Bethany Lutheran churches popping out of the treeline, and sailboats moored in Ephraim Harbor. 

A handful of buildings add splashes of color to the palette. There’s the quaint Firehouse Museum nestled into the hillside, the red-and-white awning of Wilson’s Ice Cream Parlor, the graffiti on the Hardy Gallery on Anderson Dock. Then there’s the Pine Grove Resort on the north end of the village: two stories of brown pine standing on the edge like an ostracized sibling in a family photo. 

So what gives? How did that splash of brown slip through the cracks?

The uniformity of the village look is by design. The Ephraim Historic District Ordinance (governing property between Highway 42 and Moravia Street and extending to the southern end of the village along the highway) calls for all buildings to be white or naturally weathered wood. 

That last point – “naturally weathered wood” – is the caveat that allowed Pine Grove to buck Ephraim’s trend. 

“Surprisingly, I don’t remember it being much of an issue,” recalled longtime clerk Dianne Kirkland, who was at the start of a 26-year career with the village when the resort was built. 

For the staff at Pine Grove, it does offer one added benefit: When people ask how to find the resort, they just tell them to look for the only brown building in town. 

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