In 1996, newlyweds John and Michelle Klacik built their dream house on 20 acres in the Pinelands village of Sweetwater. Dreams change. The couple currently lives in a smaller house on a much smaller property. But that property features 35 glorious feet of frontage on the wild and scenic Mullica River. "Our first house had four bedrooms, 2½ baths and we had a lot of property," John recalls. "But then we got a boat and once you get a boat you want to be on the river."
For John and Michelle the riverfront location was more than a place to dock their 19-foot Sea Ray. It was a place to observe the natural beauty of the river.
"It's Norman Rockwell type stuff," says John, who recently retired after 32 years with Public Service Electric and Gas. "I mean, where else can you walk out your door and jump in the river for a swim?"
The Klaciks' house, which they purchased 12 years ago, stands on McCormick Avenue, a quiet street off Pleasant Mills Road that dead ends at the river. It's one of about 20 homes on a peninsula formed by the winding Mullica, which twists and turns on its way to the Great Bay. Across the river is Wharton State Forest, a vast tract of undeveloped woodlands that looks much as it must have during the Revolutionary War, when it sheltered legendary outlaw Joe Mulliner and his band of thieves.
The house occupies a narrow lot that measures 35-by-210 feet. Built in 1927 as a two-bedroom bungalow, it was expanded in 1993 to include a second-floor master suite with a full bathroom.
John and Michelle made several improvements over the years. They refurbished the kitchen, adding granite counters, a ceramic tile floor and stainless steel appliance. They installed 3/4-inch-thick random width oak floors and attached a wood stove insert to the magnificent chimney in the living room made of river rock from the Mullica River.
While the house has central air conditioning and propane gas/forced air heating system, John says the wood stove supplies plenty of heat for the entire house. "Last year I only burned two cords of wood," he says.
The floor plan on the ground level features two bedrooms, a formal living room, a kitchen, living room and a full bath large enough to accommodate a stacked washer and dryer. The second-floor master bedroom is furnished with a canopy bed and a paddle fan. Floor-to-ceiling glass doors open to a deck that looks out over the river and Pine Barrens. Inside the supersized walk-in closet is a door to a secret room that John and Michelle use as an office.
Sliding glass doors in the living room lead to a three-season sun room that overlooks a fenced concrete patio. From the patio, a walkway leads down a gentle slope to the river.
John and Michelle used to tie their boat to the floating dock, which rises and falls with the tide. They no longer have the boat, but they use the platform to launch their kayaks or fish for pike, pickerel and striped bass.
Even with the tidal changes, there's plenty of water to float a power boat.
"At high tide we have seven or eight feet of water and at low tide we have about two or three feet." John says.
After a dozen years on the river, the Klaciks, who have no children, are preparing to become snowbirds. With John retired they plan to split their time between a 3-bedroom bungalow in Sea Isle City and another home near the ocean in Jensen Beach, FL. But to do so they'll have to sell their home in Sweetwater.
"When we sell the house we'll spend summers in Sea Isle and winters in Florida," says John. "It will be a dream come true."
For more information on this property, which is listed for $279,000, call Sue Dunphey of RE/MAX Atlantic, 609-287-9587.
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