VIOLA — No mortgage. That’s how Ken and Michelle Workowski have lived all their lives. No, they don’t rent. They actually own a fabulously artistic home in the woods near Viola that was born of their imagination and hard work.
What they managed to do for less than $10,000 and a whole lot of sweat equity is build the home of their dreams. And they lived in it with their three kids as it went up around them.
Ken and Michelle will be the first to admit that their lifestyle and even their point of view is unconventional. These self-proclaimed hippies from the ’70s knew they didn’t want to saddle themselves with debt. They also knew they didn’t want to live in town, and they sure as heck didn’t want to work 9-to-5 jobs.
It turns out, they work much longer hours, but they’re the ones cracking the whip over their own heads, so it doesn’t sting quite so much.
Twenty-five years ago, they and a couple of like-minded friends were looking for property. When they found the 150 acres near Viola, they bought it together and then split it into three 50-acre parcels. Twenty years ago, when the Workowskis’ first house burned to the ground, they decided they had the grit to start over but they would do things differently. This time, they said, they were going to build the house of their dreams one room at a time. And these independent-minded folks agreed to accept help from the townfolk in Viola. That changed their attitude about what community could be, Ken said, because the town rallied around them.