An event resembling the home-improvement TV show will take place at the Felt Estate in southern Laketown Township on Wednesday, Sept. 14. Upwards of 200 volunteers will descend on the historic grounds to complete an estimated $70,000 worth of projects over the course of a few hours.

Call it “Extreme Makeover: Felt Estate Edition.”

An event resembling the home-improvement TV show will take place at the Felt Estate in southern Laketown Township on Wednesday, Sept. 14. Upwards of 200 volunteers will descend on the historic grounds to complete an estimated $70,000 worth of projects over the course of a few hours.

“There will be big changes in one day,” Director of the Felt Estate Patty Meyer said.

Michigan Cares for Tourism, a nonprofit organization begun by faculty from Grand Valley State University, selects an historic site in Michigan each year. It then sends a small army of volunteers, many of them being tourism professionals themselves, to overwhelm project lists with sheer numbers.

Michigan Cares for Tourism staged its first volunteer day in 2013 and has sent teams to Chelsea, Belle Isle Park, Sturgeon Point Lighthouse and Fayette State Park. Aiming to spread its efforts around the state, the organization looked to West Michigan — specifically to the old home of industrialist and inventor, Dorr Felt.

Completed in 1928, the 25-room, 12,000-plus square foot house has gone through a number of uses through the years. Sold by the Felt family in 1949, the grounds would be used as a Catholic seminary, then as a prison and law enforcement offices over the next 40 years.

Laketown Township bought the property in the early 1990s and Patty Meyer and her husband began spearheading the mansion’s restoration about a decade later.

“It looked like something out of a Stephen King novel,” Patty Meyer said, about her first look at the old house. “But I’m always the type that can see past that and I saw this was a beautiful mansion at one point.”

Today, the grounds are a popular place for wedding receptions, concerts and other events. Visitors may tour the mansion for a fee.

At this point, the mansion itself is fully restored. The September volunteer day, therefore, will focus on the grounds and secondary buildings surrounding the main house.

Patty Meyer said she has 14 projects lined up and one more in case the volunteers have extra time. Those projects include painting the exterior of the estate’s chapel, resurfacing its tennis courts, repairing stone stairs and relocating the grounds’ abundant prickly pear population.

The biggest effort will see the construction of a 1,000-foot long, handicap accessible trail. The path will run through what has become a wooded area and underneath a row of maple trees that Felt planted. Eventually, Patty Meyer said she would like to begin tapping the trees for syrup, just as Felt did.

The volunteers will also restore what was once a pump house that repurposed Lake Michigan water for the estate’s agriculture. The dilapidated brick building will get a new roof, windows and a door, soon to become bathrooms for outdoor concerts.

Although the projects will happen in a short period of time, Patty Meyer said a lot of prep work has to go into the day. She and a group of organizers have been working all summer to make sure that when the hundreds of volunteers show up on site they have everything they need and know what they are doing.

“Logistically,” Patty Meyer said, “it is a challenge.”

Funding for the project materials and other related expenses will come from a variety of sources, including the estate, the Laketown Township government, Michigan Cares for Tourism and other sponsors, both local and otherwise.

The volunteers themselves will even chip in, paying a registration fee for the chance to serve. That money then goes into their projects.

In the last decade and a half, volunteer hours and donations from the community have powered the Felt Estate’s restoration. As a result, Patty Meyer said, the property “isn’t owned by any one person. It’s totally a community-owned place.”

“I have grandparents that come in with their grandkids and say ‘I repaired all of the molding in this room, it was in terrible shape,’ and they have to tell the whole story of it,” Patty Meyer said. “That kind of ownership is what I love.”

And with the volunteer day, she said, the estate’s community of owners will get that much bigger.

Anyone interested in joining the volunteer day on Sept. 14 can register at the Michigan Cares for Tourism website.

— Follow this reporter on Twitter @CPWhitmer.