Our cottage has a rich history. We love to tell its story: We found it on a frigidly cold day in January 2012, buried under about three feet of snow and in need of lots of tender, loving care.
Yet in our mind’s eye, we could see the immense potential it held, and we immediately put in an offer. It has taken a ton of sweat equity to bring it back to its glory days.
We call it Lakestone Cottage because of the unique and beautiful stone work. It sports amazing stone columns that define the yard, along with flower planters, bird baths, a patio wall, and garden benches, all hand-constructed in the 1930s from stones straight out of Lake Mille Lacs.
On land originally bought in the late 1800s by a plucky single gal named Clara Tupper, the compound has twice been used as a working family resort. Guest cabins were added in the late ’40s and early ’50s, and the cottage was remodeled in the 1970s, when it became a private lake home for the next 40 years (up until we bought it).
The guest cottages, as we call them, are all housed in one building. This row of four rooms served guests with accommodations of the day, and still have their original numbers — “One” through “Four” — on each door. A larger family cabin known as Five rounds out the lineup, and was likely the first original cabin on the property. An old icehouse sits at the back of the property.
There is also a wonderful, old cinder block boathouse, to which we have added a great gathering space up top called The Adiron-deck. We also have added many modern amenities, such a pole barn for cars, tools and lake toys; an outdoor shower enclosure; a paved lane to a boat ramp; and a potting shed that matches the cottage.
Another highlight of the property is a fire ring with a set of swings that overlooks the lake. One of the swings is inscribed as a memorial to my sister, Dana, who died of cancer a few years ago. Her dying wish was to see the ocean one last time. When her deteriorating condition prevented us from getting her there, we brought her here, to this sweet spot. She proclaimed it her ocean. We celebrated her life by building the area. The middle swing is inscribed with the words “Dana’s Ocean.”
While we love calling the Twin Cities home, we feel so blessed to have our precious little place at the south end of Mille Lacs to call our family getaway. It’s a safe haven, a celebration place, and a restorative setting to reconnect, grow closer and create sweet memories.
Danise McMillen, Chanhassen