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Continued: Magical Madeline Island comes to life

  • Article by: LYNN UNDERWOOD , Star Tribune
  • Last update: September 14, 2013 - 5:33 PM


Q: You describe a minimalist home designed by architect David Salmela as “two black sheds,” which is obviously not for everyone. How did you choose the homes for the book?

LM: That was the trick, because there certainly were lots of choices. I wanted a mix of old and new. They range from architect-designed to Barbie Brown’s trailer.


Q: How did you shoot the cottages and cabins?

KM: It was clear that the people loved them and inhabited them so fully. I decided to use natural light so you get a sense of the space as it’s lived in. Barbie Brown’s trailer was a favorite place because it was totally hers and idiosyncratic. And I loved shooting all the wonderful porches.


Q: Did you have a connection to any of the homes?

KM: I have an affinity for the honeymoon cottage because I did, in fact, honeymoon there in 2010 after getting married on the beach. It’s a cozy one-room with a bed. It’s tiny and perfect. It smells like wood and dust.


Q: Which was a “wow” house for you?

LM: The Donna Woods cottage. It’s new and beautiful but manages to have some of the quirkiness and intrigue of the old places, which is really hard to do. Seeing it was one of the inspirations to do the book.


Q: You’ve written an in-depth history of each home. How did you find all those dates and details?

LM: Most of the stories were from people who owned them. So much has been passed down orally and not documented. I spent some time at the Madeline Island Museum and Wisconsin Historical Society, read books and talked to a lot of people.


Q: What’s a fascinating fact related to the history of the island?

LM: I love the story of Grant’s Point. It was a sacred place that has been described as the Wal-Mart of the Lake Superior region because Native Americans would come there to trade furs and share food and celebrate rendezvous. That’s where the French fur trader Michel Cadotte married Chief White Crane’s daughter and named her and the island Madeline.

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