Our lake home on Big Sandy Lake in north-central Minnesota was built in 1865 by Norwegian immigrants Ingebret and Gjertrud Martinson. The house was located just north of Lake Mills, Iowa.

For more than 100 years, the structure was used as a farmhouse. Generations of Martinsons and Juvelands were born, lived and died there.

The home was moved aside in favor of a new farmhouse in the 1960s. In the 1990s, Terrasol Restorations of St. Peter bought the house. We then contracted with them to move it to the lake.

Our goal was to reconstruct the building as if it had been built by the Martinsons in their hometown of Vik, Norway. The result was a building with handmade casement windows, fascia boards with a scalloped trim and porches in the Medieval style. The garage was built in the board-on-board style — another common approach in Norway.

We added a one-story immigrant log building from Stetsonville, Wis., for the kitchen.

For a final touch we copied a 1704 porch from Telemark, Norway. This involved many hours of cutting, shaping and lifting large timbers with block and tackle.

The house sits perched on a bluff above a peninsula on the east side of Bill Horn Bay. Across the bay to the northeast is the entrance to the Prairie River and the savanna portage. This river was an arterial route for the French, British and American fur trade and for American Indians (Dakota and Ojibwe) for centuries.

Our years at the lake have been filled with projects and the memories of many family vacations and get-togethers. However, our fondest memories include: the woods, the silence, morning coffee and conversation on the front porch, watching the light sparkle like diamonds off the water, and evening dinner on the back porch while watching the sunset over the bay.

Now, after all those lovely years, it’s time to move on, and we are hoping someone with an appreciation for what we have created will carry on the tradition.


Michael and Marilyn Miller, Minneapolis