In 1975, my wife and I looked to buy a piece of forest land that would add personal ownership to the camping experiences our young family had enjoyed over the years.

Almost immediately, 15 white pine-covered acres on a small lake called invitingly. We learned that the property was affordable and its location, north of Little Falls, was only two hours from our home. The purchase was quickly consummated and a new era of camping on our own land began.

Fast forward 30 years to 2005. By then an outhouse had been added to the now-expanded, 25-acre family compound. More important, the original family of five had aged and grown in numbers to 16. It was time to add permanence to the site in order to expand to year-round usage.

Over the next few years a winterized camper was found and trucked to the land. A logger rerouted and expanded our access trail. Several Norway pines were felled, and a portable sawmill turned them into 1-by-6 lumber for future interior dressing. A building site, overlooking the lake, was chosen and cleared.

In late 2010, I drew plans for a simple cabin, using my background in architectural design and construction. The family discussed the ideas at Christmas dinner.

We decided to enlarge the structure into a 16-by-32 lodge using natural materials. We would create a loft, and the major windows would face the lake. There would be no electricity, no water and no septic system because the cabin was considered a simple family retreat. Burning the plentiful logs, present on the land, would heat the structure. Propane would run a refrigerator and a cook stove. In addition, with the exception of the foundation, the lodge would need to be designed so that it could be built by the family.

On Memorial Day in 2011, we installed a base flooring system over concrete piers. We then built, raised and bolt-connected 12 individual walls, establishing a modified post-and-beam system that would act as the structural skin. A large timber, running the length of the building, was lifted into place. Roof joists, tongue-and-groove lumber and steel paneling completed the roofing system. By Labor Day, the structure was enclosed and winterized.

The exterior comprises cedar, glass and steel. The finished interior showcases tongue-and-groove white pine with a feature wall of the aforementioned lumber of the land.

Ten years after the decision was made to expand to year-round usage, the family has grown to 26 members. The lodge is visited in all seasons.

One of the most satisfying aspects of this communal family project, was that it resulted in a permanent legacy that will be enjoyed by all generations. Hence the name: The Legacy Lodge.

David Allan, Minnetonka