My wife and I decided to look for some lake property in 1999, simply as an “investment.” We had no plans to build a cabin, but thought the value of lake property was likely to appreciate over time. After comparing prices between land in Minnesota and Wisconsin, we found a 1-acre lot on a small Brunet River flowage about 30 miles east of Hayward, Wis., that fit our requirements: small water, quiet, decent fishing, no power boats or loud water sports ­— and affordable.

Our Realtor happened to mention that he had previously sold a small resort, and the buyer offered him a cabin that was on the property (and had been moved to his lake lot). The Realtor said we might want to consider such a cabin as a good starter and less expensive than new. He knew of a resort owner who had a few 20- by 24-foot cabins up on blocks that had originally been at Grand Pines Resort on Round Lake (and home to the first Famous Dave’s eatery), near Hayward. The resort owner had no intention of doing anything with them and was interested in selling. On a whim and totally ignorant of what it would take to move them, we offered to buy two of them. The offer was gladly accepted.

Unfortunately, it took over a year and a half to get them moved to our property. Only the original mover would touch them (“house movers’ code”). Once we finally got the move arranged, we had a concrete slab poured and had the cabins set down at a slight angle and apart from each other. We built a two-story section adjoining the two, and basically gutted the inside to redesign and rebuild. Today, we have a 1,600-square-foot lake place that we thoroughly enjoy. We’ve worked on it for more than 10 years and take pride that we’ve done everything ourselves, except the plumbing. Although neither my wife nor I have any formal construction knowledge or experience, we have enjoyed our project and always find something else to do to enhance it and make it more ours.

What began as an investment idea has become a wonderful retreat that becomes better and more enjoyable every year. We wonder, however, if we would have ever attempted such a project if we’d known what it would take. Sometimes ignorance and naiveté can be qualities for which to give thanks! And we think it’s kind of fun to be living a little bit of Famous Dave’s history.


Ron Hagberg, Anoka