Recently my wife and I had the privilege of being invited to dinner at an old friends house on Burntside Lake. This was a project I had a small hand in building many years ago.
It must be 15 years ago now, the homeowner, Virgil, initially contacted me about building the home but then decided to have a young contractor that he knew build it instead but they asked if I could be involved as a consultant of sorts for the logwork, actually teaching the contractor, Willie, how to scribe and fit logs and generally think through this project on this incredibly difficult sight.
Willy is a fast learner and a great guy. I don't think I was out there more than a few times during the construction. Turns out he didn't need me much. He just grabbed hold of everything and took off. Still, I like to think I had some small part in the construction of this incredible home and I enjoyed getting out there from time to time and seeing the log shell go up.
As amazing as the house itself is, it is the location that really gives this place it's jaw dropping quality.
It is a lake access site and up high on a huge rock outcropping that overlooks both the main part of Burntside Lake as well as the North Arm... a very special piece of property.
It wasn't just a normal log project, scribing and fitting logs... each log had to be floated across the lake and up this huge mountain of rock and then peeled and sanded and lifted into place then scribed and taken down, cut and put back into place. These were logs that were, many of them, 45 to 50 feet long and up to 24 inches diameter at the butt end. They are Norway Pine so, extremely heavy. Every step of the project was a feat of engineering with cables and winches and pulleys. When I got there they had already spent a year or two building a monster tram system on rails built on huge concrete footings. This was fine for normal materials and tools but the logs were dragged directly up the side of the rock, probably a 150' rise. For the upper logs they built a gin pole contraption that is really impossible to describe adequately here.
After the log shell was done, I really had no part in the finishing of the project but I can only imagine what it must have took for them to get the large windows and doors as well as everything else, across the lake and up to the site.
It was, as one might imagine, a multi year project and a few years later Virgil, the homeowner, heard I was making some doors so asked me to build one for him. So my next trip out to the site was with this huge oak and glass door, standing in a boat with four guys hanging on to it and then getting it on this tram and up to the site...
Everything about the entire project screamed insanity but it was impossible not to be drawn in by that very quality combined with the incredible enthusiasm and energy and unique affability of the homeowner, the man with the vision, Virgil.
I had not been there in many years but have kept in touch with Virgil
and Willie over the years. Willie Anderson is a contractor in Golden
Valley now with his company: http://www.crownmn.com/
But occasionally he still does things up here in Ely and I run into him here and there.
Always the big thinker, more of Virgil's larger than life projects can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Knc0IT4PdFo and at his website here: http://www.virgiltreeart.com/
The house has recently been listed for sale.
The listing for the home and more pictures can be seen here:
The virtual tour can be seen here:
Virgil picked us up at the landing in his boat that beautiful Sunday evening a few weeks ago and we spent a remarkably pleasant evening with he and his wife and two young men employed there for the summer at this amazing house in this incredible location.
Here is a picture of the home as we approached coming up on the tram from the lake: