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Return to Lundie cabin feels like home

For Carol Daniels, it was like coming home. Sixty years after she last stayed at the cabin her family had built in Schroeder, she was back, relaxing inside as she gazed out the window overlooking Lake Superior. "The waves are huge this morning, i...

Carol Daniels

For Carol Daniels, it was like coming home.

Sixty years after she last stayed at the cabin her family had built in Schroeder, she was back, relaxing inside as she gazed out the window overlooking Lake Superior.

"The waves are huge this morning, it's just wonderful watching them come in and it just feels very right," said Daniels, 73, as her stay at Shorecreek cabin neared an end last week.

It was the same spot she sat as a child reading books in the 1940s. She was 13 on that last visit in 1949, before her parents sold the cabin that renowned architect Edwin Lundie had designed and built for them on Lake Superior's rocky shoreline in 1941.

She had wanted to revisit the cabin of her childhood for some time.

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She wanted to share the place she had loved so much with her children and grandchildren. And in a journey that brought her from her home in Fort Myers, Fla., she finally did.

While the restoration and changes done by current owners Jim and Mary Schwebel have included luxuries the cabin never had before, the spirit of the house remains, she said.

"The soul of the house is still there," said Daniels, who had rented the cabin and guest house for a 10-day stay. "It still is itself in a way. The feeling of the house, the space, the setting is the same."

The legacy begins

Like Lundie's other clients, Carol Daniels' father could afford the natural materials Lundie liked to use in the picturesque country homes that were his specialty. Thomas L. Daniels was president of Archer Daniels Midland Co. A dozen years earlier, Lundie had built the Daniels family a summer home in White Bear Lake, Minn.

Lundie purchased the North Shore property near Taconite Harbor in 1940. He built a modest cabin for himself on a quarter-section and sold the rest of the property to Daniels and his wife, Frances, of St. Paul. Lundie then built the couple a cabin.

"Mother always liked to have a place to get away to," Carol Daniels said. "Father had bad hay fever. Those two facts came together beautifully with the North Shore."

It's likely the first of more than a dozen North Shore cabins Lundie designed in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. Like Lundie's other distinctive Alpine-inspired cabins that combined a rustic look with detailed craftsmanship, the Daniels cabin is timber-framed with a gable roof, carved columns and posts and a stone fireplace.

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But it's less elaborate than originally planned and less ornamented than the Lundie cabins that followed. And Daniels thinks she knows why.

"My mother said what she wanted was a cabin, nothing fancy, simply a cabin they could go to," she recalled.

Cabin memories

Carol Daniels would go to the cabin for a week or 10 days at a time during the nine years her parents owned the cabin. She was 4 to 13 years old during that time with three much older brothers.

Often, she went there with her nanny. During World War II's gas rationing, they would take the train to Duluth, then a bus up Highway 61. The bus, which continued to the Canadian border, would drop them off at the cabin's long, winding driveway. "The stays were wonderful," she said. "I loved to walk on the rocks. A little girl lived one-half mile away, and we would play. I just remember it as a very wonderful place to be."

The nanny would pull her in the wagon for the three-mile trip to Stickney Inn and Resort to get groceries. But with groceries to haul back in the wagon, Daniels had to walk back.

"I remember very well because sometimes it would be hot," she said.

When first built, the cabin had a hand pump in the kitchen, drawing water from the lake. They used an outhouse for a few years before an indoor toilet was installed. Before a shower was put in, Daniels remembers bathing in a large pothole in the rocks filled with water that would warm up in the sun. She knows the lake level is lower now because that pothole is now dry. Moreover, a spot where she and her mother swam is now too shallow for that.

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She remembers the family's joy in 1945 when it got the news over the cabin's hand-crank telephone that Japan had surrendered and the war was over. Two of her brothers were overseas in the Pacific Theater at the time.

A gentle man

Lundie had the cabin next door.

"He and his wife were often there," Carol Daniels said. "So if they were, my parents would get together with them to talk. They'd come here for dinner or we'd go there."

She remembers Lundie as a nice, gentle man. And as she grew older, the cabin and home he designed and built for her family became her favorite houses.

When Frances Daniels wanted more guest space, she and Lundie figured out how to get two log buildings from the town of Finland to the property. The structures were dismantled, transported on railroad ties over frozen ground in winter and reassembled on site. One served as a bunkhouse and still stands. The other, once the town sauna, was used as a guest house. It was replaced by the Schwebels about eight years ago.

For Carol Daniels, returning to the cabin after 60 years wasn't about sentiment nor closure.

"I would call it kind of a settlement," she said. "I'm feeling very settled now, very grounded. ... It's feeling that I was home."

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