Naniboujou Lodge near Grand Marais, Minnesota was built in 1928 as a retreat for the ultra-rich, but never quite got off the ground. That is perhaps why the lodge, which is listed on the National Resister of Historic Places, has a kind of faded mystique about it. Once planned as a 3,000 acre resort, the property foreclosed after the stock market crash of 1929.
The dining room alone, is a main draw. A spell-binding pattern of colors splash from the ceiling and walls, its artistic origin not quite able to be placed. The lodge brochure attributes the artistic style to that of the Cree, a First Nation in Canada whose people also inhabited northern Minnesota at one time. There is also a hint of the Art Deco-era.
The grounds are adjacent to Lake Superior and many of the 24 lodge rooms have a direct view. There are no televisions or wi-fi access, adding to the unplugged and detached-in-time feel of the place. A scattering of lawn chairs, and nothing else, along the shoreline invite contemplation.
Since the 1920s, the lodge has changed hands several times. Current owners Tim and Nancy Ramey have owned it for the past four decades. Visitors are able to take a part of the lodge with them, via colorful sweatshirts, a historical reproduction keepsake book, puzzle or the ubiquitous trucker hat. Most evenings, the dining room is full: family gatherings, reunions, solo travelers or anyone wanting to soak up some of the color-blocked ambiance. And if you’re lucky, you might get a taste of Mrs. Ramey’s homemade sweet rolls while there.
This story was published August 21, 2018.