Unforgettable Since 1885

  • May 21, 2019
  • Lutsen Resort

You may have noticed that we’ve been using a new tagline for Lutsen Resort, “Unforgettable Since 1885”. The tagline was designed to showcase what makes Lutsen Resort unique in 2 ways.

black and white photo with people in boat next to dock

1.- Lutsen Resort is a place to make unforgettable memories.
2.- Lutsen Resort is Minnesota’s most historic resort (that is still in operation).

In this blog post we want to highlight 5 pieces of history that you can see when visiting the legendary Lutsen Resort.

1.- The Pump House.
What’s the story behind the concrete building you see so close to the river’s edge? In 1918, Pump HouseC.A.A. decided to bring electricity to the resort. He built a generator near the lodge on the Poplar River. The generator tapped into the power of the river and provided DC-current electricity to the resort as well as about ten other homes in the area. Keeping the water intake pipes in the river clear of debris for flowage was a daily, year-round job. What we call “The Pump House” is special because it was the first hydroelectric generating plant on the North Shore. It’s a representation of how forward thinking the Nelsons were and how the current owners continue to strive to be. The generator was operational until 1941, when power came to the area. How to see it. You can see the pump house via the upper bridge on the Poplar River, as seen in the photo to the right.

2.- The Fireplaces.
You may have heard how the main lodge burnt down twice, in 1949 and 1951. The fireplaces in the lodge are the only parts of the 1949 lodge that didn’t burn down and the lodge was rebuilt around them. How to see it. One fireplace is located in the lobby and the other is in the Strand Waterfront Dining and Wine Bar. The lobby fireplace is a still a true, wood- burning fireplace, while the dining room fireplace has been converted to gas. Both can be seen roaring if the temperatures are under 30 degrees.Historic fireplace
Fireplace and Dispensing Station
The Fireplace in the Dining Room – Then versus Now

3.- The Polar Bear.
A Lutsen Resort classic! The Polar Bear was captured by George Nelson Sr. on a trip to Alaska in 1962. It’s been calling the lodge home ever since. How to see it. The Poplar Bear is in a display case down the hall from the lobby and before the restrooms.

4.- The Docks.
There are a couple docks that move in and out of visibility depending on how the lake and river are moving. One of them is in the river and one is on the edge of the beach. They were likely pieces of larger docks that were built for fishing and boating purposes. How to see it. The Poplar River dock is usually visible in the Spring and Summer. In fact, if you look closely, you can see it on our webcam. The beach dock was visible last Fall for a few days, for the first time in almost 30 years.Lutsen Resort Dock

5.- The Sea Villas.
The Sea Villas have a fascinating history. They were actually built in two phases on two parcels of land separated by a small resort with five seasonal cabins. That resort was owned by the Running Family, and it was purchased in 1990, uniting the two sections of Sea Villas. Still on property are two buildings from the previous resort. What we call “The Running House” was the resort family’s home, and is now used by Lutsen Resort staff for Housekeeping and storage. Also, still in existence is one of the cabins from the resort, what we call the “little red cabin”. It’s used seasonally by Lutsen Resort as staff housing. Without running water or electricity, it takes the right kind of tenant. How to see it. The Running House is located on the left-hand side as you pull into the main driveway to the Guest Service Building. The little red cabin can be found by walking down the path from Guest Services Building toward the playground. But remember – if you go in the summer, there may be someone living there.

The owners and staff of Lutsen Resort have GREAT respect for the history. In fact, the appreciation for the legacy is what most of us have in common, as it’s what attracted us all to this iconic resort to begin with. So next time you are visiting, check out one of these great pieces of history – or find a different one! They’re all over the resort.

You can read more about the history of Lutsen Resort here and here.

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