In the early 2000’s, my husband, Tom, sold his company, took what was to be a temporary early retirement and set out on a road trip on his own. We had moved to Minneapolis from New York City years prior and were raising our three children and growing his company so he really hadn’t explored this part of the country before. It was exciting for everyone, sending Dad off on this adventure. After some days in northern Minnesota, Tom recalled having heard about an island, somewhere not too far away that shared the name of his mom, Madeline. On a whim, he headed in the direction of Madeline Island. Arriving on a Friday night, he saw lights across the water and thought to himself, “well, if there are lights, surely there must be hotels and vacation rentals.” So he left the car, grabbed his daypack and hopped on the last ferry for the night. You can imagine his surprise when he got off the ferry and didn’t find resorts and hotels! Luckily though, he did find an Inn and they had one room left! In those days, there were no keys for the doors and it was pre-cell phone. His New York mind didn’t know what was happening when they said they would put a note on his bed if his wife called while he was out. That night, Tom walked in to town, sat at a bar, chatted with a few strangers who somehow felt like friends, chuckled as a police officer came in to find a patron just to let him know his dog had gotten out, and listened to some incredible live music for free! It was the quickest unwinding and reminder of the importance of simple freedoms one could ask for. When he called me the next day, he sounded like a new man. What was this place he discovered?
That was in spring. By fall, he had not forgotten about the island for a moment and brought me here for our anniversary in September. We drove around the island, biked around the island, walked around town…sat, dreamed, talked, looked at the lake, watched the sunset. But something wasn’t right. Tom didn’t have energy and hadn’t felt well for months. We began a journey of discovery of all sorts; spiritual, emotional, and physical. By mid-winter, Tom was diagnosed with cancer. Let me interject here that life really does happen as it is meant to. We were a young family traversing unknown territory and had found a piece of paradise all at the same time. God couldn’t have planned it any better.
Very shortly thereafter, Tom purchased the property on which this house stands. The main house was already there, though it appeared to be a rectangle with grey aluminum siding. There was no deck or screened in porch, no stairs to the beach and no dock. There was no guest house or garage. This became the project. Greg Nelson built the most amazing set of steps to the dock that Ronnie and Arnie Nelson built in the water. Carl Brooks added cedar shakes and a porch on the main house. And then Tom drew on a piece of graph paper what he wanted for the guest house. There were no blue prints. Carl just used the rough drawing. Our three children, who were between 8 and 11 at the time, helped to raise the first wall to the structure. The wood and most materials are made of sustainable material. There was one tree taken in order to build it and you can see we put it pretty much back where it was here inside the house. The walls are hand brush painted (not a roller) with a designer Ralph Lauren textured paint that took almost a month to complete. Thinking about his children and the someday grandkids, Tom was sure to put in an extra special loft with a look out window. We agreed over and over again, “this is a place for people to come and make memories”. It took three years to complete it, just in time for Tom to take in his last sunsets at the end of his journey with us. We felt blessed beyond measure to land here. It is filled with magic.
Our family’s hope is that you fill it with your own memories.
- Nicole Pugliese, Owner