Historic Birch Lodge

Historic Birch Lodge
Historic Birch Lodge, Trout Lake, MI

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Selling our Wilderness Lakefront Home

Print Friendly and PDF Our decision to buy Birch Lodge was a difficult one. We were pretty happy with things the way they were. Bill is an independent consultant doing historic preservation and archaeology, and my role is chief assistant and bottle washer. We built a new home downstate, but decided to make our "second home" our main residence.

Blush Lake aka Farm Lake, Big Island Wilderness Area
Blush Lake, Big Island Lake Wilderness Area

Our home now is a 32 acre in-holding in the Big Island Lake Wilderness area. This is roughly half-way between Munising and Manistique in Michigan's Hiawatha National Forest. We have the only private frontage on a 93 acre lake, the rest being owned by the National Forest Service. Our road is snow-plowed to our drive, and from their begins as a snow mobile trail in the winter. Oddly, we have high speed internet and underground utilities, so Bill can do his work from home.

From our deck we have watched eagles, loons, otters, a porcupine nursing her baby, and wolves.
The lake is shallow, but does have blue-gill, perch and pike. I kayak on the lake, and rarely is there another boat because they must carry in about 1/4 mile from the road. The wilderness area is strictly non-motor and carry in. We hike in the wilderness area, a chain of lakes, as well as the Pictured Rocks along lake Superior, thirty minutes to the north.

We especially enjoy a pair of Trumpeter swans who nest in the wetlands adjacent to our lake. Every year they bring their cygnets on to the lake to grow a bit before they go off into the wilderness area. They view our landing as a safe haven, and even have brought their cygnets up into the yard for some grass and to doze in the sun.

It will be really, really hard to leave this. We realize that if we sell, there is no finding another place like this. We looked for years for it--wilderness, but with access. But the lodge is special to us, and in the end we realize that the wilderness will get along without us, but not too many people would be willing to try to save the lodge.

We spoke with the Forest Service about buying our property to complete the Wilderness holding on our lake, but funds are not available. We also contacted some nature conservancies, but funding is an issue for them as well. Consequently, we have listed through a realtor, and hope we can find a conservation oriented buyer. For more information about our home for sale, go to our blog on our Big Island Lake Wilderness Home.

History of the Lodge

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Birch Lodge, Trout Lake, MI 1990's
Birch Lodge, Trout Lake, MI 1990's
Birch Lodge currently sits on 19 acres with 1/4 mile of frontage on Big Trout Lake (aka Carp Lake), just west of the village of Trout Lake, Michigan off of Hwy 40. Now listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the lodge was built in 1911 by Dr. Edgar Ford as a T.B. sanitarium and summer resort. At the time the fresh air of the north woods was considered "restorative" and part of the cure. Dr. Ford died shortly before the lodge was completed, and the lodge was opened as a summer resort.

Described in the St. Ignace newspaper of Oct., 19111, the lodge was the "ultimate design complete from health, pleasure and recreation points of view". In addition to the guest rooms, a recreation room, large dining room, kitchen and laundry; the doctor included a private office and consulting room, and a hospital facility in the back wing. Also offered for the guests were boating equipment, and a dance pavilion.

The lodge was purchased in 1954 by Cliff and Ann Badgley, who remodeled part of the lodge into the "Birch Bar", which was the area hot spot until Cliff's death in 1981. The Badgley's also built an eight unit motel in 1964. The motel accommodations were designed to take full advantage of the lake views, with large rooms having picture windows on the lake side.

Much loved by guests, Ann continued to run the business, although she closed the lodge and focused only on the motel to keep things manageable. Ann has passed away, and we have now purchased the property with the intention to preserve the lodge and restore it to it's function as a "restorative" lodging for summer guests. Our plans are continue to take motel reservations while the lodge is converted to a bed and breakfast.