Forest Lodge was built in the early 1900s by the Livingston family of St. Paul, MN as a private getaway. The Adirondack-style camp boasts several buildings, many of which were in need of rehabilitation. The Forest Service plans to repurpose Forest Lodge as the “Camp David” of environmental and ecological research. Forest Lodge is a complex of several buildings, including one that floats! The north woods enveloping the complex appeal to adventurers and vacationers alike.
Backstory and Context
The historic Forest Lodge estate is located eight miles east of Cable, Wisconsin, in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest in northern Wisconsin. Nestled among old growth forest, this unique north woods retreat is situated along two-plus miles of Lake Namekagon’s pristine southern shoreline. Lake Namekagon is the headwaters of the Namekagon River, part of the St. Croix National Scenic River, a unit of the National Park Service.
There are twelve structures on the Forest Lodge property, many of which are not yet renovated for public use. By 2020, it is expected that all of the buildings will be available for public use.
In 1999, the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest accepted a gracious donation from Mary Griggs Burke of her 872 acre Forest Lodge estate with an obligation to “provide environmental research and educational programs on or related to the Mary Livingston Griggs Special Management Area.” Mary Griggs Burke donated Forest Lodge for the preservation of its unique property and to cultivate it as a premier center for environmental leadership, sustainability, and conservation education.
The property had no previous permit holders or public use. in 2002, Forest Lodge was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Since 2013, Forest Lodge has been in a transition period, having been closed to the public and now open—but with very limited facilities—due to the condition of the buildings. Building rehabilitation and preservation is in progress, and public educational programs began in 2016 for the first time in the property’s history.
Fulfilling the programmatic terms of the Endowment Agreement requires resources and expertise beyond that of the U.S. Forest Service. Therefore, the Forest Lodge Advisory Council and U.S. Forest Service turned to Northland College to develop and implement programmatic outreach. A partnership with Northland will ensure preservation of the estate’s infrastructure through consistent public use.
Limited facilities are in use, and many other others are in need of rehabilitation prior to public use. Only buildings that meet building code regulation, and deemed safe for use by the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest Service, can be utilized for programming. By 2020, it is expected that all of the buildings at Forest Lodge will be available for public use. The duration for complete rehabilitation is limited by available funding from the Forest Lodge Endowment and other sources.
In Summer 2018 HistoriCorps will be returning for our seventh year of preservation work at Forest Lodge. Visit www.historicorps.org to find out how to support this project.