The Story of Funk's Lodge
The story of Funk's Lodge begins in the summer of 1944, just nine months before the end of WWII. Jazz was king and Louis Armstrong and Benny Goodman were on the radio when Edward Funk and his sons, driving north to resort country, received a tip that the fabulous hunting lodge built by "Big Bill" Bonifas was for sale up in resort country on Lake Gogebic with a mile of frontage.
Bill Bonifas was a timber baron of the 1920's who amassed great wealth, but he was a frugal man. It is said that his only extravagance was the construction of his fabulous lodge. Bonifas built this tremendous facility in 1924 using lumber and log beams cut from his sawmill in nearby Marenisco. It was under construction before a road could be built, so building materials had to be floated across the lake and skidded across the winter ice.
The Escanaba Daily Press reported the Firestones and DuPonts were early guests. Edna Furber wrote "Come and Get It" here, a story that became a motion picture by Samuel Goldwyn, starring Walter Brennan and Edward Arnold. Bonifas built it for the good life, but that was not to be. He died shortly after its completion. The great lodge had hardly been used.
Meanwhile, down in America's heartland Edward and Jennie Funk and their sons and daughters were building a fiercely independent family business. The Funk name is one of the most recognized names in American row crops. For 50 years you couldn't miss the Edward J. Funk & Sons or Super Crost name in corn and soybean country. It was a dynasty built by a large family that made their fortune the old fashioned way: they earned it! Earned it in turbulent times with hard work, traditional values, smart ideas, resilience in adversity, and innovation ... like building a business with incentive travel.
The crisp first light of dawn comes with the smell of buckwheat pancakes served flowing with maple syrup made in the sugar bush right here on the property.
There's a trap range to get you ready for the thunder flush of a grouse, a kennel for the setters, pointers, and black labs, a trout stream and a three-acre trout pond, and a guide to show you where and how. There are miles of walking trails or, if this is your mood, a fabulous sun porch with green lawns and Adirondack chairs, shaded by oaks, hemlocks and pines 300 to 400 years old, with a sunset view and a long view down the big lake. In the evenings there's camaraderie and a cozier ambiance, bands and sing-along with split maple logs in the big fireplace crackling in harmony.
Whether it's a gathering in the Guides' Room after a day in field and forest shooting grouse over the dogs, fly fishing for trout, or perhaps coffee on a cool morning on the Front Porch, or a sunset cruise up the lake on the Shooting Star, it's the simple pleasures that are best. Like home-cooked dinners in a pine paneled dining room with flickering candles, a glass of fine wine, laughter, tall tales, and old friends.
This 15,000SF lodge, and the shop, art studio, boathouse, Guide House and four cabins still occupy that mile of frontage on Gogebic. It's the finest land holding on the largest lake in the Upper Peninsula. Antique and mellow as they appear, these buildings are as rock sound as the Funk family can make them, which is saying something. The lodge even has a sprinkler system for fire protection! There's a custom built walk in wine cellar in the Lodge. Trout stream, trout pond and miles of walking trails are in. And here's the kicker: It's all yours, "turnkey".
"Turnkey" includes furniture of the Arts & Crafts Bungalow era designed for these buildings, built in the 1920's in Grand Rapids. And there are snowshoes, fishing rods and outdoor gear of all kinds. Historic treasures that enrich the comfortable, friendly patina of this place are included along with all the modern conveniences, such as wireless Internet, satellite TV and flat screen televisions. "Turnkey" means ready to use.
Dig deeper and you'll find "turnkey" includes an 18 foot Boston Whaler perfect for exploring the Slate River, a 22 foot Bennington Pontoon rigged to comfortably fish 4 people, and a Ski Nautique ready to tow the water sports enthusiasts on skis and wakeboards.
Paddle around on one of the kayaks or canoes for your sunrise workout and you'll maybe hear the call of a Loon. Be sure to save some time for a sunset cruise on the Shooting Star, the 28-foot mahogany Mays-Craft that was painstakingly restored to perfection right here on the premises and is docked in a boathouse in the only private harbor on the lake right in front of the lodge.
You'll discover "Cabin 8", a pine paneled cabin in a grove of giant hemlock and pine with a commanding view over the great lake from what has to be the best building site on Lake Gogebic. You'll discover that this place is well run and tightly managed. The evidence is clear -- even the woodworking and maintenance shop and boat storage area are clean and neat as a pin. The whole place is that way, as nearly perfect as it can be. Look closer, look under the skin, and it looks even better!
The reason that this lodge is even more appealing when you see the detail is because the Funk family has always valued and trusted their employees. One of the intangible and invaluable assets is the small staff that is willing to stay on with a new owner. The staff has a combined 100 years of history with the Funk family. They don't just know every inch of the property, they care about it, and it shows. They don't see this as a job, but rather a career of stewardship of this great property and creating an experience for the people who visit it. The Funk's have always known the property is exceptional, but people make being there carefree. If you want a hiking guide for the Porcupine's, fresh fruit and milk in the kitchen on your arrival, or just knowing that the lodge is secure and maintained in your absence, the staff has it covered.
Check out the area and you'll find three major ski areas, numerous outstanding restaurants just over the line in northern Wisconsin, and Gogebic Lodge, Fish Tails and the Root Cellar here on Lake Gogebic. Go to dinner in the Mays-Craft! This is an established vacation area with all the touches you'd expect like golf courses and little resort towns like Boulder Junction, great places to shop and explore the rich timber and mining history and legends of the region. There are also things you might not expect like dog sleds for hire in winter. Try that when the Northern Lights light the clear winter sky. Winter picnics on the trail are a tradition here.
The more you look the more you'll discover. Take waterfalls: You'll find them up the Slate River 4 miles by boat and a small walk. There's Fudson Falls, Yondota Falls, and the lovely Kakabika Falls on a Branch of the Ontonagon River. (That one isn't big but the Funks love to go there.) Bond Falls is the widest and the grandest but all are beautiful: Agate Falls, Nelson Canyon Falls, O-Kun-De-Kun Falls and numerous falls in the Porcupine Mountains and on the Black River and the Presque Isle. I count 17 major waterfalls just in Gogebic County. It's rough country with rock outcropping and rivers flowing hard to Lake Superior 28 miles to the north. In many ways, it's a frontier still.
The things you do here with the family become a memorable part of your journey through life, whether it's coffee on cool mornings on the Front Porch, or gathering in the Guide's Room after a day in the field and forest shooting grouse and woodcock over bird dogs, or hiking in the spectacular fall color and rich fall aromas of the region, or water skiing on the lake. Sometimes it's the simple ones that are best -- a home-cooked dinner with good friends in the great dining room filled with flickering candles, a fine wine, tall tales and history.
It's easily accessible with good roads year round and airports that take jets at Ironwood and Minocqua. If you need one there are good hospitals.
A pioneer built this place as a northern getaway for his family. Then the Funks proved it is ideal for corporate entertaining. It's always been used for both, so who will own it now? What seems certain is that it will be an owner who values privacy, enduring beauty, the out of doors, and the rich fellowship that is found here.
It could be you.
The property is offered at $10.5MM. This includes the Lodge and 8 addition buildings "turnkey" (fully furnished, including many antiques) with a private harbor and a mile of frontage on Lake Gogebic. It also includes the Shooting Star and many other boats and the equipment necessary for the efficient care and operation of the property.
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