Apostle Islands Historic Preservation Conservancy
Preserving and interpreting historic structures and cultural landscapes throughout the Apostle Islands region of northern Wisconsin.
WEST BAY LODGE
The West Bay Lodge
NPS Collection. West Bay Lodge c. 1920
This imposing Adirondack-style lodge on Sand Island’s western shore was built in 1913 by the West Bay Club, a group of six businessmen from St. Paul. Its designers were two of the club members, architects Charles Buechner and Henry Orth. The partnership of Buechner and Orth was one of the most prominent architectural firms in the upper Midwest during that era. At least two dozen Buechner and Orth buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Examples include courthouses, hospitals, and the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul, long-time home of Prairie Home Companion.
The West Bay Club dissolved in 1922, and one of the six original families bought out the others. The property changed hands several times until 1960, when it was purchased by the Howard Peters family of Mellen, Wis. The newly-established Apostle Islands National Lakeshore purchased the Lodge in 1973, with the Peters family taking a life lease. The family cared for the building for 57 years, until Mr. Peters’ passing in 2017.
Under construction 1913
The Lodge has been a major a focal point of AIHPC restoration work, under oversight of the National Park Service. Our organization has provided both funds and labor to replace the dock; conducted major grading and landscaping work to improve site drainage and protect the building’s log foundation; and repaired numerous structural features. The Peters family have been active partners in this effort, providing funding and material support, and donating countless hours of labor.
In 2010, the National Trust for Historic Preservation awarded the AIHPC a matching grant under the Jeffris Family Endowed Preservation Fund to prepare a detailed condition assessment/ structural condition study of the Lodge. Completed in November 2011, the study provided valuable information for use in planning additional restoration projects.
West Bay Club members wait at the dock, c. 1920. Visible in the background is the icehouse.
In 2013, the AIHPC carried out a project to stabilize and restore the Lodge’s separate icehouse, threatened by bank erosion. Timber for the project was provided by the Peters family, Polencheck Construction of Mosinee, Wisc. contributed their expertise in log home restoration, and the workers from the Minnesota Conservation Corps supplied the labor.
The West Bay Lodge was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2015 in recognition of its architectural merit and its value as a well-preserved example of important trends in Northland tourism and recreation in the early 20th century. The research and documentation required for National Register listing was underwritten by the AIHPC.
Photos from Apostle Islands National Lakeshore collection used by permission.
The Conservancy is an IRS-approved 501(c)(3) charitable organization. All donations are deductible for income tax purposes. Donations may be made to the Conservancy’s general fund or designated for a specific purpose. Donations may be sent to:
P.O. Box 88
Bayfield Wisconsin, 54814