Located along the shores of Torch Bay on Portage Lake– a section of the historic Keweenaw Canal, which connects Lake Superior to itself– lies a longtime summertime haven for one local family that I am visiting. The home has recently changed hands amongst family, and a less-aged generation is now charged with the task of revitalizing a much-loved and well-used home. At times, this average sized home would have sheltered and fed 13 children, and innumerable cousins; hence, eight beds in the large open room upstairs, nearly ten dressers, several dozen unmatched chairs, and a piano. The rest of the building wears the signatures of a tinkerer/inventor (self-closing doors: pulleys and weights) a Depression era reuse and repurposing mentality; and of course, thirteen or more children, aunts, and uncles. In it’s unimproved state, it has been described as “tenement-ish”. The task of repurposing this home into an uncluttered summer retreat, is mountainous.
Inverted, my head in a septic tank, I quickly decided I no longer needed to request permission to fix a snack from the fridge. My pedestal of guesthood had crumbled; I was now a tenant of the estate (in a tent, lakeside). If I am to be knee deep in this end of their business, I thought, I most certainly could help myself to their leftovers and a refreshing beverage in the kitchen.
Bedrooms have been framed and dry-walled; sanding, priming and painting have livened living spaces; water, plumbing and lighting– all working again– make all the difference; and a massive purge of stuff has made their house, a home once again. With equal parts optimism and sarcasm, they call it “Dreamland”, borrowed from another longtime, local establishment– the Dreamland Hotel.
Relax, breathe deep and avoid the dust. Welcome to Dreamland.
Coming up: Eagle River, WI; Grand Marais, MN; then west.
The Dreamland Hotel is now a colorful country bar; poorly lit and awash in wood-grain. The word Dreamland even appears up the road from here on a 1961 MI Dept. of Conservation map uncovered from a dresser drawer.