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Tour of Cottages raises funds for Elder Network

(Photo by Deb Anderson1 / 5
(Photo by Deb Anderson)2 / 5
(Photo by Deb Anderson)3 / 5
(Photo by Deb Anderson)4 / 5
(Photo by Deb Anderson)5 / 5

The annual Cottage Tour to benefit Elder Network will be held on Tuesday, July 30 from 3 to 7 p.m. Attendees may tour the five historic lake cottages in any order.

A Cottage Tour Boutique will be located at the Theatre L'Homme Dieu campus, with lemonade and cookies served.

Advance tickets are $20 and are available at Elden's Fresh Foods, Pete's County Market and Trumm Drug, all in Alexandria. Tickets purchased on-site are $25. A map and directions to each cottage will be included on the tickets.

Visitors are encouraged to carpool and wear comfortable walking shoes.

Proceeds benefit Elder Network - a volunteer service dedicated to supporting people age 55 and older through times of transition, loss and change. The program's goal is to help seniors continue living safely and independently in their homes. Supplemental funds are provided by Thrivent Financial for Lutherans. For more information on Elder Network, see page A1 in today's Echo Press.

Following are the cottages featured on this year's tour:

The Indian Mounds Cottage -- Lake L'Homme Dieu

Mike and Kathy Koppy, 3418 N Nokomis NE, Alexandria

This property was originally purchased by a family named Hardwick in 1875 for $4 from the U.S. land office. It included the pie-shaped piece of land referred to in later years as the "Indian Mounds."

It is best known for being home to one of the only prehistoric (circa 500 B.C.) walk-in mound museums in the U.S. It is also the second largest mound in Minnesota. It was excavated in 1963 by the University of Minnesota archaeology department.

Following the excavation, a museum was established at the site. Through the years, it has been a resort and home to Frances LaBrass's Linen Shop. Before being subdivided in the late 1990s, the main house on the point featured what is believed to be the first pizza and spaghetti restaurant in Alexandria.

Mike and Kathy Koppy purchased this property, which came with 115 feet of lakeshore on Lake L'Homme Dieu, in 1999 as a weekend getaway.

The cozy house and welcoming grounds have become a favorite place for them to come, enjoy the lake and relax with family and friends.

Over the years, a few improvements have been made, but the charm of the house and surroundings invite you to sit and relax awhile.

The Pieschel Cottage -- Lake Darling

Mike and Jodi Pieschel, 2908 Darling Dr. NW, Alexandria

This property, along with adjacent lots on Brown's point, had numerous owners during the late 1800s and into the early 1900s.

The first long-term owner of this property was an Alfred A. Secord, who acquired ownership of the lot, several others to the north, and the lot across the road, in 1919. It is believed that at that time, or thereabouts, he built the cabin on this property, the guest cottage, and the cottages to the north and created the Lake Darling Resort.

In January of 1924, Secord and his wife filed a "Notice of Claim of Homestead" on these properties, indicating that they were then the fee owners and were in fact residing on the premises.

It is thought that at that time he built the permanent home (the red house across the road).

Subsequent owners of the current Pieschel property were Arthur F. Achilles of Roosevelt (1945); Dr. O. J. Seifert of New Ulm (1948); and A. C. Ochs Brick & Tile Co. of Springfield (1955).

In 2003, the Pieschels removed the original cottage and built their present home on the property, which was completed in 2004. Many of the paintings in this tastefully decorated home were created by Jodi Pieschel. The original guest cottage adds charm to this lovely property.

The Starewicz Cottage -- Lake Carlos

Doug and Nancy Starewicz, 305 Carlos Darling Dr. NE, Alexandria

This cottage is owned by Nancy Boyd Starewicz and her husband, Doug. Nancy's great-grandfather Raiter was a butcher in Alexandria who bought land by the Carlos-Darling bridge. He built a cottage for each of his children as they married, and installed a gas pump and ice house for everyone's convenience.

This particular cottage was built sometime before 1906 for Nancy's grandfather, Dr. Leon Boyd, and his wife, Lytta Anne Raiter Boyd. Nancy's parents, John and Ruth (Bartz) Boyd, took ownership of it when she was very young.

Although Nancy grew up in the house next door, one of her favorite memories was celebrating her cousin's birthday in this cottage every Memorial Day. They'd swim across the road in Lake Darling because it was warmer than Lake Carlos.

The two Boyd families then returned to their homes on either side of the cottage so renters could move in. Beginning in 1957, the cottage was rented to the DeLay and Glandville families. Their daughters recall "sweating away" upstairs in the attic. Although the beds are still in their original spots, air conditioning now makes the accomodations more comfortable.

Original wicker furniture in the main room, bead board and an old bread box in the kitchen add to the cottage's charm. Nancy's brother, Robert Boyd, comes from Minneapolis to cut grass and plant flowers like her dad did years ago.

Lake Hommerding Cabin -- Lake Carlos

Paul and Diane Hommerding, 5071 Birchwood Terrace, Alexandria

Paul and Diane Hommerding raised their four children in this rustic, comfortable log home. The cabin was pre-assembled in Montana and rebuilt on this Lake Carlos site in 1982. The windows and doorways were chain-sawed in at the desired locations once the cabin was on site.

A covered wagon on the lawn depicts the family's love for the old west and pioneer days. A functional windmill stands nearby and the deck that surrounds the home includes a barrel hot tub.

The inside cabin walls are filled with antiques from a bygone era. Above the loft a preserved buggy hangs from the rafters.

The home is heated entirely by wood from a stove in the lower level. There are also working wood burning stoves in the living room and kitchen, including a wood burning cook stove.

Double "cellar" doors lead to the lower level, which houses a guest space and bar room complete with booths and family/business memorabilia.

The surrounding acreage features a covered bridge over a small creek that leads to "Jacob's Way," named in honor of Jacob Wetterling. The path leads into the woods frequented by the Hommerding children and their neighborhood friends. Today's children continue to enjoy this area and leave thank you notes and drawings on the walls of the "Kid's Bridge."

Donnelly Cottage -- Lake Darling

Drew and Renee Donnelly, 911 Casa Marina Ln NW, Alexandria

Step into the Donnelly's cottage and you'll find a bright, comfortable place where family and friends relax and play.

Drew and Renee Donnelly and their family of four children have been coming to their cottage on Little Darling since 1994. They purchased it from Vik and Elverta Kramer, who built the two-bedroom cottage themselves in the early 1980s.

After purchasing the predominately crème and black cottage, Renee and Drew remodeled some and then updated again in 2004 to reflect Drew's father, Gordon Donnelly's, suggestion that the cottage needed more color.

So it was brightly decorated with Gordon's gift of a poppy picture in the dining room as a colorful start.

The former breezeway off the garage became the kid's bunkhouse. A chandelier located in the bunkhouse bath was another purchase from Gordon.

The many years of family fun at the cottage are captured in the photos Renee, an avid photographer, has displayed throughout the cottage.