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Elder Network presents annual tour of cottages

The annual Cottage Tour to benefit Elder Network will be held on Tuesday, July 29 from 3 to 7 p.m.

Attendees may tour five "cottages" (summer homes) located on the beautiful shores of lakes L'Homme Dieu, Little Darling and Ida.

The cottages are of varied styles and vintages - some feature touches that lend themselves to a vintage look, while others feature "real vintage" attributes, dating back to 1878, with rich family histories.

As tour participants move among the rooms at the different homes, they will discover surprises around every corner - furnishings and decorative pieces that are collectible and eclectic, unique and antique, and homes filled with family heirlooms.

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

The Anderson Cottage

Lake Ida

7188 Sunset Strip

According to the former owners, Klink and Reetha Houck, this old farmhouse on Lake Ida's Sunset Strip is at least 130 years old. The barn, silo and other buildings were removed years ago, but the chicken coop and house remain.

Dean and Deb Anderson saw the potential to reinvent the old space within the structure to create a retreat for their family and missionary friends. To do this they added windows on all four sides, opening a view of the gardens, the lake and the sunset.

Original wood floors were painted in the bedrooms, bead board hung, and the typical steep stairway of old farmhouses was replaced with a more gradual, "today's code," stairway.

The couple works hard to keep it free from clutter and over-decorating. As a graphic designer and artist, Deb intentionally directs the viewer's eye by eliminating unnecessary distractions, and as a dentist, Dean continually employs a keen sense of spatial relations, reconstruction and making the new more beautiful than the old.

These skills have been honed as they worked together on this project.

Last summer they applied for a permit to remove the old roadbed of Sunset Strip. The county approved their plan to sculpt the land, directing the rainwater away from the lake into rain gardens. The casual plantings add to the feeling of relaxation.

Guests are greeted by a handwritten sign from Deb: "Welcome to the Farmhouse. Leave your cares, worries, and grudges outside. If you need them, take them with you when you leave."

The Muegge Cottage

Lake L'Homme Dieu

1750 County Road 120

The Don Muegge family spent two weeks at Orono Resort on Lake L'Homme Dieu in August of 1984. As the family was leaving, resort owner, Sid Hanson, mentioned that the cottage next door to the resort was for sale. He called the former owner, the parties met, and within 30 minutes, the Oklahoma folks owned a cottage in Minnesota.

The original cottage was built in the early 1900s as part of a fishing camp. People would rent one of the little cottages, delighting in the bass and northern pike they caught. Since those early days, there have been several "add-ons" to the cottage.

Years ago, the Muegges decided to reveal the original wood floors. The carpet was removed and the old floors were refurbished. Also, a much-needed tiny bathroom off the master bedroom was added.

This year, what may have been a carport in the early days, was enclosed and now provides a comfortable living area.

As the family enjoys antiquing, the cottage is furnished with antiques and collectibles acquired through the years. There is a lavatory in each bedroom, which adds to the charm of the cottage.

The Peters Cottage

Lake L'Homme Dieu

1560 County Road 120 NE

Situated in an area once known as "The Enchanted Shore," this home was built as a summer cottage by Dr. Grainger in 1926.

The Peters have taken measures to preserve its historic features, original windows, woodwork, stone fireplace, buffalo-board walls and embossed ceilings.

Upon entering, guests will experience a breathtaking view of Lake L'Homme Dieu's blue-green waters, a blue echoed by the living room carpeting.

Decorated in an eclectic mix of old and new, antiques and collector items, of special note are a pair of hand-carved chairs more than 250 years old and a loft bedroom with handcrafted furniture built by Nadine's grandfather.

Some of the walls feature archival wallpaper, and all the walls throughout the house are hung with original art work (many painted by Nadine, the featured artist at the Butler's Pantry during the month of July).

Don't forget to check out the adjoining guesthouse, perhaps originally a servant's quarters, where novelties, collector items and antiques are for sale.

The Crocker/MacFarlane Cottage

Little Darling

3010 Darling Drive NW

Deb, the new owner of her grandmother's summer home, remembers that, "Growing up, it was everything that Minneapolis wasn't."

Enjoyed by five generations of family, Deb recalls, "it always felt like open house," and "though a work in progress," she is happy to share it as part of the tour.

She doesn't know exactly when the house was built, but on the living room wall is a picture of the house from across Lake Darling titled "Brown's Point 1901." At some time the rambling structure was built onto and extensive screen porches added.

In 1925, her grandmother married into the Crocker family and it became her summer home. Because the house's multiple bedrooms were occupied periodically by various members of extended family and guests, Grandmother had the bedroom furniture painted different rainbow hues, so they could be referred to by color.

Deb remembers that she always had the "purple room," where she loved the view.

The Johnson Cottage

Little Darling

3510 Darling Drive

Darryl and Vicki Johnson are the happy inhabitants of a 100-year-old cottage. The welcoming spirit of their home envelops family, friends and many area residents who attend community events hosted by the couple.

Upon entering, one is surprised by the close proximity of the lake. The words, "What a gorgeous view!" often explode from newcomers' lips.

Over the past 100 years the cottage has endured several renovations, always with careful attention to the cottage "feel." The original fieldstone fireplace has remained intact and provides the living room with a warm, inviting ambience.

Recently, Darryl, a manufacturer's representative for the cabinetry industry, provided Vicki with a new kitchen that incorporates traditional design with Old World craftsmanship and state-of-the-art technology. Vicki claims she has a renewed interest in cooking since the installation.

The wide expansive natural beach has delighted the young and old for more than a century, and completes the charm of this family summer retreat and future retirement destination


Tuesday, July 29, 3 to 7 p.m.


Advance tickets are $20 and are available in Alexandria at Elden's Food Fair, Pete's County Market and Trumm Drug downtown, all in Alexandria.

Tickets purchased on-site are $25.

Map and directions are attached to tour tickets. Because of a shortage of parking space, visitors are encouraged to carpool and wear comfortable walking shoes.

Supplemental funds are provided by Thrivent Financial for Lutherans; matching funds provided by Wal-Mart. All benefits from the tour will support Elder Network programs.


Allow time to peruse the Cottage Tour Boutique, located at the Peters' home, and enjoy lemonade and cookies on the porch at the Andersons' on Lake Ida.


The mission of Elder Network is to meet the emotional, social, mental health and respite care needs of older adults in Douglas County by utilizing the services of specifically trained volunteers.

The Care Team meets the chore and transportation needs of older adults through a collaboration with area churches.

Elder Network staff members provide volunteer recruitment, training and the organizational support necessary to equip programs that address the specific needs of seniors.

From its beginning focus on peer counseling, Elder Network has grown in scope to include programs that provide respite for caregivers, social interaction opportunities for older adults, and transportation and chore help for seniors striving to live independently.