By the close of the nineteenth century, great swaths of America’s old-growth forests had been logged or cleared. While many Americans welcomed this as progress, others, including affluent outdoor enthusiasts like future president Theodore Roosevelt, questioned the wisdom of depleting natural resources and spread interest in resource conservation and wilderness preservation. Among those who espoused conservation was Charles Lewis, a wealthy Minneapolis wheat broker and sportsman, who admired the beauty and trout fishing around the Clam River. Purchasing approximately fifteen hundred acres of old-growth timber, he planned a wilderness retreat and forest preserve. His wilderness, however, included a progressive farm and fish hatchery to ensure an abundance of trout. In 1910, he subdivided his land to create the village of Lewis. But creating his secluded retreat was his principal goal. In 1903, he hired Norwegian carpenter John “Ole” Mangseth to construct a Rustic lodge as his summer residence. Rustic architecture had become de rigueur for wilderness retreats in the late nineteenth century, a trend popularized by Adirondack resorts and the Arts and Crafts movement. Using white pine harvested on-site, Mangseth erected a hand-hewn log building, tied at the corners with saddle notches. Glazed porches along the east and west elevations feature rustic rooftop balustrades formed from branches in a crisscross pattern. Inside, use of natural materials continues. Logs and knotty-pine wainscoting form the walls and the staircase, and a large cobblestone fireplace dominates the living room. The enormous living room occupies half the ground floor and looks out onto a mosaic-tiled swimming pool.
The grounds include outbuildings, most of them built before 1913. The log gatehouse incorporates a porte-cochere, where Lewis kept his office and which included a telegraph connecting his lodge with his wheat brokerage in Minneapolis. Down the drive beyond a wooden water tower and the lodge house stands a substantial caretaker’s house, built between 1913 and 1919. It is a smaller version of the main house, although altered by fixed picture windows. After Lewis’s death, subsequent owners selectively harvested the timber yet left a good stand of mature trees around the main house.