Fire destroys Minnesota's historic Lutsen Lodge on Lake Superior

LUTSEN, Minn. (AP) — Fire destroyed a historic lodge on Lake Superior in northern Minnesota early Tuesday, with the manager quickly pledging it would be rebuilt in the same design.

The fire at the Lutsen Lodge was reported around 12:30 a.m. The only staffer on duty spotted smoke coming from electrical outlets in the floor in the lobby and called 911, manager Edward Vanegas said. The employee made it out safely. No guests were checked in because it was early in the week, Vanegas said.

The building was fully engulfed as crews from eight departments battled the blaze. The state fire marshal’s office was investigating, but the cause could not be immediately determined, Vanegas said.

“The amazing memories made here are in our hearts as we begin the heavy weighted process to rebuilt back better,” the resort posted on its Facebook page.

Lutsen, started in 1885, claims to be Minnesota’s oldest resort, with the lodge as its centerpiece. It's a popular destination for hikers, skiers and other visitors from the Midwest and beyond. The family that started the resort includes Cindy Nelson, who won the bronze medal in downhill skiing at the 1976 Winter Olympics.

The lodge, simultaneously rustic and elegant with exposed wood, was designed by noted St. Paul architect Edwin Lundie, who drew on Norwegian and Swedish architectural influences. It had 40 guest units and restaurants that served guests from several nearby lodgings.

“It’s devastating to the community,” Dick Nelson, whose great-grandfather was the founder, told the Star Tribune. “It was a fantastic lodge, solid wood. But you don’t build things like that anymore.”

The main lodge previously burned down in 1949 and 1951. The one that burned Tuesday was rebuilt in 1952 using the same plans. Vanegas said lodge officials still have those original plans and intend to rebuild once again using the same design, updated for current building codes.

“The goal is to create new memories,” he said.

Other resort properties in the Lutsen area were not affected.