When Jack Mitchell decided to build a log cabin, he knew he wanted to create a getaway for his family and friends to enjoy — an escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
“It was one of those items that had always been on my bucket list,” says Jack, a real-estate developer in Green Bay, Wisconsin. “I also had a young family at the time, so I got to thinking about building a place to create memories that they’d always remember.” In short, he wanted to create a place to get back to the basics.
And he succeeded in his efforts. The home itself, however, is anything but basic. Located on Tom Doyle Lake near Newbold, Wisconsin, the 2,600-square-foot cabin is part of Garrett’s Landing, a 45-lot community that Jack purchased and developed himself. After buying the 102-acre property, he wanted to kick-start the development by building a truly unique home that would draw attention to the area, so he began contacting all the log-home builders in the state of Wisconsin and went to a couple log-home shows.
All of his research eventually led him to Pioneer Log Homes Midwest in Grafton, Wisconsin, a dealer for Pioneer Log Homes of British Columbia. “I began speaking with the president, John Leszczynski, about building a spec home, but as we started planning the house, I fell in love with the home and how unique it was. So I went ahead and bought the home for myself,” says Jack, with a laugh. “It would’ve been much too hard for me to build this home only to sell it to someone else.”
The home’s customized plan is based on Pioneer’s standard Winchester plan, but the design team added a few personalized touches to accommodate Jack, his wife, Ann, and their son, Garrett, for whom the community was named. “The only thing that was set in stone was the layout of the first floor because of the structural-log requirements, which affected where the kitchen and open living areas would be,” says Jack. From there, they decided to put in a natural-stone fireplace, so they needed to make some adaptations to the logs to accommodate that.
The upper level, which includes a loft-style bedroom, in addition to a master bedroom and a shared bath, was also designed entirely by Jack. “Many of the unique design elements in this home were thought up by the homeowners themselves,” says the dealer. “From the basement to the screened-in porch, it’s really a one-of-a-kind home.”
Most spectacular, though, are the surprise details found throughout the house — namely, the magnificent handcrafted logs and built-ins. “The back porch features a built-in picnic table that is made from one of the integral logs of the house,” says the dealer. There is also a lot of character in the corners, thanks to the use of Pioneer’s flared-out, tapered cedar logs, which add true character to the home. There’s even an eagle carving that keeps watch over the home — a staple of Pioneer’s design aesthetic.
“If it’s OK with the homeowners, we include an eagle carving in every house we do,” explains Andre Chevigny, general manager of Pioneer Log Homes of British Columbia. “For 25 years this has been a trademark on most of our homes. It provides an artistic element to the exterior, while also adding a unique feature inside where we can add another carving or leave the flared-out end like we did for the Mitchells.”
But when the Mitchell family visits their lakeside cabin, there’s a lot less focus on the magnificent home, and more on each other. “We don’t have electronics up here. No TV, no computers — just a radio,” says Jack. “We also have a little journal that my wife always fills out on the very last day of every trip. Whether it’s a story about a fish that was caught and how big it was, or some kind of funny event that happened, we’ll always have this tangible reminder that, as we get older, will always remind us of all the good times we spent at the cabin.”
Home Plan Details:
Square Footage: 2,600
Bedrooms: 2 (plus loft)
Log species: western red cedar
Builder/general contractor: JEM Realty Group, Green Bay, WI (801-319-1700)
Dealer: Pioneer Log Homes Midwest, Grafton, WI (866-255-6148; pioneerloghomesmidwest.com)
Doors: Nick’s Building Supply, Crown Point, IN (219-663-2279; nicksbuilding.com)
Log provider: Pioneer Log Homes of British Columbia (877-822-5647; pioneerloghomesofbc.com)
Stain: TimberPro Coatings, Portland, OR (888-888-6095; timberprocoatings.com)
Windows: VerHalen, Green Bay, WI (800-236-8646; verhaleninc.com)