Huge, historic estate in N. Minnesota is getting a makeover

The Joyce Estate was among the most expensive and extravagant estates in the state.

A huge, 4,500-acre estate in northern Minnesota is getting some work done. 

The Joyce Estate – also known by its Ojibwe name Nopeming – was built in 1917 on Trout Lake, north of Grand Rapids in the Chippewa National Forest. 

The Adirondack-style estate was modeled after the East Coast resort properties of families like the Vanderbilts and the Rockefellers, the U.S. Forest Service said in a news release on Tuesday. It has 40 buildings, a 9-hole golf course, a tennis court and an airplane hanger (see a map of it here and photos here). 

The property was one of the "most expensive, extravagant resort estates in northern Minnesota," the release notes.

The Joyce family, who made their money in the lumber business, used the property as their summer estate until 1972. It's now managed by the Chippewa National Forest, which aims to protect it as a historical site for the public to use for hiking, picnics and other recreational activities. 

Over the years, harsh Minnesota winters and vandals have caused the historic site to fall into disrepair. 

But now there are efforts to fix it up. The first of three phases to repair the estate was finished earlier this month. Crews worked to make the site more stable by replacing logs and boards, and they also removed old lead paint and stains.

The Chippewa National Forest is working with Northern Bedrock Historic Preservation Corps out of Duluth on the first phase of the project, which is being funded through the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps and cost around $10,000. 

Going forward, crew and supplies are expected to cost around $50,000, and the plan is to work with 21st Century Conservation Service Corps again, Chippewa National Forest Heritage Program Manager Sean Dunham told GoMN. 

Other work that needs to be done includes maintenance on other cabins, additional work on the lodge, and repairs to the bathhouse. Of the 40 buildings that were initially built on the estate, four are still standing (two cabins, the lodge and the bathhouse), Dunham told GoMN. However some foundations from the original buildings are still there.

The hope is that these structures will be stable enough so future generations can come and enjoy them, Scott Farley of the U.S. Forest Service told GoMN. The buildings aren't used for anything right now, but that's not saying the could be in the future, he noted.

More on the Joyce Estate

The forests and lakes of northern Minnesota were a really popular place to go during the first three decades of the 20th century, according to the Library of Congress

The area gained a national reputation as a vacation area, which is why David Gage Joyce of Chicago decided to build his summer retreat there. 

In addition to all the amenities listed above, the Joyce Estate also had a bunch of other things that were unexpected for that time period. Among them: a private telephone line, electric lighting, hot water, a greenhouse and landscaped grounds. 

You can see more photos of the historic estate here

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