Investigation continues into fire that destroyed landmark North Shore lodge

The investigation continues into the fire early Tuesday that destroyed an iconic North Shore lodge.

The general manager of Lutsen Resort said the owners plan to rebuild. No one was injured in the fire that kept crews from eight fire departments on-scene for hours, dousing hot spots in the wreckage.

The State Fire Marshal’s Office said Tuesday that it was too soon to comment on a possible cause of the fire.

The loss of the seven-decade-old main lodge along the shore of Lake Superior prompted an outpouring of stories and emotion on social media on Tuesday — both from local residents and from people across Minnesota and beyond who had stayed, attended events or even gotten married at the resort.

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Historic Lodge Burns

Firefighters battle an overnight blaze that destroyed the main lodge at Lutsen Resort on Minnesota’s North Shore early Tuesday.

Edward Vanegas via AP

The resort dates back to 1885 and is located on the Lake Superior side of Highway 61, not far from the separate Lutsen Mountains ski resort which experienced its own devastating fire just last year.

Duluth-based event planner Mariah McKechnie estimated that she helped plan at least 100 weddings at the lodge. That included the very first wedding she ever planned — for her sister — in 2010.

“There’s just something very profound about the location. And then the lodge itself, just being that old historic structure. I’ll never forget being in the lobby with the fireplace roaring, couches, people playing checkers, the restaurant right there — like there was just this warm, inviting, historic quality,” she recalled. “The devastation of this fire is that that is not replaceable.”

First responders work

First responders work to douse the fire at the main lodge at Lutsen Resort on Tuesday.

Erica Dischino for MPR News

Nancy Burns and Scott Harrison bought Lutsen from its founders in 1988 and owned the lodge for 30 years before selling it to the current owners.

“People would come and say, ‘Oh, I first started coming here with my grandparents,’ or ‘Oh, my parents were married here,’ ” Burns told MPR’s Minnesota Now. “It’s just such an incredible web of across the state of people who have worked at the resort, played at the resort, started relationships and friendships at the resort.”

Burns said Tuesday that news of the fire had left her “just kind of numb. You know, it’s slowly sinking in. It’s almost like losing a member of the family.”

Edward Vanegas, Lutsen Resort’s general manager, told MPR News that “the goal is to rebuild.”

He said the owners have the original plans for the lodge, from when it was built after a previous fire in 1951. The plan at this point, Vanegas said, is to “take those plans and modernize them and put it back.”

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