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A 100-year old symbol of the great logging era in Minnesota is getting a facelift


Northern Bedrock Historic Preservation Corps crew member Lay Htoo stains the main lodge at Joyce Estate on the Chippewa National Forest. Forest Service photo.

BOVEY, Minn. — Joyce Estate, located in Bovey, Minn., north of Grand Rapids in the Chippewa National Forest, underwent the first of three phases of work to repair the historic site that has fallen into disrepair over time.

The isolated estate was the summer retreat of the Joyce Family.  In its heyday the property had 40 buildings, including its own golf course, private telephone line, and airplane hangar, all situated on 4,500 acres of forestland. The Joyce Estate was one of the most expansive, extravagant resort estates in northern Minnesota. In recent years, the estate has begun to show signs of its age, suffering from the ravages of Minnesota winters and vandals.

The work by the Northern Bedrock Historic Preservation Corps crew from Duluth, Minn., began on Aug. 2, and wrapped up Aug. 9. The Americorps funded volunteers, who help to preserve historic sites across the state, spent the week making the site more stable.

With more than 40 buildings and thousands of acres of land on beautiful Trout Lake, Nopeming was built in 1917 and was modeled after the Great Camps of the Adirondacks to resemble the resort estates of families such as the Vanderbilts and the Rockefellers. Given the Ojibwe name Nopeming, meaning place of rest, it was once the vacation property of logging empire heir David Gage Joyce.

The Nature Conservatory acquired the property in 1973 for $2 million and ownership was transferred to the U.S. Forest Service in 1974 with the goal to maintain and protect it as a refuge and historical site for the public to enjoy, just as Beatrice would have preferred.

The Chippewa National Forest is finding innovative ways to find the funding and labor to restore sites such as Joyce Estate. The forest applied for funding from the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps to fund this project. The 21CSC is a private-public partnership that engages more than 25,000 returning veterans and young Americans annually to strengthen America’s infrastructure, boost local economies, and multiply returns on the country’s most valuable assets.