The story of Funk’s Lodge begins in the summer of 1944, just nine months before the end of WWII. Jazz was king and Louis Armstrong and Benny Goodman were on the radio when Edward Funk and his sons, driving north to resort country, received a tip that the fabulous hunting lodge built by “Big Bill” Bonifas was for sale up in resort country on Lake Gogebic with a mile of water frontage.
Bill Bonifas was a timber baron of the 1920’s who amassed great wealth, but he was a frugal man. It is said that his only extravagance was the construction of his fabulous lodge. Bonifas built this tremendous facility in 1924 using lumber and log beams cut from his sawmill in nearby Marenisco. It was under construction before a road could be built, so building materials had to be floated across the lake and skidded across the winter ice.
The Escanaba Daily Press reported the Firestones and DuPonts were early guests. Edna Furber wrote “Come and Get It” here, a story that became a motion picture by Samuel Goldwyn, starring Walter Brennan and Edward Arnold. Bonifas built it for the good life, but that was not to be. He died shortly after its completion. The great lodge had hardly been used.
Meanwhile, down in America’s heartland Edward and Jennie Funk and their sons and daughters were building a fiercely independent family business. The Funk name is one of the most recognized names in American row crops. For 50 years you couldn’t miss the Edward J. Funk & Sons or Super Crost name in corn and soybean country. It was a dynasty built by a large family that made their fortune the old fashioned way: they earned it! Earned it in turbulent times with hard work, traditional values, smart ideas, resilience in adversity, and innovation.
The crisp first light of dawn comes with the smell of buckwheat pancakes served flowing with maple syrup made in the sugar bush right on the property. There’s a trap range for the thunder flush of a grouse, a kennel for the setters, pointers, and black labs, a trout stream and a three-acre trout pond, with a fishing guide to show you where and how. There are miles of walking trails or, if this is your mood, a sun porch with green lawns and Adirondack chairs, shaded by oaks, hemlocks and pines 300 to 400 years old. In the evenings there was camaraderie, with bands and sing-along with split maple logs in the big fireplace.
Whether it’s a gathering in the Guides’ Room after a day in field and forest shooting grouse over the dogs, fly fishing for trout, or perhaps coffee on a cool morning on the Front Porch, or a sunset cruise up the lake on the Shooting Star, it’s the simple pleasures that this family liked best.
The 15,000 sf lodge, shop, art studio, boathouse, Guide House and four cabins still occupy that mile of frontage on Lake Gogebic. It’s the finest land holding on the largest lake in the Upper Peninsula. Antique and mellow as they appear, these buildings are as rock sound as the Funk family can make them, which is saying something. The lodge even has a custom built walk-in wine cellar.
The custom made furniture of the Arts & Crafts Bungalow era was designed specifically for these buildings, built in the 1920’s in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Scattered about are snowshoes, fishing rods and outdoor gear of all kinds. Historic treasures that enrich the comfortable, friendly patina of this place.
Being a waterfront estate, the boathouse serves as shelter for an 18 foot Boston Whaler perfect for exploring the Slate River. Be sure to notice the Shooting Star, the 28-foot mahogany Mays-Craft that was painstakingly restored to perfection right here on the premises and is docked in a boathouse in the only private harbor on the lake right in front of the lodge.
You’ll discover “Cabin 8”, a pine paneled cabin in a grove of giant hemlock and pine with a commanding view over the great lake from what has to be the best site on Lake Gogebic. One of the intangible and invaluable assets is the family staff that has a combined 100 years of history with the Funk family! They know every inch of the property and they don’t see this as a job, but rather a career of stewardship of this great property.
The Funk’s have always known the property is exceptional. Over 17 major waterfalls are just in Gogebic County. It’s rough country with rock outcropping and rivers flowing hard to Lake Superior 28 miles to the north. In many ways, it’s a frontier still.
This family property has become a memorable part of their families journey through life. Whether it is hiking in the spectacular fall colors or rich aromas of the region, or water skiing on the lake. Sometimes it’s the simple pleasures that are best — a home-cooked dinners, fine wine and tall tales of this special property’s history.