A Fitting Tribute: Renovation of ‘Three Bears’ Cabins
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A Fitting Tribute: Renovation of ‘Three Bears’ Cabins

An owner renovates three lakeside cabins in honor of his late wife.

Written by Sarah Kuta
Photos: Courtesy Gregory Anderson
 
For more than 30 years, Gregory and Beth Anderson enjoyed spending time at their lake house in south-central Wisconsin — so much so that they even made it their full-time home in 2006.
 
In September 2012, Beth went out for a walk and noticed a group of three rundown cabins for sale less than a block away from their home. The Andersons bought the shabby cabins with the goal of fixing them up and turning them into cozy, log cabin-style guest accommodations for visits from their four married children and nine grandchildren.
 
Unfortunately, Beth was diagnosed with ALS and passed away before the couple could finish the extensive renovation project. But to honor his late wife, Gregory persevered after her death and worked hard to complete the main cabin renovation in time for an open house/dedication on her birthday in August 2019.
 
He followed his late wife’s vision for the cabins, renovating and decorating them in a rustic black-bear style. Today, the property is called the Three Bears Lodge, with each cabin bearing a unique name straight out of “Goldilocks.” The main cabin is called Mama Bear’s Cabin in honor of Beth, while the other two are aptly named Papa Bear’s Cabin and Baby Bear’s Cabin.
 
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Mama Bear’s Cabin
 
“Renovating the small cabins into log cabins with cabin decor was her passion, so it was important for me and my family to finish the project,” Gregory said. “She had purchased so many furnishings and decor, we had to see how it would all look once it was finished. It was a grand event when grandkids could finally spend the night there.”
 
The cabins were in rough shape when the Andersons bought them — caved-in roofs, collapsing foundations, rotting floors — but the couple wasn’t deterred by a little hard work. In fact, they’d already undertaken a complete overhaul of their own lake property, converting it from a small two-bedroom cottage into a two-story, three-bedroom lake house. Gregory had also been doing remodeling and building work as a semi-professional hobby for more than 40 years.
 
To make Beth’s dream a reality, Gregory gutted the main cabin down to the studs and one load-bearing wall. He designed a new floor plan (one that included a dreamy loft for the grandchildren to sleep and play in), replaced parts of the basement foundation, installed new floor joists, put on a new roof and added new windows throughout.
 
To give it Beth’s desired log cabin feel, he finished the exterior with ¼-log cedar siding and covered the interior walls with ¼-log siding and pine boards. He also installed warm maple wood flooring and added a gas fireplace. Rounding out this lakeside retreat, Gregory built two decks for guests to bask among the property’s trees and get some fresh air.
 
After finishing the Mama Bear’s Cabin renovation two years ago, Gregory continues to work on the other two, dedicating most of his nights and weekends during the winter months to the ongoing project. Though many of his neighbors joke about how he’s spending his free time, Gregory says he wouldn’t have it any other way — the cabin renovations are a labor of love.
 
“With a little determination and time, anything is possible,” he says.
 
 

Home Details

Square Footage: 900
Bedrooms: 2, plus a loft
Baths: 1


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