The Schwarz home, a pine-log home, will be one of the stops on the fall tour.
The Schwarz home, a pine-log home, will be one of the stops on the fall tour.
Hidden away at the end of a long driveway through groves of trees is the totally remarkable log home of Jerry and Diane Schwarz.

The couple chose the cozy site at 15972 Patriot Drive, then lived in their "basement home" for many years while they constructed the log house above them. Initially they contacted Root River Hardwood at Lanesboro to ask if there might be an opportunity to acquire pine logs, that they would be interested. Lo and behold, the offer came almost at once, and they were able to purchase approximately 120 logs of 14 to 18 inch diameter, all of which they finished themselves with a stain and three top coats of finish. The ridge pole is 44 feet in length. How long did it take to build the house? Too many years to count, Diane says. They wanted to use each log without cutting it, and Jerry designed the house to accommodate this.

As you approach the house, you will stroll up the welcoming wooden walk to the deck or front porch with its antlered deer of logs. The open feeling of the entire main floor contributes to a great place for entertaining family and friends, as well as comfy home living. To the left is the sitting room and fireplace with windows to the south, to the right the dining area and kitchen, and straight ahead the remarkable spiral staircase.

The unusual freestanding fireplace was built stone by stone; Diane can testify as to how heavy each piece was as they toted them into place. Not only is there an open hearth, but also a built-in oven in the chimney where they can bake bread.

A glance out the windows at the large woodshed with its two-year supply of cordwood is a reminder of how much wood can be burned in a season. The foundation for the fireplace begins below, of course, and underground as well. The numerous windows on three sides look out on a creek and groves of trees - cedar, oak, pine, maple and many more - offering a wonderful change of season scenery. They "host" as many as 20 turkeys or 10 deer at a time, and the songbird population is endless.

The kitchen cabinets of maple were done by the Amish; the flooring is hickory, but in other areas it is pine. Diane has a handsome Hartland Stove, which is well used. There is a breakfast nook overlooking the drive, the requisite well-stocked pantry and a corner office. The bathrooms on each of three levels are "stacked" for plumbing efficiency, and there is an adjacent guest bedroom. The cupboard under the stairwell contains many items from Japan including a special tea set that Jerry's dad sent to his wife when he was serving in World War II.

The staircase is totally unique - the steps are made of gorgeous slabs of cherry wood, the rail and spindles of small pine logs, and the stairs spiral up to a delightful loft that overlooks the living area. There are spaces for sewing, entertaining and just fun times. The bedroom's log bed is in keeping with the log house theme, and the room looks to the east drive-in. The skylight in the closet is nifty, and the bedroom seems to be made for the seasons - a brilliant lightning and thunderstorm might be exciting, a fluffy snowstorm would be calming, and a steady rain could put one to sleep. The adjacent bathroom is finished with cedar, which absorbs moisture.

Looking out those various upstairs windows, one is struck by the wood shakes used on the roof. We're told they have a fascinating history. The immense log facility at Good Earth Village came from Osage, Iowa, where it had been completed for a restaurant, but the owner died unexpectedly. Good Earth Village had the opportunity to purchase the building, and it was dismantled like a jigsaw puzzle, trucked here, and put back together on site, a fantastic place for retreats, summer camp, etc. However, the camp chose to use a metal roof, and the thick shakes were available to a buyer. The Schwarzes jumped at the chance and made a flying trip to retrieve them for their log house. The shakes are most impressive. Jerry has his own sawmill, which was needed throughout the building process.

As one descends to the lower level, we remember the family once lived down here. The wood-burning stove is a Kozy Heat; and Diane often does all her baking in the downstairs kitchen. Heat is in the floor here, and of course there is the foundation for the fireplace above, but furnace heat is also available. There is the efficient utility room, many storage areas, and filing cabinets. The bedroom is a true delight - all the furniture came from the Arnold and Bertha Molstad estate. Arnold was a local surveyor; Bertha came from Norway to offer her nursing skills at the local hospital where they became acquainted. Over the bed headboard is a painting of Bertha's home place in Norway. The adjacent bathroom features oak, but one finds little pine trees a constant decorative theme, appropriate to a pine-log home. Logs are visible everywhere, jutting in and out of the walls, in the floors, offering peeks at the sky, trees and wildlife.

The Schwarzes have built a bridge over Spring Valley Creek, which flows by their place and where they have added picnic tables, walkways, and a splendid spot to entertain kids, grandkids and friends. You will enjoy it all!