House Tour: Into the Woods
Three generations make waves on the water while celebrating old traditions and seeding new ones at their Wisconsin cabin.
Lizzie Horvitz and her mom are sparring again. But in this family, mother-daughter feuds involve balancing on the ends of a spinning 12-foot synthetic log in a northern Wisconsin lake. The trick in this 100-year-old lumberjack sport is to see who stays up longest. And these lumberjills are pros. Lizzie and her mother, Judy Scheer Hoeschler, have each claimed the logrolling crown multiple times at the Lumberjack World Championships in nearby Hayward.
After several minutes of a back-and-forth tap dance, Judy loses her balance and falls into the water. The rest of the family on shore cheers. It's a typical afternoon at the Horvitz cabin, where fresh air and friendly competition (not to mention weak Wi-Fi) offer a welcome break from the rush and routine back home in Minneapolis.
Lizzie and her husband, Greg, built their getaway a few years ago overlooking Clear Lake, part of a popular vacation area called the Spider Chain of Lakes. The family has strong ties here. Judy grew up in Hayward and met her husband, Jay, at Scheer's Lumberjack Village, a kitschy complex that hosts the annual festival where Judy and Lizzie won their logrolling titles. (Lizzie's three siblings compete, too.)
The 5-acre property came with a main house and a guest cottage that was beyond repair. The Horvitzes focused on a new cottage, hiring Peterssen/Keller Architecture for the job. The 1,100-square-foot cabin has a great room, a screen porch, two bedrooms, a lofted playroom, a nursery and a single bath.
"We started with what makes sense for us today," says Greg, explaining why he and Lizzie built a smallish cabin for their growing family (sons Henry and Oliver, plus a third on the way), rather than renovate the big house. The intimate scale and open floor plan encourage together-time, but there are enough doors and nooks to hide away and read or nap. The family often heads out for bike rides on nearby trails or boats across the lake to a lodge for pizza.
"I appreciate being here so much more now that we have kids," Lizzie says. "At home, I know Henry can tell when we're distracted. At the cabin, we're not on social media and not being pulled in so many directions."
Greg agrees: "When we get to the cabin, my phone goes in a drawer until we leave again."
The Horvitzes say they might tackle the main house one day, but for now, it's a guest space. Last Fourth of July, 18 people spent the holiday weekend here, vying in the family's fourth summer Olympics. One relay involves a huge makeshift Slip 'N Slide, another eating doughnuts from a string (no hands allowed). The winning team receives a silver chalice that once belonged to Greg's great-grandmother.
That kind of silliness thrives at the cabin. "You get out of your practical mode," Lizzie explains. "The kids can stay in their pajamas all day, then we'll go for a sunset boat ride. They fall asleep, and we just carry them back and tuck them into their beds."
Today, the Horvitz boat stays docked, and the dress code is 24-hour bare feet. After Judy tumbles off the log, Greg gamely challenges his wife to a spin-off. Henry gets a turn, too. As the sun sinks, everyone dries off for s'mores. No ghost stories around this campfire, though-just a little happy gloating from the day's two-time champ.
A sleek nod to knotty pine, butternut paneling envelops the master bedroom. Greg and Lizzie bought sheepskin rugs at the Farmstead Creamery and Cafe, a favorite restaurant and store in Hayward, to soften the floors.
Fishing, pontoons, cabins galore and a healthy dose of taxidermy: Lizzie and Greg Horvitz share their favorite spots in the popular vacation area they've made their second home.
The RanchLooking to eat with the locals? You'll find them at this 86-year-old supper club, a legendary hangout for Chicago gangsters in the 1930s. "It's kind of like Cheers-one of those places you go and see people you know," Lizzie says. Greg gives high marks for the relish tray and the restaurant's famous Old-Fashioned.
Scheer's Lumberjack Village Founded by Lizzie's uncles, the village offers cabin rentals, mini golf, ice cream and The River Deck Restaurant. (Greg likes the tuna nachos.) It's also home to Scheer's Lumberjack Show, 90 minutes of comedy and lumberjack sports. "There are lots of cheesy jokes," Lizzie says. "It's a great place to take kids."
Off-road adventures The Hayward area hosts the continent's largest cross-country ski race, the American Birkebeiner. In summer, those 60 miles of ski trails draw hikers, runners and mountain bikers. Lizzie likes the newest section of the 13-mile Makwa Trail. Just don't forget bug spray, Greg warns with a wry laugh.
Moccasin Bar "There's hilarious taxidermy, and everything is old and smoke-faded from when you could smoke," Greg says. The dive bar has a jukebox, pool table and myriad dioramas (like two badgers boxing with a beaver referee).
Lumberjack World Championships, July 19–21 Would-be Paul Bunyans face off in entertaining feats of strength and dexterity-sawing, chopping, speed climbing, logrolling and more. Lizzie is sitting out this year, but her sister Abby Hoeschler plans to compete.