16 and Counting

A Crosslake cabin, constructed by Wes Hanson Builders, becomes a treasured family retreat for three brothers and their families.


FOR NEARLY THIRTY YEARS, THE YOUNG FAMILY ENJOYED THEIR SUMMER CABIN ON ISLAND LAKE IN CROSSLAKE. George and Kathy Young had purchased the cabin, large enough for the whole family to stay together, even as their family expanded. The couple was often joined at the lake on summer weekends by their three sons and daughters-in-law, Jim and Jodi Young, of Edina; Jerry and Julia Young, of Wayzata; and Jed and Wendy Young, of St. Petersburg, Florida, along with their children. 

When George and Kathy decided seven years ago ago to build a year-round cottage next door, the original cabin became a shared responsibility between the three brothers and their families.

But the older cabin had its share of problems. The cabin remained a seasonal cabin, and it had been added onto before the Young family had purchased it. 

“It had lots of space but not spaces where you liked them,” explains Jodi Young.

She says they all enjoy cooking together, but the galley kitchen was inadequate when cooking for sixteen people. They checked into remodeling the cabin and transforming it into a year-round home, but it wouldn’t be an easy task. 

So, the three brothers and their families had a decision to make. Do they make a major financial investment in a new home? 

After lengthy discussions and consulting an attorney to work out the financial arrangements and any future buyout possibilities, the families decided to tear down the cabin and build a lake home that could be shared between them, their children, and eventually, their grandchildren. They ultimately decided to hire Wes Hanson Builders. Wes Hanson Builders is based in Crosslake, and the family felt comfortable hiring the local builder. 

Fortunately, the families get along well. As they went through the process of designing and building their new lake home, each family was given one vote for every decision they made. Kathy passed away in 2013 and their father, George, was closely involved in the project, but he wasn’t able to vote so that there would never be a tie.   

“We’re lucky in that we have a family that works well together. As we picked out all of the finishes, tile, faucets, and flooring, we all agreed to all of it,” Jodi explains. “Believe me, there’s no one person who got everything they wanted. But when you have so many people who use the space, you come up with a really good plan.”

A large kitchen with an adjacent living space was critical for everyone. 

“Our previous cabin had beautiful views, but a really small living room and small kitchen,” says Jodi. “We wanted functions to be spread out, with a beverage area where people could keep wine, beer, and glassware, and a separate coffee area. We wanted to be able to get in and out of the fridge while cooking, and have more areas where people were able to help.”

The spacious kitchen designed in their new home meets those expectations. The kitchen boasts two islands, each with sinks and dishwashers, and an icemaker since ice is always needed when everyone is at the lake. 

They also wanted three bedroom suites, one for each family. One suite is located on the main level, while two are upstairs. There are also two additional bedrooms and a bunk room that share a larger bathroom. The Youngs’ children wanted a separate family room for all the cousins to hang out together. Their wish was granted. 

In total, the home comfortably sleeps sixteen, which fits the entire family. If they need additional beds, they can send extra company to George’s cottage, located conveniently next door.

Construction began after Labor Day 2018, and the families were able to move in during Memorial Day weekend 2019. But before their old cabin was torn down, they learned that families can donate their cabins, set for demolition, to local fire departments who burn them down for fire training purposes. They were intrigued by the idea, and contacted Crosslake Fire Chief Chip Lohmiller. 

The old cabin had two staircases, including one that was metal, which made it a great structure for a live burn, Jodi says. Anything salvageable within the cabin was donated ahead of time to Lakes Area Habitat for Humanity in Brainerd. 

Five area fire departments, including Crosslake and Ideal fire departments, participated in the live burn training exercises in September 2018. Lohmiller says they initially used a fog machine to fill the structure with simulated smoke, conducting many search and rescue scenarios throughout the building. The live burn training hits all areas of training that a fire department needs each year, says Lohmiller. His goal is to conduct at least one live burn training a year; last year the Crosslake Fire Department conducted two trainings. There are many requirements and regulations that go into donating an old home for a live burn, so contact your local fire department to learn more about this option. 

It was difficult for some family members to watch the cabin burn down, but ultimately the family felt they were helping the community and, at the same time, building a new home that would be perfect for them and future generations. George and Kathy had bought the cabin for the entire family, and Jodi says they all felt it was time for the next generation to follow suit and set up a family gathering place for their own grandchildren to come and hang out, to learn about the lake and nature, and learn how to water ski and tube. The year-round home also allows them to visit George whenever they want. They are able to spend holidays together right next door. 

“We’re still kind of pinching ourselves,” says Jodi. “The first time we went out on the boat and came back out of the channel and went to our cabin, we’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s our cabin! Wow, we really did it!’ It’s beautiful, and the process working with Wes Hanson was amazing. They did a great job. We had very few hiccups; it went well.”

Each family is granted time to spend Up North alone, without the whole clan. This will be the first winter they can enjoy their new family headquarters together. 



Architect and Builder: Wes Hanson Builders, Crosslake, MN
Cabinets: Alpine Cabinetry, St. Cloud, MN
Drywall: Anthony’s Custom Drywall, Brainerd, MN
Lumber: Simonson Lumber, Crosslake, MN
Electrical: Timber Ridge Electric, Merrifield, MN
Excavating and Backfill: Wannebo Excavating, Manhattan Beach, MN
Carpet and Pergo: Bill’s Floor Covering, Pequot Lakes, MN
Pressure Tank: Blue Water Wells, Princeton, MN
Shower Doors: Brainerd Glass, Brainerd, MN
Insulation and Waterproofing: Build All Lumber, Crosslake, MN
Granite: Capital Granite, Rockville, MN
Plumbing and Fixtures: Clement Plumbing and Heating, Crosby, MN
HVAC: Crosslake Sheetmetal, Crosslake, MN
Roofing: Fiks-Con Roofing, Crosslake, MN
Concrete: Franzen Concrete, Pillager, MN
Entry Door: Great Northern Door, Maple Grove, MN
Stonework: Kevin Goode Custom Stonework, Brainerd, MN
Tile and Kitchen Backsplash: Northern Tile and Stone, Crosslake, MN
Railings: Quality Fabricating, Brainerd, MN
Garage Doors: Rapid Garage and Awning, Grand Rapids, MN