History of Dunvilla
In the late 1800s, Wilson E. Dunn purchased 160 acres and more than 2,500 feet of shoreline on Lake Lizzie from a homesteader for a mere forty-five dollars. At the turn of the century, he and his son, Roy, began to pursue their dream. Tourists had recently discovered the lake region, popular for its abundance of fishing, hunting, and beautiful water features. They arrived in droves from throughout the midwest, camping along the shoreline, or even renting space in area haylofts. The Dunns decided to build on the growing popularity of the region. Their first cabin was built in 1908, with more to follow, eventually including two dozen cabins stretched along the Lake Lizzie shoreline. The resort included docks, pavilions, and boats. The large main lodge was built in 1929.
From the warm stone fireplace, to the expansive upstairs barn loft, the charm of The Barn will leave you and your guests with a memory that will last a lifetime. With space to accommodate over 250 people, separate areas for dining, dancing, outdoor patio featuring breathtaking views of Lake Lizzie and the surrounding farmland, The Barn provides the ideal four-season setting for any occasion.
A 1930 brochure described Dunn’s attractions. “… a modern Summer hotel… the finest and best to be found… drinking water from a well recognized as the best in the state… fishing as good as to be found anywhere in the state… good bathing beach with sand bottom… fresh produce from our own farm every day.” A concluding banner proudly proclaimed, “There Are No Dull Days At Dunn’s!”
Roy Dunn eventually took a job in government in 1912, as Lake Lizzie postmaster. His interest in public office grew, and he was elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives in 1924, a position he held for 20 years. Dunn retired in 1966, to devote his full attention to the running of Dunn Lodge. He sold the resort in 1974 to Robert Rife. Rife’s plan to turn the complex into condominiums fell short, and he deeded the property to the local bank. The bank leased out the property to various restauranteurs throughout the years, with varying success. Finally, in 1989 Robert Berquist, the president of Pelican Valley State Bank, bought out the bank’s interest. The antiquated cabins were razed and the first of the condominium units was sold in 1992.
In 2003, the property with the barn and the original log cabin was purchased by Monica and Greg Kaiser. They beautifully remodeled the main floor of the barn to hold their real estate offices until 2010. The log cabin gift shop was established in the early 90s by a local family, and was later run by From the Hart gifts. In 2014, it was established as The Shop at Dunvilla and continues to draw customers with its unique local treasures, decor, clothing and gifts.
After sitting vacant for several years, Jon and Linda Grefsrud purchased the current property and worked with Eric Miller and Diana Arfine on renovating the property to become The Barn at Dunvilla and The Shop at Dunvilla. The Barn at Dunvilla hosted private family events in 2013 and then fully opened to the public in 2014. Since that time, The Barn has been privileged to host families and events, helping to create wonderful lifelong memories.