Naniboujou Lodge

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    Mark Lindsey

    On the northeast tip of Minnesota, on the shores of Lake Superior, is the Naniboujou Lodge and Restaurant.

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    Mark Lindsey

    The main dining room has been restored to its former glory.

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    Mark Lindsey

    It features Cree Indian–inspired designs and Minnesota’s largest stone fireplace, according to the lodge.

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    Mark Lindsey

    The ceiling has been referred to as the “North Woods’ answer to the Sistine Chapel.”

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    Mark Lindsey

    It was painted in the late 1920s by French artist Antoine Gouffee.

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    Mark Lindsey

    In the lobby is a “gossip chair,” which dates from the late 1920s, when the lodge first opened.

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    Mark Lindsey

    The Naniboujou was conceived of as a private club, members-only, with no promotional advertising.

Decades before Michael Jordan, Mike Ditka, Wayne Gretzky, or John Elway got into the hospitality biz, there was the Naniboujou Lodge in Grand Marais, Minnesota—northeast of Duluth, on the shores of Lake Superior. Opened in 1929 by a group that included Babe Ruth, Ring Lardner, and Jack Dempsey, the lodge was conceived as a private club. Alas, the Jazz Age wound down, the market crashed, and the lodge’s mortgage was foreclosed.

After changing hands over the years, the lodge is now on the National Register of Historic Places, and it has been reopened as The Naniboujou Lodge and Restaurant. What’s more, the eye-popping dining room ceiling has been gloriously restored. Painted in the late 1920s by French artist Antoine Gouffee, it's Cree Indian–meets–Art Deco gone psychedelic. For a look, check out the slideshow. Wayne Gretzky, eat your heart out.  

Amy Albert is a senior editor at Builder.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Duluth, MN.