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Among Ruthann Lorentzen's favorite memories growing up in Detroit Lakes was lake life. When she and her siblings became adults, they found themselves living in different parts of the country.

"There were five families of my generation, and my parents had retired to Arizona," said Lorentzen, who was a Microsoft executive based in Seattle at the time. "And because we no longer had that place in Detroit Lakes together, we wanted a place where we could spend time together."

Lorentzen and her siblings started to search for a lake place. They found that slice of heaven off Elbow Lake Road in Birchwood, Wis., on a 57-acre site with three private lakes and a protected forest.

"We were just captured by the ability to site the place," Lorentzen said about the decision to purchase the property in 1997 and build from scratch.

'Montana ski lodge'

Lorentzen brought in Katherine Hillbrand of SALA Architects and interior designer Talla Skogmo to create the new family retreat.

Design details included curved wood railings, doors made of wood reclaimed from wine casks and several wood-burning fireplaces. The main lodge is made of log and stone. In addition to the main lodge with sleeping quarters, a guest house and a bunkhouse — all with lake views — were also built.

"There are moments when I walk in and think this feels like a beautiful, comfortable Montana ski lodge that happens to be in the beauty of the Midwest," Lorentzen said. "There's a wonderful contrast with the big logs and the chiseled rock on the two-story fireplace in the living room. You have this primal combination of wood and stone."

A place in which several families could convene was also on her wish list.

"I wanted them to design spaces with privacy in mind. Each of the families have complete suites," Lorentzen said. "Then when you want, you can walk downstairs and have group time together."

And the property became a place where the extended family could gather around a big custom dining room table to play cards or share a meal. Enjoying water activities and heading to the pickleball court also were family favorites.

"There was this wonderful kid family chaos when you were down at the lake," Lorentzen said. When winter came, "we skied and snowshoed. It was sort of a private family resort because there was so much to do."

Time to sell

After more than 20 years, it's time to sell.

"A bunch of our kids have grown up and live in various parts of the country. Because people are scattered geographically and my parents aren't alive anymore, it's just a little less of a gathering place," said Lorentzen, who lives in the Pacific Northwest. "We're just in a different era right now."

Listing agent Jacqueline Day said the property accommodates large groups, with lodging quarters that allow individuals to spread out. The main lodge features six en suites and sleeps 24. Meanwhile, the guest house accommodates 10 guests, while a bunkhouse sleeps four.

The thoughtful design "shows in every aspect of the property," Day said. "Even the furnishings are spectacular and timeless and fit beautifully with the architecture."

Day said the property is also rare in its range of amenities. Outdoor features include two pizza ovens, a hot tub, a floating dock and, of course, that pickleball court. In addition, furnishings, watercraft, ATVs and more are included in the purchase price.

"It has all the bells and whistles," she said.

Lorentzen also touted the location.

A drive of just more than two hours "makes it easy to get there from the Twin Cities. And there is the little town of Birchwood 5 miles away where you can get all the basics such as groceries on your way," she said. And when you get there, "it's just a beautiful, quiet private retreat."

Jacqueline Day and Partners, a division of Edina Realty, (; 763-522-9000) have the $3.8 million listing.