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Our Vacation Rental


Many of you may recognize this building.  It use to be the Lighthouse Restaurant on the Homestead Rd.  Pat and I bought it last fall and turned it into a vacation rental.  We are calling it The North Shore Lighthouse Suites.  It has 2 "suites" which accommodate up to 6 people in each one.

This is our website www.NorthShoreLighthouseSuites.com

So if you have out of town guests that need a place to stay, consider this as an option.  See rates and renting information on our website.

Property description

The North Shore Lighthouse Suites are in the final stages of a full remodel. The building was a copy of a light house in Copper Harbor Michigan. Prior to our purchase of the property in the fall of 2014, the building served as a quaint nautical themed restaurant.

It has now become two very spacious living quarters with all the comforts of home and more. Each unit has been named after two infamous Lake Superior Ships, the Fitzgerald and the Anderson. Each suite offers large master bedrooms with spacious bathrooms, including whirlpool tubs. The additional bedroom is also spacious and comfortable. The open floor plan for the kitchen and living room make it perfect for our group to unwind after a long day exploring the North Shore. Along with the cozy gas fireplaces, you will find your own large private patio. Equipped with furniture and gas grill. You will also find massive fire pits that will seat everyone in your group. No need to bring firewood, that is supplied free of charge. Need to do laundry? No problem, we have a washer and dryer conveniently located in each suite. 

Big groups or families can rent out both suites to accommodate up to 12 people!

Our opening target date is May 20th. Just in time for Memorial Day Weekend. We wanted to start advertising the suites before completion for any inquiries. More pictures to come soon. 

Anderson Suite ~ Sleeps 6
Master bedroom with King size bed
King size bed in room #2
Queen size sofa sleeper in living room

Fitzgerald Suite ~ sleeps 6
Master bedroom with King size bed
Queen size bed in room #2
Queen size sofa sleeper in living room

Former Lighthouse on Homestead building gets new life as vacation rental

Raising five daughters, Kathy and Pat Kunst preferred to stay at vacation rentals instead of hotels when they traveled as a family.

“We rented a whole house,” Kathy Kunst said. “It was just nice to have a place to cook our own meals and spread out a little.”

It’s how they got the idea to open a vacation rental themselves near Lake Superior not far from their home in Lakewood Township.

So when they saw that the former Lighthouse on Homestead building 14 miles northeast of Duluth was for sale, they thought it would be perfect.

The lighthouse-shaped restaurant, modeled after the Copper Harbor lighthouse in Michigan, was built for a restaurant in 2007. But the popular eatery closed four years later when the owners had difficulty meeting higher mortgage payments and the property went into foreclosure.

The building sat empty for three years before the Kunsts bought it in September 2014. They spent the next seven months converting the space into two spacious upscale vacation rental suites in addition to landscaping.

Since the North Shore Lighthouse Suites opened in June, it has rented out every weekend through early November, bringing new life to the site on Homestead Road between Scenic Highway 61 and the expressway to Two Harbors.

Most guests have been from the Twin Cities area, including Sue Bahe of Champlin, Minn. She raves about her September stay there with her husband, daughter and son-in- law. Her daughter found it on vrbo.com, a vacation rental website. Bahe

and her husband have stayed in vacation rentals around the country,

usually with good experiences.

“But this one was just over the top,” she said. “It was absolutely amazing. It was the best place we’ve stayed in.”

The couple opt for vacation rentals because they’re like a home away from home. With kitchens, they don’t have to eat out. And if they share the space with another couple, the costs can be split.

 Continuing the building’s North Shore nautical theme, the suites are named after Great Lakes freighters — the Edmund Fitzgerald, which sank in Lake Superior in 1975, and the Arthur M. Anderson, which survived the storm and likely received Fitzgerald’s last communication. 

Each suite has two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a whirlpool, kitchen, living room, gas fireplaces, washer and dryer and a large private patio and fire pit area stocked with wood. With a convertible sofa in the living rooms, each suite can accommodate six people. Costs vary from $225 per night in the winter to $295 per night in the summer, with a two-night minimum. Rates are higher for event weekends.

The Kunsts’ efforts also have gotten kudos from the original owners, who went on to operate the Lighthouse at Emily’s restaurant in Knife River for four years.

“They’ve done a wonderful job,” said Claire Pierson. “They’re very nice people. They really worked hard to keep the integrity of the building. We’re happy they’re there and that they’re using the building.”

Others in the community have been supportive as well.

“Nobody wanted it to become an abandoned building,” Pat Kunst said. “When we did the landscaping, there wasn’t one car going by that didn’t stop to look.”

Getting started

North Shore Lighthouse Suites isn’t the first business for the Kunsts. They have owned Duluth Dirt and Gravel for 20 years. And about 10 years ago, they had a business selling biodegradable garbage bags. They’ve also tackled a building conversion before, turning an old country church into their home.

The couple did their homework before buying the Lighthouse building. They talked to others in the area with vacation rentals and to Duluth Township staff to see if there were any rules or restrictions regarding vacation rentals. They found none.

“They classified it as a hotel because it’s a commercial property,” said Kathy Kunst, 48. “We didn’t have to get a permit, just a license from the health department.”

They got a good deal on the 3,600-square-foot building. It had cost the original owners $700,000 to build it and set up the restaurant. When the Kunsts entered the picture, the bank’s asking price had been reduced from $299,000 to $174,000, they said.

Negotiating, they got the price down even more. But they spent just as much on the renovations.

“It would have been more if we had not done a lot of the work ourselves,” said Pat Kunst, 47, who served as the general contractor.

The couple consulted with the building’s original architect, who gave them ideas on converting the space. They got the original blueprints from the builder to help in the effort.

After closing on the property in September 2014, they immediately started on the landscaping, including transforming the 40-car parking lot into a large yard with an outdoor fire-pit area. When snow came in November, work shifted inside.

Pat Kunst was under a time limit to finish the conversion during the winter off-season of his dirt and gravel business.

Their daughter Calie, who was home from Air Force basic training, helped him with the interior demolition that gutted the space.

Kunst hired a crew to frame the new layout that divided the space into two suites. He hired out for the electrical, plumbing and heating work. He got help with the rest of the project from contractor Jon Rowray and friends Eric Helland and Shawn and Jeremy Rose.

Carrying on tradition

The Kunsts kept several features of the original restaurant. The entryway is unchanged, and the bow of a skiff that greeted diners is still there, now separating the doors to the two suites.

The Anderson suite includes the restaurant’s fieldstone fireplace and bar, which was shortened to serve as a breakfast bar. The stone base for a gas stove is in the Fitzgerald suite. The original track lighting remains in each suite, as does the aesthetically pleasing sound-quieting ceiling panels. Original maple trim and doors were reused and others were made to match.

“They did a very nice job in keeping it consistent with what we had,” former co-owner Pierson said. “They incorporated some of our stuff, and we gave them some stuff from the old place.”

Kathy Kunst chose most of the materials used, including sinks, countertops, carpeting, tiles, faucets and other hardware as well as the appliances.

“We worked on a budget and tried to get quality materials,” she said.

The completion of the work came as her mother was moving to California and wanting to sell much of the furnishings in her four-bedroom Duluth home. The furnishings were modern, tasteful and in great condition.

Kathy bought much of them to furnish the suites, from the sofas to the dishes, pictures and knickknacks. With different furnishings added to different designs, each suite is unique.

Former guest Bahe praised their attention to detail.

“Everything was the best quality, from the towels to the carpeting to the dishes and all the furniture,” she said. “You can tell they thought this through. It has absolutely everything you would need. We were just blown away.’’