Chicago’s Favorite Summer Camp Just Got a Serious Upgrade

A preview of Camp Wandawega’s handsome new ‘Hillhouse’

By The Editors
February 13, 2018 9:00 am

Some 90 minutes north of Chicago lies a magical place:

Camp Wandawega in Elkhorn, Wisconsin, a no-frills retreat that’s earned countless admirers for its vintage throwback cabins and picturesque lakeside surroundings.

And now they’re gearing up to open the Hillhouse, an exclusive new property scheduled to take its first guests very soon.

For the uninitiated, the story of the camp goes like this: originally a bootlegger’s brothel in the ’20s before morphing into a Polish (and then Latvian) summer camp, Camp Wandawega (now recognized by the National Register of Historic Places) was bought in 2004 by Chicago couple Tereasa Surratt and David Hernandez, who have spent years restoring the grounds into a yesteryear-inspired retreat.

The Hillhouse is no different.

Four years in the making, the new property overlooks the campgrounds from the edge of Wandawega Woods. Guests will enjoy an open-plan main level with an expansive deck, and there’s a loft lounge upstairs with a balcony and enough room to sleep at least eight.

While Camp Wandawega is known for its throwback charm, the Hillhouse is slightly more polished. The getaway is a labor of love between Wandawega and a long list of partners, from the cabin’s foundation (flooring by Hudson Flooring Company; bathroom fixtures by Kohler) to its finishing touches (furniture and lighting from Rejuvenation; custom house China from Homer Laughlin).

Add in curated art mixed with folk art from locals sourced from a decade of scouring Wisconsin’s thrift stores and you’ve got the perfect addition to the grounds: a cabin that preserves the past but also looks to the future.

The only rub? The cabin can only be rented once per week, but not more than 4 times a month, in accordance to local Airbnb ordinances. So, expect it to be a tough reservation.

Which means you’ll want a reminder when the rental actually opens to the public, which you set up right here.

Here’s to planning your first great summer getaway.


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