Mary Ann Lodge, Built by Feargus B. Squires
Today, we know this complex of three charming log cabins as Mary Ann Lodge. It sits on the east bank of the Au Sable North Branch about six miles south of Lovells. Few people are aware that it was actually built by Englishman, Fergus B. Squires, in 1925.
Feargus was born in Essex, England in 1850 and came to the United States in 1860. Squires, whose business career began as an office boy for an oil company, joined Standard Oil of Ohio in 1885 as co-manager with Frank Rockefeller, John D. Rockefeller’s brother. This self -made man worked his way up to Vice President of Standard Oil of Ohio. But, he retired from Standard Oil in 1909 over a disagreement with the company when he secured a high ranking position for his son, Reginald.
Squires was undoubtedly lured to the North Branch by fellow industrialist William B. Mershon. At Mershon’s request, Squires sent Mershon a letter in 1906 detailing in writing a story about his experience with a southern lumber pirate. He had shared the incident with Mershon by the camp fire while on a fishing trip to the North Branch.
Feargus B. Squires at corner of the main cabin
Squires fell in love with the North Branch and bought 800 acres of property covering both sides of the river downstream and adjacent to Mershon’s property. But, it was not until 1925 that he began building his beloved fishing lodge. Pictures show Squires in typical English attire, tweed coat, tie, vest, knickers and knee socks, supervising Mr. Barnes in the construction of the main cabin. The finished compound consisted of a main cabin, a guest cabin and a cooks quarters / dinning cabin. We do not know much about Squires fishing prowess, but we know he loved the North Branch so much that he brought his brother in law, John Rust, up to his cabin. Rust also fell under the spell of the wonderful trout stream and north woods. He bought a large parcel of land just above dam 4 and built a quintessential log fishing camp, High Banks Lodge, on the west side of the river. A couple of miles up-stream was the site of William B. Mershon’s favorite fishing camp, High Bank Lodge on the east side of the river.
Front view of main cabin (note waste log on ground)
Upon Feargus Squires death, the property transferred to son Reginald who sold “Squire Camp” to fellow Ohioan, Harvey O. Yoder. We know nothing of Yoder except that he maintained the complex as Squires had built it and sold all 800 acres to Alva Babcock (AB) Caple, in 1951. It was Caple who changed the name of this scenic vacation complex to Mary Ann Lodge, honoring his wife. Caple passed in 1961 and the property went to his daughter Clara Caple Kuenzel and her husband Franklin Kuenzel. Their family cared for and enjoyed the property for many years and when Clara died in 1998, the property was split with 400 acres and the log buildings going to daughter, Nancy Ann Kuenzel Peterson and her husband Duane. The north 400 acres were inherited by son, James Alva Kuenzel and his wife Darby. Jim and Darby built a beautiful home, with out-buildings, on their property which their family thoroughly enjoys all year long. Both 400 acre parcels contained 200 acres on each side of the North Branch.
For almost a century, Mary Ann Lodge, sitting astride the North Branch and consisting of 400 acres, three historic cabins, a horse barn and out buildings, has become a land mark for fishermen and boaters who enjoy this wild and scenic river.