News - Sauk Valley

‘There’s a spirit’: Legacy of Ogle County settlers cabin endures

Owner Tim Benedict walks down to the banks of the Rock River that runs in front of the structure.

Pastors, poets, artists and musicians have all found inspiration here.

This rural riverfront refuge in the woods is an early 1900s cabin renovated, revitalized and with renewed love by owner Tim Benedict.

He took over the family cabin in the early 2000s.

“Fifty years of disrepair had the place hanging by a thread. It was in danger of collapsing,” Benedict said.

Benedict’s grandfather was Albert Dahlberg, a dental anthropologist.

Dahlberg bought the Ogle County property in 1950.

One of the four cabins was built by brothers and early settlers Andrew and Jacob Hoff.

Benedict has fond memories of the place as a kid, punctuated by a photo of his sister and himself on the home’s porch that is now on display in the living room.

After buying the property from the family, Benedict went to work.

The repairs included shoring up walls, repairing the roof, improving drainage and building a sea wall.

In 2015, Benedict listed the Goose Island cabin on AirBNB.

“Every cent I bring in I put back into improvements,” he said.

The latest change includes building an outdoor stage, lighting and a shower facility so he can host large groups.

That’s a big motivation for Benedict. He wants the property to be used by groups devoted to saving history or at risk kids.

“I really want groups that can benefit from the spirit of this place to utilize the property,” Benedict said.

“There’s a spirit here I can’t explain nor will I try,” said Benedict with a laugh.

The place can be a source of inspiration, even impulsive action.

That included an urge to immediately propose to his now-fiancee in the cabin’s living room.

There are many other similar tales. Benedict said a pastor with writer’s block once wrote a year’s worth of sermons during his stay.

Another resident plucked a guitar from the corner and now performs for audiences.

The father of DNA mapping, Chicago scientist James Watson, kept a map of the birds he saw along the banks.

Benedict says films have been made here.

The rock band Portugal. The Man even called it home for a short time.

Benedict desire for the cabin is simple: “I want to keep it open so as many people can enjoy it as possible.”

Alex Paschal

Alex T. Paschal - apaschal@shawmedia.com

Photojournalist for Sauk Valley Media