Sauna Talk: Cedar and Stone Nordic Sauna: Reviving A Tradition On The Shores Of Lake Superior

Welcome to a dream come true: a new community sauna for Duluth, Minnesota.

Setting up for Winter/Spring residency, right next to Lake Superior, partnering with The Inn on Lake Superior, Canal Park, Duluth, MN.

Justin Juntunen’s history of sauna

Meet My friend Justin. He grew up with sauna,  just a toddler on the floor in a bucket like father and grandfather before him. Sauna has been an integral part to his family culture. Growing up in Esko, Minnesota, a small Finnish community twenty minutes south of Duluth. 

Justin says, “I believe my Finnish immigrant ancestors have been great protectors of the cultural treasure of sauna. When they arrived in Duluth over a hundred years ago they were immigrants, they had very little. For the past century us Finns have protected this treasure of sauna. Kept it close. Now we are working to share that tradition.”

Welcome to Finn Town

Here is the place for public sauna, and this is the time in life for Justin to do it. 

Canal Park, where Cedar and Stone is located once was home to the immigrant quarter. Populated with boarding houses, and Finnish immigrants, the locals referred to the area as Finn Town. These immigrants didn’t have the resources to build a sauna at their backyard, they didn’t event own homes yet.

Thus, community saunas were built all over the city. Dotting Duluth’s hillside and on the shores of Lake Superior itself. 

Today we are seeing a revival of this public expression of sauna, but few places have the history like that of Duluth, Minnesota.

There were up to ten community saunas in Duluth, Minnesota in the late 1800s and early 1900s. When you enter Cedar and Stone Justin walks you through this history with images and news clippings on display to help you feel the tradition you are a part of.

Over the years Justin began guiding people through the experience of sauna. Friends, colleagues, anyone who would join for gatherings at the saunas his family has built. And over all these years of hosting and guiding and helping people fall in love with the sauna experience Justin helped to make the sauna understandable to the newcomer. 

Setting the table in language that guests can understand. Bringing them into the story of an experience that is healthy and de-stresses.

Then 9 years ago Justin and his wife traveled to Finland. While there they visited multiple public saunas.

One of which was a floating sauna experience to sauna and swim in the Baltic. Justin recalls, “This is a day I’m going to remember, it was magical. And I thought, if there is ever a city in the US that can do this, it’s Duluth, Minnesota.”

Duluth is burgeoning with world class biking trails, great skiing, the World’s largest freshwater lake. Quick access to nature at every turn. 

Lake Superior sunrise at The Inn on Lake Superior, Canal Park, Duluth Minnesota

Justin discussed his religious and spiritual guidance for to answer the question “What do I really want?”

The answer after two years of asking that question: “I want the flourishing of my city, our land, our people, and anyone who joins us here,” Justin reflects.  

A call and commitment to serve his city, Duluth, Minnesota. What a reason for a sauna!

The Sauna Build

Wanting to commit to his city. Not only was the door being open, but he was being nudged through it. Hundreds of hours and years of commitment on this project. 

We need activators and people to ground the mission for the long haul. Justin thinks in decades not years for this. A decade commitment to help change the temperature of Duluth, Minnesota.

The build process started 10 months ago. Sauna Days 2019, where Justin and I met.

To see a sauna of this caliber is an emotional thing for me, and it isn’t even my sauna. 

A beautiful, well designed sauna. Justin describes it also as an emotional moment, setting up on Lake Superior, and feeling the emotion well up in him: “When you are invited to something bigger than yourself, there is no guarantee that it will happen. And yet it has, and there is a profound sense of awe and gratefulness when that occurs. It brought me to tears.“

Cedar & Stone Nordic Sauna interior
Cedar & Stone Nordic Sauna deployed in front of The Inn on Lake Superior,, Duluth, Minnesota

Justin describes the process as one where a community has come together to make this happen, builders, artisans, and craftspeople. He says, “Find your partners that believe in your vision and it becomes easier to solve problems. You can break through any issue you find, because you are working together.”

Did I mention it is mobile, but it has a lobby with an 11′ ceiling!

More on the scale of a tiny home than a mobile sauna. Room to breathe, white walls, airy, modern Nordic-inspired design. 

As day turns to night it starts to glow in the hot room. Design elements: curved benches made from 12’ long clear cedar strips, a lot of glass, stove surround, Richlite paper resin exterior material. It’s a marvel.

I asked Justin as I always do to podcast guests: “If you could have a mobile sauna, and bring it anywhere in the world and sauna, where would you choose?”

“Right here.” Justin says without hesitation.

(insert high end photo here)

Sauna Getaway Contest – by end of February 2020

Enter to win a Sauna Getaway package from Cedar and Stone Nordic Sauna sponsored by SaunaTimes. 

WINNER RECEIVES:

  • x2 60min guided sauna session passes on the shores of Lake Superior in Duluth, MN. ($98 value)
  • x2 Rooftop hot tub and spa assess ($30 value)
  • Buy one get one drink package at Vikre Distillery just a few blocks from Cedar and Stone ($10 value)
  • $148 value For you and a friend to experience sauna where people have been enjoying community sauna for over 100 years on the shores of Lake Superior.
  • Plus One free night at The Inn on Lake Superior, in the shadows of Cedar & Stone Sauna. (some limitations on availability, contact Justin to confirm date you’d like to come up and he’ll reserve your free room for you. ($300 value)
  • $448 total value for this experience.

HOW TO ENTER:

  1. Share our Facebook or Instagram post of this article and tag two friends.
  2. Submissions must be shared by February 29th at 11:59pm CT. 
  3. Winner will be selected at random from entries.
  4. Winner will be notified and announced Monday, March 2nd, 2020 (Package to be redeemed anytime before Dec. 31st, 2020).

A video tour at night of Cedar & Stone Nordic Sauna:

A 360 video tour of Cedar & Stone Nordic Sauna deployed in Canal Park, Duluth, Minnesota, steps from Lake Superior, the World’s largest fresh water lake.

3 thoughts on “Sauna Talk: Cedar and Stone Nordic Sauna: Reviving A Tradition On The Shores Of Lake Superior”

  1. Great article! I grew up in saunas too. Still take them in our Esko home. In the winter some of us run out the back door into the snow. In the summer some of us jump in our pool. I’m from a Finnish family too. In the U.P. of Michigan we jump into Lake Superior from the sauna at Lahti Retreat Center. Thank you for sharing your article. Your saunas are amazing!

  2. I have a few questions on my current build:) I recently became the proud owner of the sauna times ebook and its been very helpful with my conversion of a portion of my pool/pump house into my sauna and expansion for changing room! 2 questions:
    1)Do I need to put plywood on the rafters between my loft space and the hot room ceiling insultation? I see the notes on adding an additional layer which I plan to do, but since my existing building roof line is slanted and the hot room horizontal, I want to insure I’m capping it off if needed. It opens up into the uninsulated portion of my pump house.
    2)On the images in the book it shows a string of lights behind the back rest? Are those special suana grade? I did not see them mentioned in the book or pick list. Would love to add.
    Thank you for being great resource!! Paul from Morgantown PA

  3. Hi Paul:

    So glad the ebook Sauna Build from Start to Finnish has been very helpful. I wrote it for you! Honest!

    1. Ok, let’s nerd out on the space above your hot room and below the roof of your pool house. It’s a triangle, right? As we look at this triangle, we have lots of options. If this were my sauna, if the triangle can be usable storage space, I would add plywood to what will now be the floor of your “loft.” You can toss water toys up there, or maybe a mattress for if an old college friend shows up, after being kicked out of his house.

    If the triangle is too tight for any usable space, i’d run that extra layer of batting up there, vent the space with a ridge vent or gable vent on the exterior wall, and box off the triangle. A tip on this (and i’ve done all this several times) would be to think about boxing off the triangle back about 12-16″ so it will create a shelf above your hot room common wall, for towels and such.

    How’s that?

    2. Yes, I installed that string of lights! It was a $4.99 after market solution and I loved doing it, and it came out great. Not sauna grade at all and still standing as I type, not my sauna but a client/friend’s sauna. Here’s how I did it:
    1. Opened the box of the Christmas lights.
    2. Cut off the plug.
    3. Fed the light string through a small hole drilled from hot room to changing room.
    4. Rewired the plug.
    5. Plugged in the Christmas lights to a switched outlet.
    6. The switched outlet is controlled by a dimmer switch at the wall panel.

    I really loved how this turned out. It was a DIY Raggamuffin effort several years ago, before LED technology advanced to more elaborate options, which arguably aren’t any better than a string of $4.99 Christmas lights, anyway. I know LED has gotten more fancy, as many of the products are designed for under cabinet kitchen lighting.

    Let us know how you shake out, Paul. Glad you’re advancing with your own health and wellness backyard poolside sauna retreat. (Want to trademark the acronym, or just try to repeat it 5 times?).

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