Phillip Otterness was an early member of our group. His uncle, Marty, lives at his family farmstead near Maple, WI, where he’s a caregiver for his father. Marty grew up using the sauna at the farmstead. It had been his favorite backyard sanctuary and retreat until it burned down on December 18th.

Philip reached out to our group and we responded, raising $1000 to help rebuild the sauna in just 3 days! 

Phillip’s original message to our group:

Sad story! The sauna my grandpa built decades ago caught fire last Friday. My uncle is my grandma’s live-in caregiver and it has been his sanctuary out there in rural WI. ***Does anyone have a small portable sauna they want to sell?*** I want to buy one for my uncle to use until he can rebuild. Also, if anyone is inclined, I set up a little fundraiser.

Our group did this sauna meister proud by helping Phillip reach his fundraising goal in time to deliver some good news back to Marty and his father by Christmas morning!



Phillip’s update to our group:

Merry Christmas, Marty! This weekend I was able to visit Marty and hand off the funds we raised for the sauna rebuild.

We talked about the project. Some good news: the foundation remains in tact, most of the floor joists are solid, the stove (below the floor level) is still good, the buckets were salvaged and… the wood pile didn’t burn!

Speaking of wood, Marty recently fell a number of trees near the house that he had planted when he was in 4H as a kid. Prior to the sauna burning, he had these trees milled into 2×4 lumber. It’s been sitting in the barn waiting to be put to good use. It’s funny he had no idea how useful those trees would be when he planted them however many years back.

You can see in the photos where the chimney was. Marty thinks that the old masonry chimney from the 1930’s must have had a crack in it where some ashes got through and started the roof smoldering. The fire didn’t break out until long after the fire had died out in the stove that night. Lesson for sauna people: have those chimneys inspected.

Also, I walked down the hill where you can see the foundation for the building before it had been hauled up the hill from the creek on skids with the town grader, closer to the house, onto it’s current foundation around 50 years ago. It used to be sitting by the creek… kind of wish they’d kept it there… shallow creek but would be good for cooling off in the summer.

My grandma says it was her step-dad who build the sauna in the 1930s. It has been a well used and much loved fixture on the Laakso farm. I’m so glad Marty is planning on bringing it back to life. I’m leaving this page up so all of us who have pitched in will have a place to watch the process unfold.

Marty has expressed his gratitude to all of us.  Furthermore, he has requested that we not use the money to buy a temporary portable winter sauna (as I’d considered), but instead, to set it aside to use towards purchasing building materials throughout the winter in preparation for the rebuild.

And Phillip passed this message along directly from Marty:

A Thank you for all the support and the Sauna Yule Log for Christmas! . . .Gonna peicemeal a new joint by july!

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