A Day In The Home of Lou and Judy Wagoner

This is a home where stories abound. From the moment you first set eyes on this place to the lingering thoughts later, there is a story about every single facet of this amazing house. If you have never had the opportunity to visit, well… you should. And if you have wandered the grounds of Icicle Ridge Winery, let me assure you…there are still many, many, many more stories, so please come back for more! 

Please allow me, as one of the daughters, to share with you a little bit (not all of it, as it is more fun to tell you in person…) about my parents home, also known as… Icicle Ridge Winery.

After years of watching my mom, Judy, draw up plan after plan of the dream home she and dad would someday build, it wasn’t until all of us girls were gone that they began construction on their log home. Louis relied on the incredible expertise of local builder, Randy Betz, to help realize this dream. They didn’t have to look very far for inspiration, as on the timbered hills above their orchard, they saw the beginning of a long dream. Thus, began the logging of 155 logs of Douglas Fir and Pine trees from the mountain behind their pear trees. Every log in the home has a diameter of about 16 inches. They are seriously huge! After they were harvested, the logs were “spud-peeled”, an amazing hard and long process of removing the bark to reveal the wood’s natural beauty. The bark is lifted off one piece at a time. The whole family spent time helping with this process, even dad and mom’s German Shepherd would “gnaw” off pieces here and there. Dad wanted to leave as much uniqueness to each log, so many branches are still left on the logs, leaving a feeling of an exquisite rustic sensation. In fact, in the markings of one log, dad and mom saw an image of a monster, so that log was left alone and is now a great feature in the home. The logs were then left to dry for over a year.

When the logs were ready to set, they were hand notched with an ax. Each log was first placed on top of the next, then they would pencil draw the shape of where they needed to carve the log to fit, bring the log back down and go to work with their axes and chisels. This effort took much time and a lot of muscle, as they were to eventually hew 240 notches by the time they finished the last log. Most of the “sanding” was done with a pressure washer. Once the logs were “set” the house was to “sit” for a year, to allow the logs to dry some more and finish their shrinking. One of the fun facts about this home, that their grandkids love to tell, is that the house is held together with only 4 bolts. Otherwise, the entire structure of the house is locked together with hand-hewn, mortise-and-tendon joints.

As a little boy, dad had hiked all over these hills, carrying a “borrowed” rifle from his father. He would target practice on the knots in the trees. Dad says he would always carefully put the gun back exactly as he had found it, so that his father wouldn’t know he’d been using it. What he didn’t count on, is that his father might actually count the bullets! What he also didn’t count on, is that some of those bullets would be discovered 40 years later in the construction of his log home. When he and cabinet maker Bruce McWhirter were going through the logs to mill, they kept rejecting log after log because of those darn bullets. Eventually they gave up and decided to keep the marred wood, bullets and all! Many of the cabinets and drawer faces have those very bullets showcased for all to see! (The moral of the story…a lie will always catch up with you!)

One of the main features in the home is the gigantic walk around fireplace that is entirely river rock from the basement to the top of the roof. Dad and mom would spend many weekends going to the many rivers in this area. Usually people go to the river to fish, boat, raft, or relax. Not mom and dad, they were there to fill up the bed of their truck with hand picked river rocks. There are a few rocks that even have stories behind them. One of the rocks looks like the face of a dog, mom wanted to have a pink rock, dad wanted a green rock. They both wanted different sizes, so mom picked up the rocks she wanted and dad would collect his! They would come back each day and unload their precious cargo, laughing and thinking gathering rocks was one of the most fun things in the world to do! (We all thought they might be going a little crazy!)

Dad and mom’s love of the outdoors is evident in what graces their 5,000 square foot home. Dad has many trophy animals he has harvested over the past years placed throughout their home. And yes, there are stories behind each and every one of those critters, as well! But alongside of hunting, dad and mom also love all aspects that nature can provide and went to work in incorporating their love of animals and put it in an art form. Dad has used antlers throughout the home. He created antler chandeliers, antler drawer pulls, lamps and other accessories for their home.

Dad and mom’s home has been on many tours, featured in several magazines, and shown on national television. It is truly an amazing house. But what makes this place a destination is Lou and Judy Wagoner themselves. They have opened up their home to invite you in and to share their many stories. I have only shared a few to whet your appetite for more…and believe me, there is much, much more. I haven’t even told you about the handmade beds in each bedroom, or the cave in one of the rooms. Then there’s the window story, and how the house almost burned down before they moved in, or who built that mammoth dining table and chairs. Did I mention the pond…yep, more stories!

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