Exploring the Thrifted, Renovated and Beautiful New Hillhouse at Camp Wandewega

Camp Wandawega - Elkhorn, Wisconsin

I’m not sure when my siblings and I got old enough to get married and go on bachelorette trips together, but I guess it just goes to show adulting isn’t quite as bad as I thought. If it means I get to run around a vintage campground in Wisconsin day drinking Tito’s and binge eating s’mores cupcakes, I’ll take it. (aggressive bug bites and all)

As maid of honor, you would think I would be the mastermind behind this amazing weekend excursion, but that title belongs to my incredibly talented big sis Katie. In all honesty, I’ve never been on any girls trip quite as elaborately planned as this one - but it was exactly what I needed.

Since I work on the weekends, I don’t really get to hang out with girlfriends (or friends in general) as much as I would like to. So a full 3 days spent relaxing, drinking, crafting and belly laughing with 10 of the best girls and my sisters was exactly what I needed to recharge the old batteries.

Spent Day 2 throwing axes in our lumberjack shirts and praying no one lost a toe.

Spent Day 2 throwing axes in our lumberjack shirts and praying no one lost a toe.

I need a break from all the noise. I want to breathe clean air and swim in clean water. I want to sit on the porch of an old cabin and listen to the stillness. I want to be out where things are simple and every breath is a reminder that there is beauty and magic left in this world.
— Brooke Hampton
Map of Camp Wandawega. Image via  www.wandawega.com

Map of Camp Wandawega. Image via www.wandawega.com

We spent day two really exploring the campground and all its AMAZING buildings. Thanks to this handy dandy map, you can see what I mean. Our crew slept in the top level of the Bunkhouse (16), ate a delicious Friday night dinner outdoors next to the Treehouse (17) and threw a couple axes up at the Archery Range (32). But the building that really captured my attention and sparked some serious inspiration was the Hillhouse (1).

Camp Wandawega - Elkhorn Wisconsin


This house was originally built in 1930 on what used to be the estates of the Wandawega Country Club. The history of this place is SO cool, you guys. The grounds of Wandawega were used as a speakeasy in the times of prohibition, complete with trap doors, secret rooms to store booze and a hidden staircase leading down to the water so partiers could escape by boat. (Where was that kind of ingenuity when I was in high school?)

The grounds were also home to a brothel in the lower floor of the bunkhouse (the floor below where we slept). So really, this place was wildin’ in the 20s. This decade of debauchery continued into the 30s until the Madame was sentenced to prison time for her operation of a speakeasy and prostitution ring. Yeah, the whole operation was run by a woman. In that day and age, that’s pretty bad ass.

So basically, this little house up on the hill overlooking the camp has seen A LOT of weird shit go on over the last 87 years

Wandawega then became a lake resort that much more closely resembles what it is today. It was then purchased by the Catholic Church and served as a community for Latvian Catholics before it was sold to its current owners.

The current owners have done one heck of a job of restoring this place into the time capsule that it is today. In fact, they don’t like to keep anything that was made after the 1960s on the grounds. Their decorating and style is incredible and every building is furnished with unique antiques and furniture pieces.

The Hillhouse, their latest project, is no exception.

Camp Wandawega - Elkhorn Wisconsin

Let’s take a peek inside at this renovated little beauty. Let’s start with the living room when you first walk in…

Camp Wandawega - Elkhorn Wisconsin
Camp Wandawega - Elkhorn Wisconsin
Camp Wandawega - Elkhorn Wisconsin
Camp Wandawega - Elkhorn Wisconsin
Camp Wandawega - Elkhorn Wisconsin
Camp Wandawega - Elkhorn Wisconsin
Camp Wandawega - Elkhorn Wisconsin

Okay, please pick your jaw up off the table and wipe your drool. Also, you should probably be sitting down when I tell you that SHE THRIFTED ALMOST EVERYTHING IN THIS HOUSE.

I have a love for antique pieces. Not only because of the character they bring to a space but because they can be CHEAP. It’s all about knowing how to style them, ladies and gents. I’d have to say the owners absolutely killed this one.

Let’s move on to the one of a kind kitchen, shall we…

Camp Wandawega - Elkhorn Wisconsin
Camp Wandawega - Elkhorn Wisconsin
Camp Wandawega - Elkhorn Wisconsin
Camp Wandawega - Elkhorn Wisconsin
Camp Wandawega - Elkhorn Wisconsin

Wouldn’t it be amazing if every refrigerator came with fancy hardware and a moose head to mount above it? Let’s move on to the other nooks and crannies of the house. The bathrooms were all black, so they definitely spoke to my soul. Bedrooms were decorated with a few statement antique pieces and all walls were stark white.

I don’t care what anyone says, white walls and antiques are a match made in interior design heaven. Lets continue our tour, shall we…

Camp Wandawega - Elkhorn Wisconsin
Camp Wandawega - Elkhorn Wisconsin
Camp Wandawega - Elkhorn Wisconsin
Camp Wandawega - Elkhorn Wisconsin
Camp Wandawega - Elkhorn Wisconsin

I think I could live here for the rest of my life. Well, as long as the infamous ghost of the dead prostitute doesn’t decide to share the room with me. Then I’m out.

Watch the amazing video that my super talented big sis made of our little weekend adventure!

travelErin Gallagher