Oak Tree Lodge owner
Oak Tree Lodge owner Owner Linda Banasiak [Photographer / Jubilee Edgell]

Serene Surroundings in Starke County

Photographer / Jubilee Edgell

Sometimes, the most profound experiences of life can be revealed within the stillness.

At the Oak Tree Lodge, shrouded within a wooded enclave of trees in rural Starke County, serenity and calm resonate with guests from the moment of arrival to the time of departure. And that is exactly how Owner Linda Banasiak envisioned it.

Oak Tree Lodge at 1355 East 350 South near Knox.
Oak Tree Lodge at 1355 East 350 South near Knox.

Even so, the new lodge encompasses a reimagining from its original purpose, one that holds a tremendous amount of nostalgia for Linda. Her late husband, Phil, built the enormous, barn-influenced shop in the 1980s as a place to shelter farm implements and handle farming machinery maintenance. The couple was then serving as stewards of the land with a vast farming operation that spanned some 2,000 acres. With the support and assistance of the Banasiak family and their loyal friends, Phil was able to create a structure of immense proportions, 96-by-48 feet in total.

Then in 2013, Phil passed away. For a time the building that had been such a labor of love for the family sat silently, floundering in its purpose. But then, Linda was seized by inspiration.

“I was seeking to augment my income and I could see its potential,” she said. “I recognized the need for significant repairs, including replacing deteriorating lumber and metal siding, so I teamed up with Rich Archer to devise a plan to transform the shop into a rental lodge.”

In Archer, Linda found both a partner and a blessing. She often references his talents and skills as “magical.” Through his tireless efforts, combined with the ongoing vision and efforts from that same heart-bonded group as before, Linda’s dream came to fruition in the span of nine months. Then, as now, friends and family were an integral part in the lodge’s completion.

The name of this countryside getaway was chosen deliberately, Banasiak said, as a testament to the strength and character that oak trees have come to represent. “It pays homage to the abundance of oak trees in the area, symbolizing strength, endurance, protection, success and stability,” she said.

The Oak Tree Lodge is listed as an Airbnb spot, and as such, offers a unique spin on the traditional hotel stay, while offering a measure of self-sufficiency and privacy. The design is intentional, to closely encompass all of the comforts of home, such as a working kitchen well-stocked with appliances and dinnerware. There are two private bedrooms on the main level, and an open-air concept on the second level, with beds at each end of the wing. They can be sectioned off with curtains for a more intimate feel.

On the main floor, there are two spacious bathrooms with walk-in showers, with toiletries and linens provided. The living space is tastefully adorned with farmhouse flair and a barn-themed motif, with comfy couches, throw blankets and a dining room table. Pets are welcome at the Oak Tree Lodge, with an area beneath one set of stairs that can comfortably accommodate your furry family members.

As the weather transitions to summertime, guests can immerse themselves in the natural surroundings by gathering around the fire pit, spending time at the grill or navigating the landscape. Linda and Rich expressed a desire to cultivate a walking path through the adjacent woods, and have already taken steps, so to speak, to make that a reality. The spirit of the Oak Tree Lodge is quite evident before guests even cross the threshold of the entrance, with a trio of signs along the driveway’s edge that invite folks to “rest, relax, and renew.” The venue is also an inviting space for folks who seek lodging options for weddings, bridal parties and other group events.

“As you visit the Oak Tree Lodge, nestled among these resilient trees, we hope you find peace, charm and the opportunity to create lasting memories with your loved ones in this rustic haven,” Banasiak said.

To learn more about the facility, visit airbnb.com, contact Banasiak directly at linbanasiak@gmail.com, or call 574-806-1025. The Oak Tree Lodge can be found at 1355 East 350 South near Knox.

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