DEERWOOD -- Diana Longrie-Kline wondered where the photo she had of herself as a young girl in front of a stone castle was taken.
Thirty years later she has an answer -- all because of a stroke of serendipity.
The photo was at the top of a pile in a box when Longrie-Kline was looking for a picture to take to a work contest where co-workers attempt to match childhood shots with the adults they know.
Longrie-Kline, now a Twin Cities attorney, was about 6 or 7 years old in the photo next to an elaborate stone castle surrounded by greenery. Her brother, Jeffrey Longrie, about 2 or 3, was sitting in front on a stone bridge. It was the summer of 1964 or 1965. None of her family members knew or remembered where the photo had been taken.
"It was someplace that my grandma had brought us -- so no one really knew anything about it," Longrie-Kline said. "It was just this beautiful picture."
What happened next, Longrie-Kline said, is an example of fate in action. The workplace photo contest brought all elements together about a month ago.
A friend and co-worker, who just started her job about eight months ago, returned to her home in the Brainerd lakes area nearly every weekend. Longrie-Kline's friend, Terri Starekow, asked where the garden with its stone castle was located.
Diana Longrie-Kline, now a Twin Cities attorney, was about 7 years old when she and her brother were caught on film in front of the stone castle at the Ak-sar-ben garden near Deerwood. After a Brainerd Dispatch story appeared about the garden as part of a home tour, Longrie-Kline was able to match her childhood photo with a location.
"I said, 'I don't know. I have no idea,'" Longrie-Kline recalled during a phone interview Thursday.
That seemed to be the end of it. But then Starekow read The Dispatch Housing section on a Friday in late July and made a discovery. A familiar-looking stone castle was featured in the photo and story about a Bay Lake Area Home Tour and a former tourist attraction that's now a private residence garden.
"She thought, 'You know, this has got to be the same place,'" Longrie-Kline said. "She was so excited. She brought it into work and she said, 'I found your garden.'"
Longrie-Kline saw the date for the fund-raising tour and called to see whether she could still buy a ticket.
Rolf Westgard, one of the tour organizers, said when he received the call the tour was already full.
"As soon as she explained her story I said, 'Come on and we'll find a place for you,'" Westgard said.
When Longrie-Kline arrived she had her childhood photo in hand. Even rain could not dampen her enthusiasm for the day. She drove to the Deerwood area at 5:30 a.m. and hours later she was on a tour bus.
About 20 years ago the current owners of the home and garden along Tame Fish Lake bought the run-down tourist attraction. They took on the challenge of maintaining the gardens and have a goal of repairing all the water features, which have not worked for 20 years. Each year they plant more than 100 flats of impatiens, geraniums, wave petunias and other plants in the garden.
Longrie-Kline was able to talk with the current residents of the home. And she realizes how rare it was to be able to locate the stone garden, especially after it became a private home.
"To me that is truly incredible," she said. It was strange to see the garden from the photo in person. "Now I will definitely remember being there. I didn't remember being there as a kid, but I will certainly remember this now."
Longrie-Kline lived in Grand Rapids as a child. Her grandmother, the one who took her to the Ak-sar-ben garden near Deerwood, lived there as well. Longrie-Kline has traveled around the globe, including the Great Wall of China, but she said it was a trip to the lakes area where she found her castle.
The home tour reached its goal of paying a share of the cost of a new Lions' Mobility Bus to serve the area.
About 420 people went through the first home tour, on Aug. 2 and 3 conducted by the Bay Lake Lions and Deerwood Lakes Lions clubs.
The tour grossed $21,500 with net proceeds of $13,500. They are planning for next year and an annual home tour event. Longrie-Kline said she hopes the event becomes an annual one.
"They met their goal and they helped a girl find her castle," she said. "It was a wonderful, wonderful trip."
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