Thursday, October 27, 2011

Lost Stories: Yesterday and Today - The Lake Shore Resorts

The annals of Lake County history are filled with the works accomplished by our first pioneers.  Since the late eighteenth century , many rapid changes in the pattern of life occurred during the hundred years that followed.  An Industrial Revolution mushroomed.  Lake County cities grew accordingly.  Agriculture remained a staple of our lake shore region.  One significant change was almost hidden amid the quiet and comfortable life of our county's growing prosperity.  It was the realization of the leisure and recreational possibilities of our greatest resource - Lake Erie.

On Hardy Road, a lake resort called Linden Beach was founded in 1870.  Situated on what had been Governor Huntington's farm, the dining room and tent colonies flourished for the next quarter century.  To the west of Linden Beach, the Shore Club was established in 1898.  The Shore Club sat on the farm properties of the Lathrop and Smart families.  The Club House was a two story frame structure with porches.  Cottages were built adjacent to the Club House and Clevelanders came to vacation there through 1921.  The Club House sat on what became the Diamond Alkali Company property.

Mentor-on-the-Lake was flourishing during the 1890's.  A summer hotel at Salida Beach on Lake Drive was popular.  The resort hotel was three stories with wide porches.  Managed by R. A. Parks, the hotel was later sold to a church for use as a girl's society ( Holiday House).  Mentor Headlands was another lake resort.  Willoughbeach Park ( opposite the present Shoregate Shopping Center in Willowick) was in many ways the most famous resort in its day.  Located alongside the Interurban railroad line, by 1898 an amusement park was added to the site that already included cottages, bathing areas and dance pavillions.

Other famous Lake County resorts included the Little Mountain House, the Little Mountain Eagle and the Stocking House.  1831 saw Simeon Reynolds build a large hotel known as the Little Mountain House.  Although the topography made it a beauty spot and desired destination, Reynolds use of recreational activities cemented its allure to those who sojourned.  1850 saw D.W. Stocking of Chardon build the 'colossal' hotel resort of the era.  Lasting over 25 years, it served as the Little Mountain Club to Cleveland's millionaires.  Dr. H. R. Gatchell and Dr. Storm Rosa combined with William S. Gardiner in 1855 to operate their Little Mountain Eagle House. It began as a  treatment site for invalids but also served as a boarding house for some years after.  Charles Avery bought the Little Mountain House in 1868,  Renamed the Lakeview House, Avery prospered.  He added cottages to the hotel footprint.  Every amenity and every recreational amusement of the day was present.

The Little Mountain and Lake Shore memories may be waning in 2011.  Today few houses remain.  Little Mountain is mostly private property.  Lake Cottages were razed.  Clubs lost their members.  Former summer home visitors like James A. Garfield, George Hopper, and Harry Coulby bought their own residences. The growing Cleveland auto industry allowed for new vacation spots to emerge.  Only pictures recall what once was.   However, for nearly a century the pattern of  social life made Lake County a destination.  The new 'branding' from the Lake County's Visitors Bureau is " Think Lake County".  It seems that Lake County never has lost its appeal.

1 comment:

  1. This story is interesting. I have never known that places such as Lake Shore Resorts have a colorful history behind them. It makes visiting them more intriguing.

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