Bay Village's lakeside cottages
City folks looking for a place to summer and enjoy the sunshine, beach, and Lake Erie waters, started noticing the southern shoreline in Dover Township in the 1880s with the thought of staying for days or weeks. Along our township shoreline cottages started to appear. Farmers, who saw the desire of city folk wanting to enjoy the lakeside, built cottages for extra income. Most cottages were simple wooden construction with single lathe walls, a light bulb hanging from the ceiling, and no indoor toilet.
Washington Lawrence, President of National Carbon, a millionaire living at 23200 Lake Road in the east end of the township, invited his friends to summer with him in fine cottages that boasted most of the comforts of home at the Dover Bay Colony. The Osborn family built three cottages at Interurban Stop #29 east of Sherman Osborn’s home at 29434 Lake Road, across from sister Betsy Osborn Williams' farmhouse. These cottages were two-story structures containing three bedrooms and a bathroom.
The Sadler family sold lots for cottages on Ruth and Florence Roads near 29737 Lake Road, built some themselves and rented. West of Bradley Road, Mr. Rummage had two cottages, one at 30960 Lake Road near Stop #36. At Eagle Cliff was the Eagle Cliff Subdivision, a row of two-story cottages that sat next to the road, with the Methodist Episcopal Church camp grounds operated by Mr. Stone stretching behind them to the lake. There were more cottages across Lake Road on Eagle Cliff Road. First the railroad and then the interurban made coming to the lake so easy.
George Drake inherited lake-front property from his grandmother, Mary Ann Aldrich, who lived in the 1830 Aaron Aldrich house on the corner of Lake and Bradley roads. The cliff just west of this property jutted out into the lake forming a bay which protected the shoreline from the northwest winds and waves. George built a year-round house on his new property east of Bradley on the north side of Lake Road. He also built four cottages and a pier below on the beach. Later, more cottages were added.
To the west of George’s house, his son, Guthery, and wife, Jean, built a year-round house. A path down to the beach was west of Guthery’s house. East of George’s house was a grassy field with garages for the cars of the people renting the cottages. I remember this well as a little girl in the 1940s, as I lived just west of Bradley Road. This was part of our playground.
George and Marguerite had moved into the 1830 Aldrich house on the south side of Lake Road across the street, and the Bott family was renting their house on the lake. Bott’s son, Ted, was in my grade at school. I remember George yelling at us when we got caught going down to the beach to play. We thought he was a grumpy old man. While some of the village cottages were remodeled into permanent homes, these cottages, on the beach, stayed the same and continued to be rented.
Sharon Marie O’Grady Pfaff writes about living above the cottages in the 1970s: “Three of the cottages were still standing in the late '70s when we lived above in a house on Lake Road. One of the cottages was on our property. A huge storm came along and took two cottages literally out to sea. We watched out the window as they crumbled. The cottage that is still standing is the second to the left (in the picture.) The two to the right are the ones that were destroyed, and we never saw the others. Also behind the cottages on the far right was a house/cabin that was built and was more substantial than the others. Today a contemporary house has been built on the spot just a few feet from the water. This is a great area as the beach has a bit of sand thanks to 2 piers that were constructed. Our kids spent entire summers on the beach with us making sand castles for their Barbies and roads for their Tonka trucks. I was told that is where they hauled grapes and produce to the beach to be loaded on barges. In the winter we packed the path with snow and hosed it down with water and would fly down the hill on truck inner tubes.”
In the 1940s, sandy beach ran from Bradley Road east along the shoreline. Of all the cottages scattered through the village, only a few remain today. Believe it or not, there is still one Drake cottage left down on the beach, and one Rummage cottage and one Osborn cottage remodeled into beautiful year-round homes.
I am the Historian for the Bay Village Historical Society, member and Past President, 1976. Lived in the village since 1936. I was part of a team that developed the Cahoon farmhouse into Rose Hill Museum in 1973. I participated by inventoring the Cahoon items and serving as the first Accessions Chairman and as a Docent at the museum for 20 years. I was part of the committee that brought the Osborn house to Cahoon Memorial Park in 1995 and turned it into a learning center. Along with my sister, Gay Menning, and the society, we wrote the 'Bay Way of Life' history book in 1974. When Ginny Peterson asked for my help, I offered my historical pictures and wote the captions for the Arcadia picture book, Bay Village, published in 2007.