Tag Archives: Chautauqua on Lake Erie

Lakeside, Ohio: 30 years of renewal

Lakeside OH, Hotel Lakeside

Lakeside’s waterfront.

By Bruce Stambaugh

Lakeside, Ohio. Those back-to-back names seem too ordinary, too mundane to be considered a desired vacation destination. For our family, though, like thousands of others, that’s exactly what Lakeside, Ohio means.

We have been traveling there every year at least once a year for three decades. To other Lakesiders, that’s chunk change. Families have been returning to the Chautauqua on Lake Erie for generations.

It’s no wonder. Founded in 1873 as a church retreat, Lakeside has become so much more than that. Indeed, its Methodist roots run deep into the thin soil atop the limestone bedrock of Marblehead Peninsula.

Given its founding, religion certainly is one of the four core tenants of the seasonal programming of this summertime magnet. Arts and entertainment, recreation, and education are the other pillars that have lured thousands back to Lakeside’s comforting grounds, cottages, eateries, and camaraderie year after year.

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Our family is one of those. My parents took my brothers, sisters, and me to Lakeside only on occasion. We lived many miles away, and with no expressways, it was a time-consuming trip, to say the least. I never forgot the happy memories we shared there. We picnicked under giant shade trees only yards away from the alluring Lake Erie.

But as we grew, left home, formed our own families, Lakeside was forgotten. Then came the summer of 1987. It was the most heart-wrenching three months of my life. From Memorial Day through Labor Day, one tragedy after the other unfolded. While serving on the local rescue squad, I faced first-hand the hurt and hardship, the pain and anguish of too many folks and their kin that I knew.

After the son of a close friend and colleague had been killed in an auto accident, I’d had enough. I desperately needed a reprieve before school began in late August. The peaceful memories of Lakeside flooded my brain.

My wife, son, daughter, and I spent an extended, restful, spiritually rewarding weekend lounging in the quietness, enjoying the scenery, the relaxed pace of Lakeside, mini-golf under those even bigger shade trees, and sunsets on the dock.

Besides being renewed and refreshed, we were hooked. A summer vacation at Lakeside became a standing reservation. The kids could ride their bicycles freely and safely in the gated community. Activities for all ages abound, even if it was just sitting on a park bench watching the boats sail by. A different program finished off each evening unless we made an ice cream stop on the way back to our quarters.

As the kids grew, our vacations expanded into a full week. When we became empty nesters, Neva and I found a bed and breakfast that we called home for several consecutive summers. Besides relishing the amenities of Lakeside, we made lifetime friends with the other guests.

Click on the photos to enlarge them.

Ironically, our friendship circles expanded exponentially when that B and B closed. We found a new summer home just down the street. We’ve been enjoying the sweeping front porch of Maxwell Hospitality House on the corner of Walnut and Third for years now.

To help celebrate retirement, this year we expanded our loving Lakeside to two weeks. We enjoyed friends, dominoes, entertainment, lectures, presentations, strolling, sunsets, and, yes, exchanging greetings with strangers, an unwritten Lakeside requirement. The second week, we added shuffleboard and children’s activities since our grandchildren, and their parents joined us.

There’s only one Lakeside, Ohio. It’s gratifying to know its goodness and kindness will continue to be appreciated by family members for years to come.

sunrise photography, Lakeside OH, pink and blue

Framed pink and blue.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2017

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No sad faces allowed

Lakeside OH dock by Bruce Stambaugh

Relaxing in the shade or sunning on the dock are just some of the favorite activities at Lakeside, Ohio.

By Bruce Stambaugh

I overheard a mother tell her pouting adolescent daughter, “There are no sad faces at Lakeside. It’s a rule.”

The mother’s demonstrative point was clear. There was too much fun to be had at Lakeside, Ohio for anyone of any age to be gloomy. It’s a main reason my wife and I return year after year for a week’s vacation.

Sailing at Lakeside, Ohio by Bruce Stambaugh

Sailing is popular with children and adults alike at Lakeside, Ohio.

Indeed, Lakeside offers plenty to do. Adults and children alike can choose from a sunup to sundown selection of activities in which to participate. They range from sailing lessons to garden walks and talks to wellness classes.

The fact that the resort town is built on the shores of Lake Erie helps expand the variety. Lakesiders can pick from activities in the categories of religion, education, arts and entertainment, recreation and planned events. It’s all part of the entrance fee.

Visitors can recline with a good book under one of the many towering hardwoods that line the rocky shore and multi-task. Waves crash the hard shore, boats sail by and elations echo from playgrounds, the dock, the beach and front porches.

Lakeside’s unadorned concrete dock is the focal point for daytime fun. Swimming, fishing, tanning, strolling all are legitimate forms of relaxing.

Lakeside OH cottage by Bruce Stambaugh

Many cottages and homes in Lakeside, Ohio feature inviting front porches.

Others prefer a leisurely walk along the tree-lined streets, enjoying the appealing cottages, many with inviting floral gardens. Some cottages date back to the town’s beginning in 1873. Most are seasonal family retreats that have served as a summer getaway for generations. A few hundred hardy souls call Lakeside home year-round.

Lakeside, Ohio flower garden by Bruce Stambaugh

Flower gardens enhance picturesque cottages throughout Lakeside, Ohio.

The old-growth hardwoods that predominate the parks and properties of Lakeside bring beauty, birds and relief from stifling summer days. Flower gardens, maintained by the help of many volunteers, are a trademark of Lakeside.

The bustling but small business district offers a break from the boredom of relaxation with an assortment of various shops. Candy, homemade donuts, ice cream, refreshing drinks and toys all offer refuge from the strain of having too much fun.

In the evening, variety shows running the gamut of entertainment usually draw a nice crowd. The magnetic dock also attracts toddlers, teens and seniors to watch the nightly disappearance of the sun behind Catawba Island.

Sunset at Lakeside, OH by Bruce Stambaugh

Enjoying a gorgeous sunset is a must for visitors and residents alike at Lakeside, Ohio.

As nice as all that is, the greatest asset of Lakeside is its friendly people. Lakeside is a family-centered, safe place to be.

Merchants routinely leave goods unsecured in front of their storefronts overnight with no theft of inventory. Pedestrians, bicyclists, skateboarders, golf carts and dogs walking their owners have the right of way over motorized vehicles.

The strictest parents casually set their children free to roam inside the gated community with no fear of harm whatsoever. Passersby walk up onto a porch, ask what game is being played, and are invited to join the fun.

Lakeside rightfully bills itself as the Chautauqua on Lake Erie. However, occasional discordant human interactions will naturally occur when 6,000 in-season visitors multiply the regular population tenfold. Still, two-way radios are the closest things to weapons that outfit the town’s entire security staff.

Lakeside youth by Bruce Stambaugh

Youth groups routinely walk the streets singing to summer guests at Lakeside, Ohio.

Youth groups roam the streets serenading local residents, not ransacking their homes. At an impromptu lemonade stand, a grandfather sings and plays a Gibson to attract customers.

Whether they arrive for a day or the summer, Lakesiders all come to relax and have fun. With all there is to do in the resort town, everybody gets their way.

Like the lady said, there are no sad faces in Lakeside. That is a valuable virtue for any town.

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Staying calm during a ghostly encounter

Hoover Auditorium, Lakeside, OH by Bruce Stambaugh

Hoover Auditorium, Lakeside, Ohio. This picture was taken July 3, 2010, the day I saw the ghost in the huge hall.

By Bruce Stambaugh

I wasn’t going to say anything about the ghost I saw last summer. But with the ghoulish season of Halloween upon us, and the details of the experience still fresh in my mind, I decided to share what I saw.

First and foremost, I am not a fervent believer in ghosts, especially the horror kind put forth each Halloween season. I have watched with skeptical interest the ghost hunter shows on television. Once I saw how excited they got after showing video of some supposedly spectral orb, I was more convinced than ever that such adventures bordered on silliness.

Nevertheless, I had occasionally wondered how I would respond if I had encountered a ghost first hand. Last July 3, I found out. I just sat there watching, calm and unafraid, taking in every detail.

I was hardly alone when the apparition appeared. More than 2,000 others were in their seats two-thirds of the way through a lively, if not loud, concert in Hoover Auditorium in Lakeside, Ohio.

During one of the songs, something caught my attention directly above the stage. I looked up, and I saw the bluish-white shape of a man walk across the catwalk that held the lighting and speaker systems for the performance hall.

I say “appearance of a man” because that is all I can logically conclude that it was. I watched as the man, dressed in period work clothes of the early 20th century, casually walked across the catwalk from stage left to stage right. He bent down as if to pick up something, and then simply disappeared. I glanced to the stage where the band continued to belt out its Celtic vibrations, looked back up, and saw only darkness.

I knew right then and there that it would have been impossible for a human being to actually walk across that purposed bridge. The crisscrossed steel structure had no stairs that led to it. In fact, the structure wasn’t designed for anyone to ever walk there. The horizontal frame was simply lowered by a system of ropes and pulleys.

Convinced of what I saw, the next day I headed to the Lakeside Historical Museum to see what I could discover about ghosts and the construction of Hoover Auditorium in 1928-1929. Neither the young museum curator nor the senior archivist blinked at my story. Neither did they laugh at me.

After an exhaustive search by the three of us, we had come up empty on both the report of previous ghosts in Hoover, and the report of any serious accidents or deaths during its construction. The one interesting fact I did discover from old blueprints was that the scaffolding that was used to erect the large meeting room was exactly the height of the structure that held the speakers and lighting.

Hotel Lakeside, Lakeside, Ohio by Bruce Stambaugh

The rear of Hotel Lakeside in Lakeside, Ohio. Guests have occasionally reported seeing ghosts there.

I also learned of reports of ghosts in the Hotel Lakeside and in the museum where I had begun my search. I appreciated the fact that both the curator and the archivist dived right in to help me find whatever facts we could.

Unfortunately, the facts were few, but the personal encounter was real. If anyone else in the audience saw anything, they never said so. It wasn’t like seeing the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future, and it certainly wasn’t the commercial and entertainment-driven ghoulishness currently being spewed out.

I know I saw this man in clunky work boots, old-style work pants, a thick leather belt, and old-fashioned work shirt and slicked back hair. I just don’t know why.

Decorated cottage at Lakeside, Ohio by Bruce Stambaugh

Peaceful, attractive cottages like this one abound in Lakeside, Ohio, making it an attractive, fun and safe vacation destination for families.

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Lakeside, Ohio: A relaxing place to be

Cottages at Lakeside, Ohio by Bruce Stambaugh

Cottages at Lakeside, Ohio.

By Bruce Stambaugh

Erik Beun of Berlin was typical of the many people from the Holmes County area who vacation at Lakeside, Ohio.

“It’s a relaxing place,” Beun said. Beun and his family were enjoying their sixth year at Lakeside. Beun also brought along his parents, Henry and Julie, for their first Lakeside experience.

Their family was emulating a scene seen thousands of times a year at Lakeside. They were tooling around the quaint village on bicycles. And why not? It’s an easy way to see Lakeside’s immaculate gardens, quaint old cottages, shady lakeside parks and amazing views of Lake Erie and its islands.

The Beun family by Bruce Stambaugh

Allison, Laura, Erik, Andrew, Henry and Julie Beun all enjoyed a bike ride around Lakeside.

Because Lakeside is a gated community during the summer months, it is a non-motorized vehicle friendly place. In fact, bicycles often go faster than cars. In part, that’s because once at Lakeside, the need for a car drops dramatically.

The place is so pretty, so quaint, so relaxing and the people so friendly there is no hurry to go anyplace. You are on vacation. Sit back, relax and enjoy. Many from the Holmes County area have done just that over the years.

Kent Miller of Millersburg started going to Lakeside with his parents when he was 10-years old. That was 1982. Now his son, Kyle, is 10, and has the same sort of fun that his father did.

Miller said the family likes Lakeside because it is “a safe haven for young families to go and relax for a week.” He said they particularly enjoy the amenities of doughnuts from The Patio Restaurant, and letting the kids shop at Marilyn’s, a store with an eclectic mix of clothing, candy and Lakeside souvenirs.

Shasta Mast, executive director of the Holmes County Chamber of Commerce, and her family have retreated to Lakeside for 15 years. She said the most difficult decisions she has to make while at Lakeside are what book to read and when to get ice cream.

Beach and dock at Lakeside, Ohio by Bruce Stambaugh

The small beach and Lakeside's extended dock entice swimmers and sun worshippers of all ages.

Like many other Lakesiders, Mast likes to read her book while sunning on Lakeside’s popular dock that juts out into Lake Erie. Others swim, with lifeguards provided during certain hours. Still others fish from the dock, while some simply choose to sit and watch the variety of boats sail or speed by. In the evening, the dock is crowded with sunset watchers with cameras at the ready.

Of course, the front porch is just as good for reading as the dock. It could be the house rented for the week, a bed and breakfast or the sweeping, screened porch of the historic Hotel Lakeside. They all provide peace, shade and plenty of congenial company.

fountain by Bruce Stambaugh

The fountain in front of Hotel Lakeside.

After all, Lakeside is the Chautauqua on Lake Erie, nurturing the body, mind and soul. That is what the Lakeside Association both promotes and provides for its visitors. Educational workshops, seminars, evening entertainment and worship can all be part of the Lakeside experience for children to adults.

Tennis, shuffleboard, miniature golf, running, walking and Frisbee are also available if exercise and competition are your game. There are businesses to spend your money if you want, and by the lines, a lot do. Specialty drinks, ice cream, homemade doughnuts, and Lakeside-specific clothing are all available.

Then, again, you can just adopt Erik Beun’s attitude and simply relax. That’s the Lakeside way.

Maxwell Hospitality House by Bruce Stambaugh

Maxwell Hospitality House, Lakeside, Ohio.

This article initially appeared in The Holmes County Journal, July 29, 2010.

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Retreating to Lakeside again and again

Lakeside view by Bruce Stambaugh

The view of the dock and Lake Erie from Hotel Lakeside's front lawn. Kelley's Island is in the distance.

By Bruce Stambaugh

There are lots of places I would love to visit in the world. But every Fourth of July, you can find me with my wife at Lakeside, Ohio.

Fountain in front of Hotel Lakeside by Bruce Stambaugh

Wind blew the fountain's water in front of Hotel Lakeside.

Why do we keep going back? I’ll be a typical man and answer that question with another question. How can we not return?

We find the summer resort a respite from our busy schedule. A random survey of Lakesiders would likely reflect that common answer.

You could argue that respite can be found in plenty of other locales, too. But there is only one Lakeside, and the best way to appreciate it is to visit there.

The quaint town on the shores of Lake Erie mushrooms from 600 year-round residents to 3,000 summer vacationers. Gate fees are required from mid-June through Labor Day weekend.

I could list 100 reasons why we savor Lakeside each summer. But I’ll pare it down to a pertinent few pleasures we experienced during our latest stay.

Friends gather on the porch by Bruce Stambaugh

The porch at Maxwell's Hospitality House in Lakeside, Ohio is an inviting, relaxing place.

First and foremost has to be the renewal of relationships with friends, some who we only see at Lakeside. Of course, we stay in touch via email or phone. But we only see most fellow Lakesiders while we are actually at the Chautauqua on Lake Erie

We enjoy where we stay, and we always board at the same hospitality house. We like our hosts and their guests, most of who return the same week annually. We have a lot in common, share food, stories and values.

The Patio Restaurant at Lakeside OH by Bruce Stambaugh

The signs said it all.

We cherish the familiarity and ambiance that Lakeside affords. Doughnuts at The Patio Restaurant, ice cream from Coffee and Cream and pizza from Sloopy’s are all part of the Lakeside experience if we so choose

But we value the special surprises that always seem to plop in our laps. We run into friends from home or people we know that we had no idea even knew about Lakeside. It’s always fun to reconnect and discover how each found the resort town.

P.A. Dunfee of Lakeside, Ohio piloted his 1968 restored Lyman. by Bruce Stambaugh

P.A. Dunfee, Lakeside, Ohio, piloted his restored 1968 Lyman boat.

This year we had an extra special treat. A resident of Lakeside that we got to know through our hosts at Maxwell’s Hospitality House invited my wife and I for a ride on his restored 1968 Lyman inboard motorboat.

With the temperatures and humidity at the wilting stage, we leaped at the opportunity. The wooden boat, originally built in nearby Sandusky, glided through the slightly wavy water with ease. We cruised past Lakeside just beyond the dock.

Lakeside cottages by Bruce Stambaugh

Steamboat style cottages, typical of some of the older homes in Lakeside, Ohio, were decorated for the Fourth of July.

During out week’s stay, we also took in some of the evening entertainment that comes with the price of admission. Workshops, museums, tours and worship are also available for children through adults

Running at Lakeside by Bruce Stambaugh

The path along Lake Erie in Lakeside, Ohio is a popular place for exercise or just strolling.

Each morning I stretched my legs by walking the two-mile parameter of the lovely village. Walkers, runners, bikers and dog-walkers alike bid each other a friendly Lakeside hello or a nod

Besides the exercise and human interaction, I got to absorb beautiful gardens, charming restored cottages from Lakeside’s beginning in 1873, watch night hawks glide, stroll along where old trolley tracks once ran and glimpse tennis matches on both asphalt and clay courts.

Round porch at Lakeside, Ohio by Bruce Stambaugh

Inviting round porches can be found attached to many homes in Lakeside, Ohio.

I enjoyed a personal Lakeside moment, too. I found a lakeside bench under the generous shade from the large stand of old growth trees and watched the ferries shuttle between Marblehead and Kelley’s Island.

In that Norman Rockwell setting, time seemed to simply stand still. That alone is reason enough to treasure our annual Lakeside vacation.

Concert in the park by Bruce Stambaugh

Concerts in the park are always popular at Lakeside, Ohio.

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