A train picking up blocks of ice from Clear Lake appears in the background of this family photo, along with the Lakeshore Hotel.
The Lakeshore Hotel, across from the Lake on North Lakeview Drive,
was a summer resort hotel and local landmark for 90 years.
The Lake Shore Hotel and Dining Room was run by Rose Bawden, Bob Ingersoll and Don Goranson at the time of this 1957 postcard.
Demolition of the Lakeshore Hotel, a 90 year old structure, was completed in 1966 by Beck Excavating Co. As final demolition took place, the south wing was pulled over and bulldozers quickly crushed the wood into kindling sized pieces.
Some of the information on this page was gathered from the 'Clear Lake, Iowa 1851-2006' Red Book, available at the Chamber of Commerce.
Owners PO Petersen, Charles Elder and Don Marshall planned to construct a 30 unit apartment house on the site.
"Jim Hill, Cal Branson and Charlie Crane are pictured in front of the Lakeshore Hotel in this 1938 photo. Charles Crane Sr and George Prince bought the hotel in the mid-teens and Branson ran the operation for them.
In an article from the Clear Lake Mirror and Reporter under the 'Remember When' section, 75 years ago (May 1932)........
"The interior of the Lake Shore Hotel has been thoroughly renovated, cleaned, painted and re-decorated. The lawn has been sodded, shrubs and flowers planted. The dock was placed in the lake and everything is in readiness for the summer guests."
Lakeshore Hotel E-Boat which took
tourists for sails in the 1950s
A fabulous aerial shot and a lake front picture submitted by
Sally Slocum (CLHS 1957)
These three small pictures
were provided by
From CL Centennial paper 1951:
Pictured is the Whitaker Pier, situated over the lake in front of the Lake Shore Hotel (also owned by Isaac Whitaker). Dimensions were 120' x 132' (144 square counting the promenade decks around the perimeter). Contained within were a dance floor, toboggan slides, a shooting gallery and a theatre seating 1750 people. Primarily, this was a hotel featuring 100 rooms.
This pavilion was constructed c.1899 and stood only a short time before being structurally compromised and ultimately destroyed by high water and ice in 1904 or 1905.
(Other sources suggest a later date). Info from Lyndon Crist. CLHS 1962
Bob Moninger (1956)
9 June, 2009
Henry Halvorson and Crane owned the property until 1919 when Branson bought it. He sold it to L.M. Bawden in 1938 and she, in turn, sold the hotel to Robert Ingersoll and Donald Goranson in 1959. In 1964 Jerry Millard bought it for one year, followed by Pete Petersen, Charles Elder and Don Marshall. The Lakeshore Drive Hotel served guests for 90 years, until it was razed."
(Page 48 of the book 'Clear Lake, Iowa 1851-2006')
Thanks to Bob Moninger
for this picture.
We lived next door to the owner of the hotel and they had just adopted a little boy and wanted to sell so they talked us into taking it over. Of course we had our hands full too as we had a two yr. old boy, a preschooler & Jerry was selling Fords. But like everything we do we jumped in head over heels, started painting the lobby to brighten it up. Of course, that was a no-no as it should remain just as it always was. A interior decorator had stayed in a different room on the first floor each year and had redone it. So those rooms were unusual and interesting. The huge check-in desk was ornate and hand carved, I think it is in a hotel someplace to this day. We had our regulars who rode the train up from Des Moines and stayed the whole summer.
The Yacht Club asked us if we could have a dinner for them as our first thing as we opened up. Being as green as I was, I said sure that would be great & asked them what they wanted for a menu. All was fine until I came to rhubarb pie, & I ended up making all of those. Then to drum up more business, we started a chicken dinner at a low price once a week and it was such a hit that we filled the 150 seat dining room twice. The cooks were wonderful!! They served three meals a day seven days a week . It was really a great experience for us, as we learned to step up to any kind of job. The second year we had another son and he entertained from the playpen on the front porch. Up on the second floor there was a small patio on the porch roof for one suite. Our oldest son wandered out of my sight and appeared on the roof, giving us heart failure. Thank goodness, we had many eyes to help us, and the roof wasn't very steep. A talented son of one of our regulars visited for a month every summer and he held sing-a-longs with popcorn on Sat. evening. We held some style shows to spice up the afternoons. Also we bought an older pontoon and painted it with the hotel name and gave free rides, so that was popular. But with all our gungho, the weather didn't cooperate and with the change of times and high taxes, everyone decided it was time to use that land for something more profitable. The hotel wasn't very safe and was a fire waiting to happen, so the era passed. We are glad we had just a little piece of that time.
Jerry Millard CLHS 1956
My Lake Shore Hotel memories after waiting tables there for 2 summers - 1959 and 1960.
Written by Barb Moninger May (CLHS 1959)
Sis McComb was the hostess during the first summer I worked there and a fraternity housemother at Iowa State during the rest of the year. She knit socks for all the fraternity officers while she sat at the hostess desk. She also played the piano for the sing along's that were held in the lobby.
Mrs. Kimball was the cook the first summer was there. I learned to love blueberry pancakes from her! One of her specialities was Eggnog Pie and one gentleman customer loved this, so we always had to reserve one piece for Mr. Kneisel (sp).
The waitresses lived upstairs above the kitchen. The bedrooms were tiny. Kathryn Hintz was my roommate. There was a common room where we could sit and there was a sink against the outside wall also. One of the waitresses was Marty Bottorff who was a UNI student and another was Scottie who was an Iowa U student from Kennebunkport, Maine. They taught the rest of us how to play bridge. There was a back stairway out of the common room down to the kitchen and to the outdoor shower. We were paid $45 a month plus room and board and tips.
The dining room was only open certain hours. Something like 7:30 - 9:30 for breakfast, noon to 2 for lunch and then 5-8 for dinner. We had to sweep the floor between meals. The bellboy occasionally scattered pennies on the floor and the floor wasn't clean until we'd retrieved all of them.
One of the summer residents, Peg, came from Florida for the summer. Many of the people came from Des Moines. One such woman, Patia, liked to order iced coffee and then pour a small container of cream into the glass. She watched it makes its "volcano" and then pushed the glass aside and never drank it.
A Des Moines interior decorator, Glenn something, came every summer to redo a first floor room. He had a Mercedes Benz coupe that someone drove him to the lake in and then someone drove him back to Des Moines when he wanted to go. When I had a weekend off, I drove him back so I could have a weekend with my folks who had moved to Des Moines the day I graduated. I remember driving through Jewell, Iowa and looking down at the speedometer. I was going 90 mph and it felt like we were standing still. Scary! (No ticket.)
The third floor rooms all had ropes coiled on the floor in case of fire. Luckily, that didn't happen. The bathtub was on the 2nd floor. The wrap around porch had rocking chairs for people to enjoy the lake view. The front desk was a beautiful piece.
The second summer is when the lake was closed because of a vegetation problem and we were sent home the middle of July. No tourists, no jobs.
Dick Smith and I talked about Lake Shore days at our reunion last September. He was the dishwasher and I'm sure he can add other stories.
Barb Moninger May CLHS 1959
"What I remember most about the hotel was the whist tournaments which were a big deal. (It is a very old card came somewhat like canasta (if anyone remembers even that!)".
Don Stebbins CLHS 1959
According to the Clear Lake Mirror-Reporter (May 27,2009) in the 'Remember When' section...
"70 years ago, May 1939. Lee M. Bawden has purchased the Lake Shore Hotel from Mr. and Mrs. D. Cal Branson, taking possession May 23. The Bransons went into the hotel in 1917, just 22 years ago, first operating it on a commission basis for George Prince and C.F. Crane, owners."
Again in the 'Remember When' section of the Clear Lake Mirror and Reporter (3 June, 2009) there was an interesting article under the heading of "50 Years Ago- June 1959" about the Lake Shore Hotel. I quote "Sale of the Lakeshore Hotel, a landmark on the north shore of Clear Lake for over 80 years, was announced. Purchases are two Clear Lake couples, Mr and Mrs Donald Goranson and Mr. and Mrs. Robert Ingersoll. Mrs. Bawden will continue to manage the hotel for three years. The hotel, a huge white wooden structure with 58 rooms, was built in 1876. It was known as The Whitaker Hotel from 1886 and its popularity gained with the erection of a pavilion on stilts over the water for use as an amusement center."