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Lake Maxinkuckee's East Shore Drive Historic District

The writing below, composed by the Antiquarian and Historical Society of Culver, describes the East Shore Drive Historic District that was placed -- via the efforts of the Antiquarian Society -- on the National Register of Historic Places in the 1990s. The Society members researched the specific cottages and properties on the East Shore for the National Register's information, and the results of that research give a wonderful picture of the historic relevance of the properties and homes in that area of Lake Maxinkuckee. Click below to navigate the article.

Overview                             Architecture                        Recreation                  Sources

The East Shore Historic District

Overview

The proposed historic district is located on the east shore of Lake Maxinkuckee, Indiana’s second largest inland lake. The lake encompasses nearly 1,860 acres in the southern part of Union Township in Marshall County. The town of Culver (known as Marmont before 1897) is located on the northwest side of the lake. Culver Military Academy, founded in 1894, is located on the northeast side. There are resort cottages around three sides of the lake, historically known as the East Shore, the South Shore, and the West Shore.  For the purpose of the Resource Count, there are a total of 115 contributing buildings, 16 noncontributing buildings, one contributing structure and three contributing sites. The contributing buildings consist of 100 houses and cottages and 15 garages and other outbuildings of a distinctive type. Fifteen of the noncontributing buildings are houses and cottages. The other is the country club building. Most of the non contributing buildings, including the latter, were built after the period of significance. A few historic cottages have been counted as noncontributing because of extensive alterations. The contributing structure is the gazebo on the golf course property. The three contributing sites are the golf course, tennis courts, and Rice Woods.

State Road 117 is the north-south route which runs along the East Shore, where it is known as East Shore Drive. Near the south end of the East Shore, the road forks; State Road 117 veers off to the southeast, and the road continuing along the lake shore is known East Shore Lane, a private lane. Most historic cottages are located between the lake shore and the road, a distance which varies from roughly 200 to 400 feet.  The land between East Shore Lane and State Road 117 is included in the boundaries.  Here, there are several historic cottages, as well as an historic landscape. Rice Woods, a property of approximately seven acres at the intersection of East Shore Lane and State Road 117. Maple Trees, planted by the East Shore Lane Association in the 1930s, line the east side of East Shore Drive in Rice Woods (photo 8). The remainder of the woods has been allowed to grow naturally and has a variety of native pines, deciduous trees, and other vegetation.

The East Shore Lane area was originally part of two farms. The south section was part of the Edwards Farm; the north section was part of the Van Schoiack Farm. South of the Edwards Farm was the Norris Farm. The Norris Farmhouse, also known historically as the Maple Grove Hotel, is located on the south side of State Road 117 at the point where it turns at a 90 degree angle to the east. Approximately 1,000 feet north of this angle is the intersection of State Road 117 and Edwards Lane, an east-west roadway. 

Other than the East Shore Lane area, the only properties east of the lake road which have been included in the nomination are the Maxinkuckee Country Club between Aubbeenaubee Creek and Maxinkuckee Road (18 B Road); and a few houses on the east side of East Shore Drive, north of Maxinkuckee Road, and on the south side of Maxinkuckee Road. The Allegheny House, an early hotel, is one of these properties (photo 24). There are a few scattered houses on the east side of East Shore Drive which have not been included in the district boundaries. For the most part, these have been excluded because they were constructed after the period of significance.

In the East Shore Lane area, the lake front is at the level of the lake. Low sea walls of concrete and/or stone are built along this section (photo 2). A few houses north of the Lane area, the elevation of the lakefront rises slightly and steps are necessary to access the lake (photos 9, 10, 12). These are variously constructed of stone, concrete, or wood.  North of this elevated area, starting a few cottages north of Aubbeenaubee Creek and extending to Maxinkuckee Landing, is a subdivision platted in the 1890s called Sea Beach Place. This was also part of the Van Schoiack Farm. This area has deep front lawns which end in sandy beaches at the level of the lake (photo 26). A few cottages north of Maxinkuckee Road, the lake front begins a continuous rise in elevation to the north boundary of the historic district, the highest point on the lake. In this area, cottages are situated on a high bluff overlooking the lake, and steep steps extend down to the water.  The Perry House at 894 East Shore Drive overlooks Lake Maxinkuckee at one of the highest places on the lake (photo 29).

The principal group of resources in the East Shore Historic District are resort cottages which were built in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. These extend along the East Shore of Lake Maxinkuckee from a point near the south end of the lake to a point near the north end. The southernmost property included in the district boundaries is “Woodbank” (the Wood Cottage), located at 2738 East Shore Drive (listed individually on the National Register of Historic Places). The northernmost property, at 742 East Shore Drive, was historically the summer cottage of George Vonnegut (photo 34).  Almost without exception, the cottages face the lake, to the west. Representative cottages are described below.

The Trone Cottage at 2324 East Shore Lane was only a few years old when it was purchased in 1923 by Donaldson G. Trone (photo 5). The cottage is a one-and-a-half story, Bungalow style dwelling with a side gable roof and clapboard siding. There is a shed roof dormer on the front. Windows are double hung with multi-light, wood sash. A front porch which extends the width of the main facade has been enclosed.

A few houses south, at 2450 East Shore Lane, is the Irwin-Shafer-Wilkinson Cottage. This house, built in 1908, is a two-story, American four-square style house.  The first floor is faced in cobblestones and the second floor in wood clapboards. The roof is hipped. A wide front porch with a cobblestone base has been enclosed. Windows on the first story are double hung, wood. Second story windows are vinyl casement replacements.

The H.H. Rice Cottage is located near the north end of East Shore Lane, at 2296. One of the early houses on the Lane, it was built around 1905. It is a two-story, wood-frame, double pile house with a side gable roof. There is a cross-gable over the center of the main facade. The original clapboards have been covered with vinyl. The wood front porch on the front of the house has been enclosed. Windows are double-hung wood with multi-light upper sash, or casement.

The Roach-Rockwood Cottage is located at 2100 East Shore Drive. Built c. 923, it is an outstanding example of Colonial Revival architecture. The house is a two-story, wood-frame structure with a hipped roof and clapboard siding. There is a central section which is three bays wide, with the entry in the center bay. This consists of a columned pediment surrounding a door with sidelights. On either side of the door are large, paired window openings. The sash has been replaced. On the second story are original, double hung, wood windows with multi-light upper sash. The central part of the house has receding wings to the north and south. In front of these wings and projecting from the main part of the house are, on the north, a sun room, and, on the south, an enclosed porch.

One of the early cottages (c. 1875) is the Elliott Cottage at 2014 East Shore Lane (photo 10). This is a two-and-a-half story, wood frame cottage with clapboard siding. Windows are wood with double hung sash. Originally a small, gable-front dwelling, it has been enlarged over the years with side and rear additions.

Dating from the same era, the cottage at 1910 East Shore was originally a small fishing cottage. Its original gable-front form can be discerned, although additions have been built, the front porch enclosed, siding added, and windows replaced.  The Gates-Holliday Cottage, built in 1897 and located at 1570 East Shore Drive, is a more typical example of an East Shore cottage (right in photo 19) in size, character, and integrity. It was constructed at a time when a great deal of development was taking place.  Turn-of-the-century cottages such as this one were larger than the early fishing cottages.

The Gates-Holliday Cottage is a one-and-a-half story, wood frame structure with wood shingle siding. Windows are wood and are both casement and double hung sash. A screened porch extends the width of the main facade. Upstairs sleeping rooms are achieved with large, gable-roofed dormers.

One of the outstanding properties along the lake shore is “Portledge,” located at 1480 East Shore Drive, originally the summer home of the Charles and Mary Coffin family. The Coffin Cottage, built in 1905, is a two-and-a-half story, wood-frame, composite house. The house resembles a cube, with various extensions and additions to the sides and rear. The roof is hipped, with triangular dormers on the sides. A one-story, screened-in porch extends across the main facade and around the south side. Siding is clapboard. Windows are single and paired, and are wood with double-hung sash.  Atypical along the East Shore because of its elaborate design is the Shirk-Robinson Cottage located at 1322 East Shore Drive, which was built about 1900 (photo 25). One of the largest houses on the lake. it was designed in the Swiss Chalet style, a subtype of the popular Craftsman style of the early twentieth century. This is a two-and-a-half story, wood-frame house with a low-pitched gable roof. The original clapboards have been covered with vinyl siding, but distinctive scroll-sawn detailing remains exposed. Windows are grouped, double-hung wood, with multi-light upper sash. French doors open onto a wide porch which overlooks the lake.

One of the oldest resort properties is the Marmon Cottage, located at 1100 East Shore Drive. The original part of the house was present on the property when Daniel and Elizabeth Marmon acquired it in 1882. It was gradually enlarged and now has the character of a c. 1910 Craftsman style house. It is a two-story structure with a T-shaped plan The roof is hipped. The second story slightly overhangs the first in a garrison fashion Siding is wood shingles. Windows are grouped, wood, with double hung sash.  Historic louvered shutters are intact. Doors are paneled wood or wood and glass. Other buildings on the wooded property include two sheds, which date from around the turn-of-the century (photo 28). These are one-story, wood frame buildings with gable roofs, clapboard and shingle siding, and wood, double hung windows.

One of the grandest of the cottages of Lake Maxinkuckee is the Noman Perry House at 894 East Shore Drive. This is an elaborate Spanish Colonial Revival style house which occupies a large property in the north part of the historic district. The house is two-and-a-half stories high, has stucco walls, and a pantile roof. Arched window openings on the first floor suggest an arcade. Upper story windows are in tall, rectangular openings. Windows themselves are wood casement. Other elements include iron balconets and tiled walkways.

The northernmost house in the historic district is the George Vonnegut Cottage at 74  East Shore Drive. The Vonnegut cottage is a two-story, Craftsman Style  house. The main part of the house, which faces south, is a hipped-roofed cube. There is a gable-roofed extension to the east. Walls are stucco. The main entry is in the center of

the cube section. It contains a paneled wood and glass door and has a shed roofed “hood” above. Flanking the entry are double-hung, wood windows with one light in each sash.  Above the entry is a narrow window. On each side are shed-roofed, wall dormer windows. These have wood, double-hung sash. A one-story frame addition of recent vintage has been added to the southeast side of the house.

For more information on cottage architecture, please see “Architecture,” under Section 8, “Statement of Significance.”

At the rear of most properties are outbuildings. Generally these are garages. Some properties have combination guest cottages/garages, sheds, or other small buildings.  Examples of historic outbuildings include a cobblestone guest cottage/garage associated with the Irwin-Shafer-Wilkinson Cottage at 2450 East Shore Lane (photo 4); a wood-frame garage associated with the Glossbrenner Cottage at 1650 East Shore Drive (photo 18); and wood-frame garages at 1412, 1424, 1450, 1470, and 1910 East Shore Drive.  Other outbuildings, found on the lake side of properties, include lookouts and boathouses, or combination lookout/boathouses. An example of this last type may be seen in photo 14.Other elements of East Shore properties include stone walls, steps, and walkways.  Cobblestone structures are highly visible. Examples can be seen in photos 10 16, 18, 23, and 26. Stone steps are common on high properties, such as those pictured in photos 9, 12, and 17.Also prevalent are large, deciduous trees, some of which predate the resort era. Among examples are the two large oak trees on the Mueller property visible in photo 31. These trees appear in an 1888 photo of the Vonnegut fishing shack which was located here prior to the Mueller Cottage. Most of the properties on the East Shore were developed prior to World War II. There are, however, a small number of intrusions, houses which were built in the post-war era.  Examples of these are the house shown at 2008 East Shore Drive, shown at left in photo 10; and 1120, 1206, and 1242 East Shore Drive. This later concentration of newer houses was the result of the sale of vacant property associated with houses.

The East Shore Historic District is significant in the areas of Architecture and Recreation for the period 1873 to 1945.

Architecture

The district is an intact collection of cottages and other resources which represent a popular Northern Indiana lake resort of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The district is being nominated under the historic context,  Development of the Culver-Lake Maxinkuckee Resort Community, 1873-1945, defined in the Multiple Property Listing, “Historic Resources of the Culver-Lake Maxinkuckee  Area.” History. The first village in the area was Maxinkuckee, located a half mile east of the lake thin of present-day Queen Road and 18 B Road. Settlement here began in the 1830s.In its heyday, Maxinkuckee had stores, a blacksmith shop, a church, a school, a livery stable, a brickyard and pottery, and two saw mills. Many early travelers to the lake stayed at an inn in Maxinkuckee known as the Allegheny House (photo 24). According to Daniel McDonald, an early historian of the Lake Maxinkuckee area, the first tourists at Lake Maxinkuckee came in the 1860s from Indianapolis. Most of the visitors at this time were sports fisherman. Several farms bordered the East Shore before the land began to be divided for clubhouses   (private hotels) and cottages in the 1870s. Among these were the Peeples farm near the north end of the East Shore, and the Van Schoiack farm and the Edwards farm near the south end. The Norris family, who had been among the early settlers near the village of Maxinkuckee, acquired a farm at the south end of the lake in the 1880s.

Many of the early farms are represented through extant resources or place names. The farmhouse once occupied by Samuel Peeples and his family is gone, but their name is remembered through “People’s Point,” a projection where the Perry House is located, at 894 East Shore Drive. The Van Schoiack Farmhouse is incorporated in the present Miller cottage at 2044 East Shore Drive. Part of the Van Schoiack farm was subdivided as “Sea Beach Place” around 1900.

A house that was owned by the Edwards family was the nucleus for the present Bremner cottage at 2536 East Shore Lane. Originally a short distance from the lake, it was later moved to the lakefront and expanded. The Edwards farm is also remembered by a lane on the property which led to the lake, still known as “Edwards Lane.” The south part of the East Shore Lane neighborhood, developed in the early twentieth century, was originally part of the Edwards farm.

The southernmost farm on the East Shore was the Norris farm. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, the Norris family boarded visitors in their house, which was known as the Maple Grove Hotel. This building is extant at the south end of the East Shore on SR 117. After the railroad arrived in Marmont in 1883, travelers took a steamboat from the depot pier at the north end of the lake to the Norris Pier at the southeast corner of the lake to reach the hotel.

In the 1870s and 80s, groups of people from several Indiana cities built “clubhouses,” or private hotels on Lake Maxinkuckee. Many of these were located on the East Shore. The first clubhouse was built in 1873 for a group from Plymouth. This building was located on the site of the McOuat cottage, an early cottage which was located at 2008 East Shore Drive. A group from Peru built a clubhouse at People’s Point around 1878.  Several groups from Indianapolis located on the East Shore. The Bay View Club was established in 1885. The group built a clubhouse on the East Shore on the site of the present Perkins Cottage at 964 East Shore Drive. After the club disbanded a few years later, the clubhouse was sold and became the Bay View Hotel. Others from Indianapolis founded the Hilarity Club, whose clubhouse was located north of People’s Point. The Indianapolis Club was located on the site of the present Henderson House, at 2250 East Shore Drive.

By about 1900, the clubs had been abandoned in favor of single-family cottages, which had started to be built in the 1880s after the arrival of the Vandalia Railroad in Marmont.  One early group of cottages occupies a high bluff near the north end of the East Shore, which started as a fishing camp for a group of Indianapolis sportsmen. An 1888 photograph shows the group’s fishing shack on the site of what would later be the J.  George Mueller Cottage (844 East Shore Drive, built 1907). In the 1880s and 90s, this, the highest spot on the East Shore, was known as Hilarity Hill.

Within a few years, several cottages would be built in this area by the Vonnegut and Schnull families, who were related by marriage. Mueller was married to Julia Schnull.  Her sister, Emma occupied the cottage to the north (814 East Shore Drive, built c.1890) with husband Clemens Vonnegut, Jr. Clemens’ brother Bernard and another Schnull sister, Nannie, summered at 782 East Shore Drive (c.1900). Two other Vonnegut brothers. Franklin and George, owned the cottages at 762 and 742 East Shore Drive, built in 1881 andc.1905.

The Vonneguts, Schnulls, and Muellers were prominent German-American families in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Franklin, George and Clemens, Jr. were involved in the family business, Vonnegut Hardware Company, which had been founded by their father, Clemens Vonnegut, Sr., and was the leading hardware store in Indianapolis for many years. The remaining Vonnegut brother, Bernard, did not enter the family Schnull-Rauch House (1904) at 3050 N. Meridian Street in Indianapolis. Mueller was the owner of a large wholesale drug company in Indianapolis.  The three families were active in many social and charitable organizations in Indianapolis, and carried this sense of community with them to Lake Maxinkuckee. For example, they were members of the Maxinkuckee Lake Association (now the Lake Maxinkuckee Association), founded in 1897, to protect the interests of property owners around the lake, and to promote “fish culture and protection, sanitary regulation, and local improvements in roads, trees, walks and piers.” Franklin Vonnegut was the first secretary of the organization. Mueller was treasurer from 1900-1901. Some of the extended family, along with other Indianapolis residents, were also members of a group called the Literary Club, which met each June at the lake.

Another Indianapolis family who began summering at the lake at an early date were the Marmons. Daniel Marmon was an owner of Nordyke and Marmon, manufacturers of milling machinery. He and his wife Elizabeth purchased their property, which contained a small cottage, in 1882. Over the next few years, the cottage was expanded and outbuildings constructed (1100 East Shore Drive). Daniel died in 1909, but Elizabeth continued to spend several months each year at the lake cottage until her death in 1940. She was a quiet philanthropist. Among her interests were preservation of the natural environment at the lake, and the Culver library. Marmon sons Howard and Walter developed the Marmon automobile, best known, perhaps, as the winning car in the first Indianapolis 500 Mile Race (1911). The Marmon property at Lake Maxinkuckee, known as “Orchard Cottage” remains in the family to this day.  At the south end of the East Shore is “Woodbank,” the cottage of the Jacob Wood family (2738 East Shore Drive). Wood was a fire insurance investigator from Indianapolis. He first came to the Lake Maxinkuckee area on business and was so enamored that he bought some property from a local farmer and built a simple cottage in 1894. Within a short time, a guest cottage, laundry, and other outbuildings were added. The original grape arbor, which connects to the cottage, is extant. This property, now owned by a granddaughter-in-law of the Woods, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. 

In the 1890s, a part of the Van Schoiack farm was developed as Sea Beach Place, which extended roughly from Aubbeenaubee Creek to Maxinkuckee Road. Characteristic of this addition are deep front lawns at the level of the lake. There is along this stretch of the lake a cohesive group of houses with a fairly high degree of integrity. Among these are the Gates-Holliday Cottage at 1570 East Shore Drive, built in 1897; the Hord Cottage at 1556 East Shore Drive, built in 1901; the Coffin Cottage (“Portledge”) at 1480 East Shore Drive, built in 1905; and the Barnaby Cottage at 1444 East Shore Drive, built c. 1900 (photo 21). Because of the deep, connecting lawns at this point on the East Shore, many long-time, annual events have taken place here, including Fourth of July celebrations and yacht club programs.

Charles Coffin was an Indianapolis businessman. He was involved in several banks and trust companies, a director of a number of other companies, and an owner of an interurban line. In addition, he was a member of the Indianapolis Board of Park Commissioners for 25 years, held membership in several clubs, and was involved in many community and trade organizations. At Lake Maxinkuckee, he was active in the Maxinkuckee Lake Association, and, about 1906, started the golf club across the road from his cottage. The photograph albums and scrapbooks he kept record the recreational and social life of the East Shore in the early twentieth century. Charles Coffin’s grandson, C. Harvey Bradley, owns Portledge today.

Three houses to the south of Portledge is the Hord Cottage, which was built for Eleanor Young Hord, widow of prominent Terre Haute attorney Francis T. Hord, in 1901. Five generations of the family have shared the cottage.

The cottage to the south of the Hords has historically been known as the Elizabeth Gates Cottage. Mrs. Gates and her husband A.B. Gates were summer visitors at the lake in late nineteenth century. The cottage was built in 1897. Mr. Gates died around the turn-of-the-century. The cottage was sold soon after to John and Florence Holliday, whose descendants continue to occupy it today. John Holliday was an Indianapolis businessman.  Mrs. Holliday, active in several clubs and philanthropic activities, was a daughter of Conrad Baker, Indiana governor during the post-Civil War period.

The cottage at 1444 East Shore Drive was built for the family of Charles Barnaby, the owner of a lumber mill in Greencastle. In addition to being involved in several other businesses, Barnaby was a trustee of DePauw University, and active in a number of clubs and trade organizations.

Contemporary with the Sea Beach Place cottages was the Milton Shirk House at 1322 East Shore Drive, built in 1900 (photo 25). Shirk, a Peru banker, was a charter member of the Peru Club and was active in the Maxinkuckee Lake Association. He built the house soon after the club was disbanded.

Near the south end of the East Shore, a number of houses began to be constructed about 1900 as lots were sold from the Edwards and Van Schoiack farms. Prior to this time the only summer cottage on this section of the East Shore was Woodbank. Eventually this area would become almost a community in itself known as East Shore Lane. Among early cottages here were the one at 2276 East Shore Lane (c. 1905), owned by the Dressers of Terre Haute; the Rice Cottage at 2296 East Shore Lane (c. 1905); the Johnson Cottage at 2306 East Shore Lane; the Irwin-Shafer-Wilkinson Cottage at 2450 East Shore Lane; and the Heywood Cottage at 2710 East Shore Lane (c.1910).

H H. Rice was vice-president of General Motors. Wilbur Johnson was a manufacturer of electric automobiles. Charles Wilkinson, who owned the property at 2450 East Shore Lane from 1938 to 1945, was a Logansport businessman.

East Shore Lane was little more than a dirt path prior to the organization of the East Shore Lane Association in 1928. The Association was started by H.H. Rice in an effort to have better access to properties south of the point where East Shore Lane turned to the southeast (opposite what is now 2250 East Shore Drive). The Association Paved and ditched the road and made other improvements to benefit property owners. Rice Woods, a property of seven acres on the east side of the lane, was part of the Louden Farm when the Lane Association was founded. Rice purchased the property to establish a buffer between lake houses and development further to the east. In 1949, the Rice family donated the land to the Lane Association.

Predating East Shore Lane was Edwards Lane, the road that served the Edwards family.  Part of the cottage at 2536 East Shore Lane (photo 1) is an early house which was owned by this family. It was originally adjacent to Edwards Lane, but located farther from the lake. At some point in the mid-twentieth century, it was moved to the lakefront and expanded for use as a summer cottage.

In 1919 Everman and dark published their study of Lake Maxinkuckee (Everman, Barton Warren and Howard Walton dark. Lake Maxinkuckee: A Physical and Biological Survey Vol. I and II. Indianapolis: Indiana Department of Conservation, 1920 ) They included a list of property owners around the lake, noting where cottages had been constructed. They listed 85 cottages on the East Shore, indicating that a majority of present-day cottages had been built by that time. A few additional houses were built in the 1920s. One of these was the Roach-Rockwood Cottage at 2100 East Shore Drive, built c. 1923.

The Norman Perry House at 894 East Shore, completed in 1929, was one of the last great houses built on the East Shore. An elaborate Spanish Colonial Revival style house, it represented a departure from the typical East Shore cottage. The Perry House occupies the property known as Peeples Point, which affords a sweeping view of the lake at one of the highest points of its shore. Perry was the son of Charles Coffin Perry, who, with Daniel Marmon, started the company which would eventually become Indianapolis Power and Light. Norman Perry became president of Indianapolis Power and Light in 1926. He was a director of several banks and other companies, and owner of the Indianapolis Indians, a minor league baseball team.  A number of Indiana literary figures are associated with the Culver-Lake Maxinkuckee area. General Lew Wallace wrote parts of Ben Hur while staying at the Allegheny House in Maxinkuckee (photo 24). Meredith Nicholson composed much of his popular novel, The House of a Thousand Candles (published in 1905), at the home of Preston Wolfe (Vonnegut-WoIfe House, 762 East Shore Drive, right in photo 33). The setting for the novel was the Culver-Lake Maxinkuckee area. Nicholson’s contemporaries, author Booth Tarkington and poet James Whitcomb Riley, also spent time at the lake. Tarkington wrote part of his novel. The Gentleman from Indiana, while staying at a fishing cottage on the East Shore (1910 East Shore Drive, photo 11). Riley wrote a poem about the lake while visiting in about 1900. Author Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. spent boyhood summers at the lake, staying with family at the cottage built for his grandfather, Bernard Vonnegut (782 East Shore Drive).

The Great Depression and World War II caused a slow-down in construction on Lake Maxinkuckee as was the case elsewhere in Indiana. Until the post-war period, when cottages were built on a few of the small number of remaining vacant parcels, construction work on the East Shore was generally limited to repair and remodeling work.

Recreation

The historic district is significant in the area of Recreation as a representation of a  northern Indiana lake resort of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Post Civil War industrialization led to increased urbanization. As cities became more crowded, noisier and dirtier, the wealthy sought places like Lake Maxinkuckee, especially in the heat of the summer. An expanding railroad network made travel more practical, and the lakes sport fishing, swimming, boating, sailing, golf, and tennis, for example - became popular at Lake Maxinkuckee during this period.

Sport fisherman were the earliest tourists at Lake Maxinkuckee. They first came in the 1860s from Indianapolis and other cities. Lew Wallace, the Crawfordsville author, was an avid fisherman. He is said to have written parts of his novel Ben Hur (published in 1880) while staying at the Allegheny House during fishing trips. Other early anglers stayed at area farmhouse, including the Norris Farmhouse, which was built around 1880.  In the 1870s, men began to bring their families to the lake. Families enjoyed such activities as swimming and boating. Most families kept a row boat or a canoe. Sailing did not become common until the 1890s. The Aubbeenaubee Yacht Club was established in 1896 and races began to be held.

During and after World War I, yacht club activities ceased for a time. The club was reorganized as the Maxinkuckee Yacht Club in 1931 at the cottage of Charles Barnaby at 1444 East Shore Drive. Many of the cottages have “lookouts,” such as the one at 1814 East Shore Drive (photo 14), which provide a position for viewing the races.  Generally, the base of these lookouts is used for storage, often of boats.

Golf and tennis were also enjoyed by the cottagers. The Coffin Golf Course, opposite the Coffin Cottage at 1480 East Shore Drive, was started in about 1906 as a three-hole course, and may be one of the oldest courses in Indiana. It was expanded and named the East Shore Country Club in 1922. In 1925, the name was changed to the Maxinkuckee

Country Club. In the first decade of the twentieth century, at a time when tennis was becoming popular in Indiana, private courts were built by a few cottagers who had sufficient lawn space. Later, a court was built on the property of the Maxinkuckee Country Club. 

Other recreational activities included parties, dances, and other gatherings at cottages. Historically, music was an important part of entertainment at the lake. Many cottages had pianos or player pianos. Groups of musicians would often get together to perform for other cottagers for an evening’s entertainment. Some cottages were particularly known for parties and dances. The Shirk Cottage at 1322 East Shore Drive, for example, has a large room which is conducive for such gatherings. Cole Porter, a Peru native, was a frequent summer visitor at the lake in his youth, and often played the piano here.  The historic district is significant for its architecture, an intact group of resort cottages, dating from about 1873 to 1945. Most of the cottages are simple, vernacular structures.  A few more elaborate cottages represent academic styles of architecture. As a whole, the cottages and other resources represent the typical architecture seen at an Indiana lake resort of the era.

A common vernacular type is the gable-front cottage. Houses of this type are generally one-and-a-half stories in height, of wood-frame construction, and have clapboard siding.  They invariably have one-story front porches which overlook the lake. Little in the way of ornamentation is present on these early gable-fronts, which were common in the period from about 1873-to 1910. As is the case with most of the early cottages, additions have been made to these houses over the years. Examples of gable-fronts include the Elliott Cottage at 2014 East Shore Drive, built c. 1875; the cottage at 1424 East Shore Drive, built c. 1890, and “Woodbank” (the Wood Cottage) at 2738 East Shore Lane, built in 1894. The Hendricks Cottage at 1780 East Shore Drive, built c.1885, is another early gable-front, but is distinctive for decorative elements such as fish-scale shingles and a king post in the gable, which suggest the Queen Anne style.  Another type represented in several early East Shore cottages is a one-and-a-half to two-story, double-pile house with a side gable roof, and a cross-gable over the entry. Again, these are wood-frame houses with clapboard siding, front porches, and little ornamentation. The Rice Cottage, built c. 1905 and located at 2296 East Shore Lane is a good example of this type.

A large number of early lake dwellings can be classified as composite cottages and houses.  These are one-and-a-half to two-and-a-half story, wood-frame structures with irregular plans and complex roofs. An outstanding example is “Portledge” (the Coffin Cottage), built in 1905, located at 1480 East Shore Drive. This house is essentially a cube, with extensions on the sides and rear. Other examples of composite houses include the Bernard Vonnegut Cottage at 782 East Shore Drive, and the Vonnegut Wolfe Cottage at 762 East Shore Drive.

The Craftsman style has been imposed in varying degrees on many East Shore Cottages. Because of the style’s association the natural environment and emphasis on simple craftsmanship, its presence is hardly surprising at a place where urban dwellers sought to escape the industrial surroundings of the city. The buildings of the Marmon property at 1100 East Shore Drive reflect the influence of the style, as does the George Vonnegut Cottage at 742 East Shore Drive.

Present in small numbers on the East Shore are houses representing two common Midwest styles of the early twentieth century, American four-square and Bungalow. The Irwin-Shafer-Wilkinson Cottage at 2450 East Shore Lane, built in 1908, and the Glossbrenner Cottage at 1650 East Shore Drive, built C. 1905 are examples of four-squares. One of the few examples of the Bungalow style is the Trone Cottage at 2324 East Shore Lane, built c. 1920.

The Colonial Revival style, another popular style on Main Street around the turn-of-the-century, is also rare on the East Shore. The Barnaby Cottage at 1444 East Shore Drive, built c. 1900, is an interesting example with its gambrel-roofed dormers. The Roach-Rockwood Cottage at 2100 East Shore Drive, built c. 1923, is a high style example.  With its symmetrical facade and academic detailing, it is a rare representation of any |formal house type on the East Shore.

Also seen infrequently are the exotic house styles favored by some affluent Hoosiers in the early twentieth century. Two very grand examples are the Shirk-Robinson Cottage, at m1322 East Shore Drive; and the Perry House at 894 East Shore Drive. Built around 1900 by wealthy Peru banker Milton Shirk, the highly decorative Shirk Robinson Cottage is modeled after a Swiss chalet. The exquisitely detailed Perry House, built in 1929 by Indianapolis businessman Norman Perry, represents the Spanish Colonial Revival. In general, the houses around the lake are in good condition. They vary in degree of integrity. Many cottages have a high degree of integrity. Among these are “Woodbank” at 2738 East Shore Drive, the Gates-Holliday Cottage at 1570 East Shore Drive, the Hord Cottage at 1556 East Shore Drive, the cottage at 1840 East Shore Drive, “Portledge” at 1480 East Shore Drive, the Marmon Cottage at 1100 East Shore Drive, the Perry House at 894 East Shore Drive, and the Mueller Cottage at 844 East Shore Drive.

In other cases, some alterations have taken place. Common changes include the enclosure of front porches, additions, synthetic siding, and replacement of windows. Examples range from the Trone Cottage at 2324 East Shore Lane, which has a high degree of integrity with the exception of an enclosed front porch, to the house at 2314 East Shore Lane, which has an enclosed front porch, synthetic siding, and the addition of a second story. Other examples of alterations include replaced windows on the second story and an enclosed front porch on the Irwin-Shafer-Wilkinson Cottage at 2450 East Shore Lane; synthetic siding and an enclosed front porch on the Rice Cottage at 2296 East Shore Lane; synthetic siding and altered windows on the second story of the Failey Cottage at 1820 East Shore Lane; and the re-facing, in Bedford stone, of the Osborn House at 1680 East Shore Lane, in 1949.

Sources:

Citizens Historical Society (Marion County), Donaldson G. Trone.

Citizens Historical Society (Putnam County), Charles Howard Barnaby.

Corwin, Edwin R. One Township’s Yesterdays. Culver: Culver Citizen, 1934.

Dunn, Jacob Piatt. Indiana and Indianans. American Historical Society, 1919.  Evermann, Barton Warren, and Howard Walton Clark. Lake Maxinkuckee: A Physical and Biological Survey. Vol. I and II. Indianapolis: Indiana Department of Conservation, Ford, Richard. Interview. Wabash, Indiana, January 1997.

Greenleaf, Anne Marmon. Program for the Antiquarian and Historical Society of Culver on the History of the Marmon Cottage. Culver, Indiana, July 1996.  “Hilarity Hill at Lake Maxinkuckee famous for Indianapolis fishermen long before the day of summer cottages, autos and speed boats,” Indianapolis News, \ August 1936.

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(Obituary of George Vonnegut Indianapolis Star, 17 December 1932 (obituary of George Mueller); 27 May 1933

(obituary of Wilbur C. Johnson); 15 November 1938 (obituary of Alfred Glossbrenner); 13 February 1940 (obituary of Elizabeth C. Marmon);

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National Register of Historic Places Continuation Sheet Section 9 Page 19 East Shore Historic District

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