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The White Swan Dancing Pavillion The Lighthouse
The White Swan Dancing Pavillion

Mark A. Roeder, in his History of Culver and Lake Maxinkuckee, writes, "one famous vessel on Lake Maxinkuckee was neither a steamer, launch, or sail boat. She was the motorless flat barge known as "The White Swan." She had ornate upper and lower decks for dancing and was towed from place to place. She was often decorated with garlands of white flowers and lighted by Chinese lanterns. In her later days she was dragged onto the shore and converted into a building called Crook's Hall, owned by Captain Crook. It was later used as an apartment house. Much of Crook's Hall, located at the top of Harding Court, was built out of  'The White Swan.'"

Later, Roeder expanded on the later career of "The White Swan":

"Crook's Hotel was located at the top of Harding Court and is still standing (a large house at the top of the hill, painted gold). This was the same Capt. Crook that ran boats on the lake. The dance pavillion, the White Swan, was dismantled and the material used to construct much of the building. It was earlier known as Lord House, named after its owner. Apparently Capt. Crook didn't like the name and changed it to his own."

Pavalion on Lake Maxikuckee

"Pavalion on Lake Maxikuckee," reads this 1910 postcard depicting the pavilion at Vandalia Park.

White Swan Dancing Pavillion

A "stereoscope" image of the White Swan Dancing Pavillion on the Lake. This image comes from the collection of Ted Schenberg.

Captain Crook's Home and Hotel

"Captain Crook's Home and Hotel," circa the house is the Helber House.

White Swan Dancing Pavillion

A rare photo of the White Swan dance pavilion, docked somewhere on the shores of Lake Maxinkuckee, from the Fred Karst collection.


Built in 1900, the lighthouse of Vandalia Park once stood just to the east of the steamboat landing pier, today's fishing pier in the town park. Today, a small fountain is located where the lighthouse once stood, on the shoreline just west of the edge of today's public beach.

The lighthouse served, apparently, to notify steamboats that passengers were waiting, and to show boats, after dark, where the shore and landing were in those days before widespread electricity.

The lighthouse was apparently damaged beyond repair in the "big wind" of July, 1913, a fierce windstorm that did immense damage locally. Culver's Antiquarian and Historical Society hopes to recreate the lighthouse in its original location in the near future.

Lighthouse Early Postcard

An early postcard showing the lighthouse that once operated on Lake Maxinkuckee.

Undated Postcard

Another view of the lighthouse in Vandalia Park in this undated postcard; this is slightly different from the more common images.

The Gazebo

The Gazebo at Lake Maxinkuckee, a very early postcard. Close examination in the lower left portion of the photo shows the lighthouse.

Scientific Club

This photo, also a large print from the Cleveland collection, has "7-20-07" printed on it, and depicts a group gathered around the lighthouse in Vandalia Park. The flags held by a few of the people appear to say, "Scientific Club."

Depot Pier

This postcard  depicts Depot Pier and some of the boats docked there, sometime before 1913. The lighthouse itself is obscured by the trunk of the tree at the left-hand side of the photo, but the large rock base on which the lighthouse stands can be seen.

Lighthouse Postcard

Though dark, the lighthouse can be seen in the left, lower corner of this 1904 postcard.

1906 Lighthouse Postcard

1906 variation on the odds and ends of postcards produced depicting the light house that once stood in Vandalia Park.

Boat Landing

A very rare shot of the boat landing in Vandalia park, this time showing not only the round refreshment stand from an unusual angle, but also the lighthouse that sat on the shoreline.

Lighthouse 1895

Bob Hartman, archivist at Culver Academies, provided this rare, 1895 glimpse of the lighthouse at Vandalia park, up to recently thought to have been built in 1900.

Unknown Structure

This late 1800s shot of Vandalia Park shows the same odd frame structure (in the form of a church or school building). No one seems to know exactly what the structure was used for, and it is no longer visible in photos from a few years hence. The lighthouse can be seen, upon close examination, just to the left (or west) of the building in the picture.

Lighthouse Area

Fascinating view of the Vandalia Park lighthouse area from the one of the boats of the Bliss family, cottagers on the East Shore near the turn of the century. More of the Bliss families photos (mostly of their home and Lake Maxinkuckee) on the Hotels and Homes page.

Lighthouse Postcard Lighthouse Postcard

The two postcards above, though they depict the same photo of the lighthouse, differ substantially. The photo on the right has been modified to include a number of popular Vandalia Park attractions of the period (1900-1913). The color postcard is actually a multi-layered creation, something like a 2-dimensional pop-up book, quite a rare find from the Mike Shesky collection. Visible in the rear left is the "round stand" ice cream stand in the park, and in the right rear is the bluff overlooking Lake Maxinkuckee on which sat the Lakeview Hotel. While both the stand and the hotel were indeed located to the left and right rear of the lighthouse, this postcard enlarges them artificially.

The photo at left gives a clear view of the footbridge and small, circular "moat" that once surrounded the lighthouse. This footbridge was of some debate when it appeared in other photos, but the postcard at left makes its location clear. The "moat" was fed by a natural spring which for most of the 20th century flowed in fountain form just west of the public beach. The spring was capped in 2005 in preparation for the erection of the replica lighthouse in the town park.


The aforementioned footbridge is here clearly visible, along with the "moat" that surrounded the lighthouse, fed by a natural spring just west oft he public swimming beach. In this photo, the lighthouse itself appears to have already been destroyed (an event which occurred in 1913), judging by the angle of the photo. It is not certain how long the moat and footbridge remained after the lighthouse disappeared. Thanks to Mike Shesky for the use of this postcard.

Steamboat Pier

This colorized postcard shows the steamboat pier in Vandalia Park in the background, with the lighthouse visible at left. Thanks to Mike Shesky for the use of this postcard.