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Lakeside is a private community and census-designated place in northern Ohio, United States, on the shores of Lake Erie. It was formed in 1873 by members of the Methodist Church and remains a church-affiliated vacation resort. It is one of only a few continuously operating Independent Chautauquas that persist in the 21st century. It is located in Ottawa County's Danbury Township, near the town of Marblehead. The community is approximately one square mile in size. The entire community is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Lakeside Historic District.
In 1873, Lakeside began as a small tract of cleared land, a campsite where Christian revivals often took place. The deed to part of what is now Lakeside was purchased by the Central Ohio Conference of the Methodist Church. Financial backers and organizers included Rev. Richard P. Duvall, who at one time had done missionary work for relocated Sac and Fox Indians in Oklahoma; B. H. Jacobs, a Danish immigrant who owned a store in nearby Port Clinton and who was a Civil War veteran; and Samuel R. Gill, twenty-seven years of age, who had grown up on the Marblehead peninsula.
Throughout the remainder of the 1800s, Lakeside remained a camp area, and very few cottages were erected. However, in 1874, a dormitory-style building called Pilgrim's Rest was built. May 1875 saw the beginning of work on the Hotel Lakeside.
Lakeside was one of the first communities to affiliate with the Chautauqua movement. "Chautauqua" is a word that implies a retreat or resort that combines religious observation, summer education, recreation and cultural opportunities. Today Lakeside remains one of a handful of Chautauquas in America, with a full schedule of summer activities and recreation facilities.
The Lakeside Association also made the decision early on to sell plots of land within the community on renewable 99 year leases. Over the years, residents built cottages and houses on their plots. Almost all of the cottages are unique; many are wood houses in Victorian style, although different styles of buildings and materials can also be seen. Restaurants and shops also opened around the downtown park of Lakeside. The Lakeside Association eventually purchased additional land on its eastern side, enabling the community to grow. Recreation facilities, meeting halls, places of worship, and parks have been added over the years. The Lakeside Association is responsible for the upkeep of all roads and public services within Lakeside.
Lakeside is a gated community from the end of June through Labor Day. To enter Lakeside during the summer Chautauqua season, individuals must pay a gate fee, which helps support maintenance and improvements in town. Activities that are provided as part of the gate fee include sport and water sport activities, as well as Christian-themed activities and worship, in keeping with the area's history. There is a program every night in the spacious Hoover Auditorium, twenty-six shuffleboard courts, tennis courts, and all kinds of children's activities. The summer calendar includes some activities for which there is an extra charge, such as miniature golf, movies at the Orchestra Hall theater, and a historical tour of homes. Lakeside also has a large pier jutting into Lake Erie, which offers fishing, swimming, kayaking, and sailing. Lakeside also features a handful of unique stores. Additionally, the dining opportunities in the area are varied, including numerous types of cuisine and a variety of settings. The miniature golf course opened in 1963 and was recently renovated in 2008.
Lakeside is also the home of both the prestigious annual international shuffleboard competition and the national competition.
Lakeside contains many well preserved historic buildings. In 2001 Chris Thomas documented all the homes and buildings within the gates of Lakeside, and counted a total of 890, although more have been built since then along the Oak Avenue extension and still others as in-fill projects. The community is largely residential with a small business/shopping area near Central Park. The Lakeside Association owns and operates a number of large assembly buildings:
- Hoover Auditorium (Third St. between Walnut and Central)
- South Auditorium (Sixth St. between Walnut and Central)
- Orchestra Hall (corner of Second and Walnut)
- Wesley Lodge (Fifth St. between Walnut and Central)
- C. Kirk Rhein Jr.Center for the Living Arts(in the Epworth Lodge, corner of Sixth and Walnut)
- WoHoMis Lodge (corner of Central and Fifth)
Places of Worship:
- Bradley Temple (corner of Cedar and Third) The Bradley family constructed this facility and donated it to Lakeside on the condition that it be used for children's worship activities.
- Lakeside United Methodist Church (corner of Fifth and Central)
- Chapel in the Woods (outdoor space along Maple past Seventh)
- Hoover Auditorium (Third St between Walnut and Cantral) Lakeside's main auditorium, with a seating capacity of 3,000 persons, is used for worship services on Sunday mornings and headline events during the week.
There is also a small local museum, Heritage Hall, at the corner of Maple Avenue and Third Street. The Lakeside Archives, where property records and Lakeside Association minutes going back to the 1800s are available for inspection, is located at Sycamore and Third Street.
The fountain at Lakeside Hotel was built by the late landscaper Robert L. Barna, and two of his sons Jimmy J. Barna (Landscape/Architect), and Steven C. Barna.
The Hotel Lakeside was built in 1874 and is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day. After Labor Day through October, it is open to private groups only. The Fountain Inn, on the other hand, is open all year. A more modern hotel, it has conference facilities as well. There are many privately owned cottages available for rental through local real estate offices, in addition to smaller bed and breakfast inns. Cabins and an RV campground are available for a more rustic atmosphere. Finally, group dormitory accommodations, usually for youth groups, are available at WoHoMis Lodge.
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