FIRST OF A
SERIES - BEGINNING “THE COVE”
From a howling
wilderness in 1835 to a near boom town in the 1860s, the early pioneers –-
Plummer, Thompson, Richards, and Perrotet--brought to Pier Cove a quarter
century of modest glory. But by the late 1870s the lumber-tannery era was
ending. For the next 20 years the area lived by the shipping business which
ran from the two open water piers.
As the 19th century came to a close, new pioneers appeared on the scene.
These were entrepreneurs who had made their name and fortune mostly in
Chicago and to the south of here --they were attracted by the beauty and
cool of the Lake Michigan shore. One of these second generation pioneers was
Ossian Cole Simonds (1855-1931).
O. C. as he was called, was a first and foremost mid-western landscape
architect. An innovator and a visionary, he led the Midwest movement of
landscape design. Simonds called for natural preservation for both aesthetic
and utilitarian reasons. He was a master creator of parks, a campus and
arboretum planner (at both the University of Michigan and Michigan State),
and was the designer of the acclaimed Graceland Cemetery in Chicago. In
addition he wrote, taught and founded university programs and was the only
Midwesterner among the eleven charter members of the American Society of
When O C and his close friend James Butler Johnson (1850-1902) arrived in
Pier Cove in the late 1880s, the area had been logged off leaving a scrubby
ravine of dune land. But the possibilities they saw for the land, the creek,
the mill pond, the old mill and the lake shore excited them and they vowed
to establish summer homes there. Soon after, Simonds purchased the old mill
and began to buy much of the surrounding property. Here he was to apply his
ideas and professional landscaping genius. In the following forty years,
Simonds, Johnson and other families they attracted to the “The Cove”,
transformed it into a most marvelous place.