Nov 2, 2005

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1902 map Douglas Lakeshore
Click on the map for a larger image

View of Center Street looking east toward Ferrt Street corner

Looking north from corner of
Lakeshore Drive. and Center Street

The McVea family home Beachmont
catered to summer visitors.
Photo ca 1940

"Orchard Cabin" on the corner of
Center St. and Lakeshore Dr. The cottage
was recently restored.

These photos, courtesy of the Wallin family, were taken ca 1910.


Ever notice—our history always has a beginning— and it usually starts with an interesting story.

“Three damn fools want to pay $500 for a pile of sand in my cow pasture, and I want to close it up (the deal) before they back out” -- the Irish farmer and sailer Thomas McVea said to the Allegan County surveyor. Who got the better end of the deal is obscured in the haze of history. But at any rate, so begins the story of the sale of a piece of the McVea property in the summer of 1899 to three “city slickers” named Sayre, Canfield, and Sperry. After short visits these gentlemen had fallen in love with the Douglas lakeshore and hatched a plan to build summer cottages in the area just north of the present Douglas Beach. The coveted property was on the edge of what was then McVea’s farm. Determined to proceed with their plan they negotiated for a piece of the McVea cow pasture which included 500 feet of Lake Michigan beach.

At that time the area included just two summer resident families, the Barto and the Douglass families, from the Chicago area. Nearby, to the east, were the Trumbulls and McVeas – who were serious farmers, sailors and pioneers of the area.

Sayre started to build and completed his place straight away. The others made plans and built in 1900 on what became known as The Knolls. In fact in that year a building boomlet commenced when some six cottages were completed. In the next ten years land prices went up, Shorewood was created and the pioneer settlers with fattened wallets went into the summer resort business and built Beachmont (McVea), Five Acre Farm (Trumbull), and Rosemont (Bryan).

Those summer roots grew deep and so our history began ...        by Jack Sheridan

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