Along the southwest section of the Lake (on North Shore Drive, east of County Trunk O), you’ll find the property that comprises the Chicago Club. This area was subdivided in the late 1920’s. The lots on the lakefront were developed first, closely followed by the lots closest to the North Shore Drive. The first owners were from Chicago and had responded to an ad in the Chicago Tribune. Thus, the development was named the Chicago Club and organized by these first few owners. Officers were elected, and there were two annual meetings, which were to benefit and bring cohesiveness to the owners. Dues were collected for the payment of electricity to operate the common well. Later the dues were used for maintenance of the road, pier, and improvements.
Two of the cottages here were moved to Delavan from the Worlds Fair in Chicago, and they are still standing today. Most of the cottages were built by 1940 and were not centrally heated. The water pipes, however, had to be installed below the frost line. Gas for heating and cooking was supplied only if the cottage was rented to a defense worker.
After 1950, all lots had been sold and developed. It was then that some were converted and used year round. There are 26 cottages in the Chicago Club subdivision of which 15 are permanent residences. Only one cottage was originally built as a year round home. Owners had access to a pier and some boat slips, and many a joyful and carefree summer was enjoyed there.
Before World War II, most of the boats on the Lake were fishing boats or small rowboats. If they had motors, they were small, 1½-5 horsepower. There was one boat with a 12 hp motor, and the people were in awe! There was one owner on the lakefront who owned a Chris Craft. There were a few more on the Lake, as well as some sailboats. Sailboat races from the Yacht Club could be seen on Sundays.
On the pier at night, music could be heard from the Dutch Mill Dance Hall across the Lake on Blue Gill Road. Sometimes you could hear performances of the Glenn Miller and Harry James bands playing there. During the day, activities from the girls’ camp and the Northwestern camp on the island could be observed, as well as from the Boy Scout camp just west of Chicago Club.
As each summer approached, one was anxious to spend their vacation at Chicago Club and renew old summer friendships while enjoying a casual summer of swimming, hiking, horseback riding, roller-skating, and an occasional movie in town – a three mile walk! Leisurely summers and simple pleasures.
The Chicago Club Association disbanded in 1988 after a lakefront riparian rights dispute.
Remembrances from the last resident of the original group (1935-Present), Lois Head Fritsch, DLIA Member