Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, August 24, 1997, pg. 19
Since Albion doesn’t have a lake of its own, people have been driving to area lakes such as Duck Lake or Swains Lake for years for their summer fun. For the first two decades of the 20th century however, “the lake” was alot closer--only two miles west of town. Mt. Calm Lake (original spelling), known as Montcalm Lake, was once an amusement park and beach which attracted many residents during the summer months.
If you don’t know where Montcalm Lake is, it is the lake that is now encircled by land owned entirely by Starr Commonwealth. The resort was located at the south end of the lake, on a 20-acre plot of land owned by local Albion saloonist John G. Fox (1858-1929). A native of Marshall, Fox operated his saloon in downtown Albion beginning in the 1880s, through 1907. At that time he opened the Montcalm Lake resort.
The place included a bathing beach for swimming in the lake, bath houses, a boat livery, picnic grounds, a dozen tables, a pavilion which had space for a bowling alley and a pool table, a dance hall, and scenic woods with paths. There was also a manual merry-go-round which was quite popular. A place was reserved for those who came in horse-drawn vehicles. Snacks, popcorn, ice cream and soda could be purchased at the concession stand, and local orchestras played live music at the pavilion.
For those who couldn’t walk or drive form Albion, the electric interurban car went by and would make a special stop along present-day Michigan Avenue for 5˘. The Montcalm resort was the site of numerous family reunions and Sunday School picnics for many years.
Mr. Fox sold the facility to R. C. Sexton in the 1920s, who continued to operate it for several years before the property was purchased by the Starr Commonwealth for Boys in the 1930s. Today it is part of the campus of Starr Commonwealth. Nearly two decades ago Starr Commonwealth had the 41-acre lake dredged, which improved the quality of the lake and the fish found therein.
From our Historical Notebook this week we present a 1907 photograph of the Montcalm Lake resort merry-go-round, with members of a local ladies organization enjoying themselves. When is the last time you were able to climb aboard a hand-operated merry-go-round such as this?
1907 Montcalm Lake Resort Merry-go-round
Next: A PRESIDENTIAL VISIT
All text copyright, 2014 © all rights reserved Frank Passic