The mode of transportation was boat or train. There was no television, women couldn’t vote, and the average income was around $1200. Times were different in the early 1900’s, but even then, cottages on Glen Lake were the destination for many every summer.
Local Glen Arbor resident and former GLA Vice President Barbara Siepker has published Historical Cottages of Glen Lake (Leelanau Press, 2008), an up-close look at 50 historic cottages and their history on Big and Little Glen, all built before 1950.
Siepker developed the concept for the book after receiving a grant from The Edmund F. Ball Fellowship, and presenting the history of 15 cottages at the Leelanau Historical Society in 2005.
“I worked with a wonderful photographer in Traverse City, Dietrich Floeter,” says Siepker. “He used a wide view camera, similar to what was used in that era, which really helps to set the scene for imagining what the cottages were like at the time.”
The Glen Lake area had many popular resorts, even back then. People came to the resorts and many times purchased land after falling in love with the area. Big Glen offered resorts Tonawathya, Glen Eden, Atkinson’s and Krulls. Cold Springs, Cedar Springs and Kenwood were on Little Glen.
Siepker says it was difficult and quite time consuming to find the stories of these cottages, but felt it was important to capture the history before the cottages are gone forever.
“So many cottages have already been lost. It was important for me to preserve the history of those that remain. But first I had to figure out which cottages held the history, what that history was, locate the necessary people, and then record it. Most people I contacted were very enthusiastic and willing to share their stories.”
Owner of The Cottage Book Shop in Glen Arbor, Barbara plans to continue her research and learn about cottages built after 1950. Since moving to the area with her husband Frank in the early 1990’s, she has been eager to learn as much as possible about the area.
“There is a rich history here, and not much written about it,” she says. “I want to help preserve it while we still can.”