Chesterton Tribune

Historians hear history of Beverly Shores

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Frederick H. Bartlett envisioned a metropolitan resort community, an "Atlantic City of the Midwest” when he advertised his Lake Shore properties in 1927. The area became known as Beverly Shores in 1929, named after the daughter of Frederick’s brother Robert.

Carl Reed, president of the Beverly Shores Historical Society and Display Coordinator for the Beverly Shores Museum, presented  the “History of Beverly Shores” for the Duneland Historical Society Thursday, March 18 at the Library Service Center.

The Beverly Shores Post Office opened in 1935 and the town incorporated in 1947. It is the only town in the world to carry the name Beverly Shores. Reed’s research turned up a gated community in South Haven, Michigan and a church campus in Lakeland, Florida as the only other areas called Beverly Shores.

The town lies between the Indiana Dunes State Park and Michigan City. Frederick Bartlett sold lots from east to west and advertised that the property could be reached by highway, South Shore Railroad or by excursion boat from Chicago.

Six model homes were built where Central Beach is now and a Beverly Shores school was built in 1931. Homes in Beverly Shores have featured Spanish architecture which was popular in the early days and perhaps influenced by the fact that Robert Bartlett had a ranch in Sedona, Arizona.

By 1933 Robert Bartlett was the owner of the development and in 1934 he arranged for houses from the Chicago Century of Progress World’s Fair to be brought to Beverly Shores.

Contrary to popular belief, not all the buildings came by barge. Four came by barge and another 12 were brought by truck. A 200’ x 40’ pier was built to receive the barges and existed for many years.

Six Century of Progress buildings still stand including five houses which are being restored. Some of the original buildings came from the American Colonial Village at the fair and some of them have been destroyed by fire over the years.  The Old North Church replica was used as a church for a time and is now a private residence. Some of the others were Mount Vernon, the Governor’s Mansion,  Paul Revere’s house, Betsy Ross’s house and the House of Seven Gables.

In its heyday in the mid 30s the town had four places which offered live music, the Beverly Shores Hotel had a roof garden, the Dunes Theater produced eight plays between July 4 and Labor Day and there was a popular golf course across U. S. 12 where the national park campground is now.

The hotel was located on the west side of Broadway and had 32 rooms. It was built in 1934, became a nursing home in 1952 and finally was taken down by the National Lakeshore in the 1970s.  The theater operated from 1935 until 1942. Curtain times depended on when the  8:15 South Shore train arrived from Michigan City.

Lenard’s Casino on the beach, which became the Red Lantern in 1968, was a complete resort facility including a bathhouse.

Reed said there has been a myth that Lake Front Drive in the early days extended all the way to Michigan City. He says it went only three and a half miles and erosion over the years has taken part of the road and houses which were on the beach side. In all of Beverly Shores there are only two houses remaining on the beach side of Lake Front Drive and both of those are Century of Progress homes.

In answer to a question about the Lithuanian population of Beverly Shores, Reed said they came after the World War II as many other communities were settled by groups of people of the same nationality.

The Beverly Shores South Shore station now houses the Depot Art Gallery and Museum which will open for its 13th year on April 16.

The next meeting of the Duneland Historical Society will be April 15, 7:30 p.m., at the Library Service Center when the program “The Little Train That Could: The South Shore Railroad” will be presented by Mitch Markovitz. Members have received information about the spring dinner which will precede the program.



Posted 3/24/2010