The Geneva Lake Shore Path
Considered a living history of sorts, landmarked by grand and historic estates built in the 19th and early 20th centuries by some of Chicago’s biggest movers and shakers, walking the shore path of Geneva Lake is a “must do”. The entire journey is just over 20 miles and though it is possible to walk the entire path on a long summer’s day, it is most enjoyable when broken up into several shorter adventures. Contact Lake Geneva Cruise Line, (262) 248-6206, www.cruiselakegeneva.com, about their Lake Shore Path walk & cruise options.
From Lake Geneva to Chapin Road (approx. 3.5 miles; flat to rolling terrain • The Lake Geneva Public Library. Designed by a student of Frank Lloyd Wright. • Maple Lawn. Built for Shelton Sturges, one of the first families to build grand scale homes on Geneva Lake. • Covenant Harbor. A popular Midwestern Bible camp, was originally known as Snug Harbor. • Northwoodside. Owner was known for serenading his neighbors by playing an immense pipe organ late at night. • Green Gables. The original Wrigley estate. • Wadsworth Hall. Locally known as the Driehaus Estate, was painstakingly restored to its former glory using original blueprints and drawings.
From Chapin Road to Williams Bay (approx. 3 miles; often paved, but can be steep/uneven around Cedar Point) • Ara Glen. Built as a billiards hall for the Pishcotaqua Resort (1880-1892), was turned into a family home when the resort burned down. • Glen Annie. A true slice of Americana with the radio show “Amos n’ Andy” being taped here for a time in the ‘30s. • Alpine Villa. The current location of Cedar Point Park, which at its peak included 121 acres of land along the northern shore.
From Williams Bay to Fontana (approx. 1.75 miles; mostly lawns, dirt paths, some boardwalks and varying surfaces) • Congress Club. A summer retreat created for Chicago families • Yerkes Observatory. Home to the world’s largest refracting telescope. • George Williams College. Named after the founder of the YMCA. • Holiday Home Camp. Founded in 1887 as a camp for underprivileged children from Chicago. • Sunny Hill. Has been in the same family since 1929. • The Buena Vista Club. Originally a campground, members began constructing permanent residences in the early 1900s.
From Fontana to Shadow Lane (approx. 2.5 miles; some rugged spots) • The Abbey Resort. Offers luxurious accommodations, a myriad of restaurants, full-service spa and a private beach. • Glenwood Springs. The earliest planned community on Geneva Lake with five cozy clapboard Queen Anne cottages being the original structures. • Hazeldore. One of the few true remaining summer homes left on Geneva Lake is actually three separate buildings under one roof, connected via a veranda around the main house. • The Harvard Club. Began as a campsite for Harvard, IL families with four parallel rows of homes, each pair facing each other. • The Echoes. In 1913, then owner Amariah Cox, a partner with William Wrigley Jr. in a little chewing gum venture, allowed regal peacocks to roam the property freely. • The Lake Geneva Club. Established in 1922, there are now 32 homes as part of the association. • The Chicago Club. Began as a cluster of tents and is now four white clapboard homes dating to the late ‘20s and early ‘30s.
From Shadow Lane to Big Foot Beach (approx. 6.3 miles; very hilly, often difficult terrain) • The South Shore Club. Built as a resort and later was the site of the Northwestern Military Academy. • Black Point Estate. A Queen Anne style home built in 1888 as the family’s “summer cottage” by Conrad Seipp, a German emigrant who built one of the largest breweries in the US. Black Point Estate was donated to the Wisconsin State Historical Society with all furnishings and such intact, to be experienced and enjoyed as a living historical museum and is on the National Register of Historic Places. • “Hysterical Marker”. Rub the nose for good fortune! • Cotswold Cottage. A great example of an English cottage built in 1939. • Lake Geneva Country Club. Opened in the spring of 1896 with a six hole golf course. • Aloha Lodge. With expansion on either side of the original structure may now be one of the largest single homes on Geneva Lake. • Glen Arden. At one time was home to Sidney Smith, creator of the Andy Gump cartoon series. His third-floor turret studio was salvaged when the estate was razed in 2004 and can be seen in a side yard. • Casa del Sueño. Home to the husband-wife creators of The Young and the Restless, who wrote many of the first scripts for the long-running soap opera here. • The Geneva Inn. Originally called Gypsy Lodge and was known as the Shore Club from the 1950s to 1987.
From Big Foot Beach to Lake Geneva (approx. 2.5 miles, some rugged spots, but mostly level) • Big Foot Beach State Park. Originally part of the Maytag estate (as in Maytag washing machine fame) and the lagoon is a replica of Geneva Lake • Lake Geneva Youth Camp. Originally home to Ceylon Court, an impressive 18,000+ square foot building from the 1893 Columbian Exposition. • Stone Manor. The largest mansion on Geneva Lake, though is now luxury condominiums. • Expect a Miracle Mansion. More than 7,000 visitors have signed the notebooks that are available on the path and the fence with inspirational quotes was created to inspire those seeing it to believe that dreams do come true. • Oak Lodge. Being cost prohibitive to renovate, the original home was razed in 2008 but the design was followed so closely that many local residences can’t tell the difference. • The Baker House. Originally named Redwood Cottage, the owner, Robert H. Baker, died before it could be finished in 1885. It is now a restaurant and hotel appropriately named for the first owner. • Flat Iron Park. A bronze sculpture of cartoon character Andy Gump stands in the park. • The Riviera Ballroom. Opened in 1932 and was a popular venue to some of the biggest names in music history, including Louis Armstrong.