Lake City Inn and Lake City

By Barbara Dyer | Jul 12, 2014
Courtesy of: Camden Public Library "Titwillow" and "Mikado."

Camden — None of my readers, or me, remember Lake City Inn, because it was only at Megunticook Lake for three years, burning in 1895. So this history is taken from information from the Walsh History Center at the Camden Public Library and Reuel Robinson’s "History of Camden" written in 1907.

Recently some original maps of Lake City were given to me for donation to the Walsh History Center and that sparked my interest in Megunticook Lake’s history.

What they called “Lake City” was a settlement at the foot of Megunticook Lake, developed as a summer resort area in 1884. About 40 acres of property were purchased in 1887 to build a hotel, and that was completed in 1892. It was certainly a grand hotel, called Lake City Inn. The owners were Boston and Camden people. Camden was having a building boom, at that time. There were cottages built on the lake and there were picnic grounds, swings and dance floors for all to enjoy.

There was a steamer owned by George Cleveland named “Titwillow” and it pulled an excursion barge “Mikado” around the lake for a fare of ten cents. “Moonlight on the Lake” trips were the most popular. There was even a baseball field developed where local teams played against Vinalhaven, Warren and others. Summers in the “gay 90s” were very enjoyable at Lake City. In 1891, the Lake City Corporation began construction of the inn. The corporation was Camden business people including Tom Hunt, F.D.A. Singhi, E. A. Rose, W. H. Pascal and George B. Fountain, who was also the first Lake City innkeeper.

Finally in August of 1892, Lake City Inn was completed and opened for business. They recorded that it was three stories high, with 19 guest rooms on each of the second and third floors. Each room was connected by an electric bell. The first floor had a dining room that held 100 guests, as well as the sitting room and music room. It had a wrap-around verandah (or porch) and a turret on each end. By buckboard and carriage, guests began arriving from every state for the opening dinner.

You probably want to know the menu. It had two soups, baked cod with cream sauce gravy, fricasseed chicken and three types of roast meats. There were eight types of vegetables, relishes, ranging from chow chow to mustard pickles and cabbage salad. For dessert, they had pies (apple, custard, and blueberry), lemon jelly, fruits, nuts, as well as vanilla and lemon ice cream. Dancing to Bucklin’s Orchestra topped off the evening for the entire crowd to enjoy.

During the year of Lake City opening, the Rockland, Thomaston and Camden Street Railway started service. Lake City had its own fire department and there was talk of extending the trolley line to Megunticook Lake for the convenience of the Lake City Inn guests and the cottages. Unfortunately, in November of that year was the Great Fire of Camden that destroyed the whole business district of Camden.

The inn continued its brief, but wonderful time over the next few summers, but in September 1895 the wonderful resort was destroyed by fire. No cause was known, but it never was rebuilt. I went up to where I thought its location was a few years ago and there were still some rocks from the foundation.

Now, I shall write about the five wonderful maps at Walsh History Center. Originally they belong to Jessie Hosmer, who owned the Village Shop for many years. I am guessing that Cleveland gave them to her, as he once owned that store. None of the maps are dated but one map shows land and owners from the Hope Road to Megunticook Lake. Another shows owners of lots on Beaucaire Avenue. Another is a plan of Lake City in 1886 corrected to 1916. There are names on the lot and the streets are called Beach, Promenade, Loring, Canaan, Lake Side Avenue, etc.

Another map is from the U.S. Dept. of Interior and Maine State Park Commission showing Penobscot Bay, Route 1 to Colman’s Pond, Ducktrap and lots in between.

An earlier map shows number of lots and owners sold by Cleveland and Hill around 1909. Some lots were conveyed by Cleveland to Hill. Later it shows some lots sold by the Hill heirs or estate in 1919, 1921, 1924 etc. I believe Cleveland died about 1918. The street names on this map were: Main Avenue, Marginal Avenue, Summit Street, Western Avenue and Eastern Avenue.

Sorry we all missed the fun at Lake City Inn.

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Comments (1)
Posted by: Cynthia S. DellaPenna | Jul 13, 2014 13:24

A good story.  I have been interested in the Lake City Inn, since it was a popular destination for residents of Hope during its short heyday.  According to a Courier-Gazette article dated Sept. 10, 1895 entitled “An Inn Out”, the Lake City Inn fire was “discovered” in the kitchen by a guest.  I was curious about George Cleveland, wonder what happened to his steamer and barge after the loss of the inn.  Cleveland was familiar with loss, the great Camden fire of 1892 supposedly started in the basement of his Cleveland block in the building’s “heating apparatus” according to Ruel Robinson in History of Camden and Rockport, Maine. Cleveland was involved in various merchandising according to the census, a dealer in clothing in 1880, grocer in 1900 and owner of a print & hardware store in 1910.  George H. Cleveland died of valvular heart disease 12 May 1918 per the Maine Death Index on and is buried at Mountain View Cemetery.

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