LFLB History Museum

Places to Reflect: Tents, Cottages and Hotels

Photo Courtesy Lake Bluff History Museum.

Tents were used to house campers for the first two to three summers of the Lake Bluff Camp Meetings. As the camp meeting became more popular, wooden summer cottages were built. An advertisement boasted in 1877 that cottages “could be built in 20 days from receipt of the order of $250” on 25-foot lots.

In these small cottages, there were no kitchens as the occupants received vouchers to eat at the hotels. Bathrooms were also absent, as guests could use the public bathroom. Camp meeting architecture is seen as a distinct American style.

Source: Tiny Houses by Lester Walker by Overlook Press
Many of the cottages had two stories with two rooms per floor, such as this one (since added onto) at 240 Prospect.

The Hotel Irving was built in 1883 in the in what is now the 500 block of Prospect Avenue (right across from the tabernacle). It was five stories tall and could house 500 guests, the largest hotel between Milwaukee and Chicago. It had shops, a bowling alley, ballroom and even running water. It burned down in 1897, contributing to the decline of the camp meeting in Lake Bluff.

The Lake Bluff Hotel was built for the second season and had 52 rooms at $1 per day with a dining room that seated 300. The hotel owned 700 cots that could be rented to those sleeping in tents. The hotel was managed by Rev. Charles G Trusdell, first president of the Village.