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Two Children in Yard of Cottage (1910 ca.)

Wisconsin Historical Society Image ID: WHi-82012


Around 1890 Henry L. Krehl and two other young men purchased a strip of farmland from William Weber on the south shore of Lake Monona, known variously as Hoboken Heights and Point Sunrise, and built a summer cottage. Before long, Krehl secured the adjoining Raywood Heights and erected more cottages. Land was cheap; lots could be had for $275. By the summer of 1905 there was a regular village along the shore from Esther Beach to Ethylwyn Park. It was inhabited by Madisonians escaping the heat of the city from late June through early September, as well as Chicagoans who rented cottages for the summer.

The area was accessible via lake steamer. Cottagers fished during the day, sailed, rowed boats upon Lake Monona, or took horse and buggy drives into the country. Campers pitched tents along the shore. Meals were served three times daily to picnickers in a dining hall at Esther Beach. In the evenings many played cards, danced to phonographs, or told ghost stories beside evening campfires. Prominent across the lake were the Schlitz building billiard room’s electric advertising sign, as well as the well-lit flagpole atop the building. The cornice at the Kentzler barn and its flagpole were similarly fitted out.

At Esther Beach campers could rent the "All Day" cottage. It adjoined Red House, the beautiful country home of Captain William McCue, which was surrounded by gardens and a half dozen greenhouses. Moving east, a walker would encounter the Piper Cottage, then the Askew cottage, the Anne Hathaway Cottage, the Scott cottage, and a second Askew cottage on Esther Beach Hill. Next came the Grieve cottage, George Neckerman’s Camp Eunice, and the Morgan summer home, Idylewild.

The first cottage in Raywood Heights was Do Drop In, followed by the Sunset cottage, Lake Wood cottage, and the Udell summer house. Walking down the shady path through the remaining stretch of Raywood Heights one next encountered the Rhodes, three Krehl, and the Kaiser, Cook, and Karstens cottages.

A. C. Meyer's new cottage was named "Rustic Roost;" his wife and her mother, Emma Schuckhart, lived there during the summer and he joined them on weekends. A cottage under construction next door promised to be “the largest and most beautiful on the grounds.”

Isaac Ketchum was erecting a cottage along the shore amongst his orchard, gardens and farm. He and his family had lived in tents on the grounds the last three years. His son had just built a tower in the orchard, 144 feet above the level of the lake, from which all of the lakes but Kegonsa were visible.

In October 1905, a month after the end of the cottage season, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Schroeder were arrested for unseemly activity at Oak Park, a resort accessible from Madison by an electric launch that made regular trips across the lake from the foot of Blair Street. They were charged with leasing and letting cottages for illegal purposes to common streetwalkers. “Oak Park has become a stench in the nostrils of decent people… God knows how many young girls have had their first fall in your place.” The couple pled guilty to renting cottages for unlawful purposes to women of ill name; he was fined $500, she $300. It had been public knowledge all summer long that Oak Park was “notorious,” and the district attorney documented for three weeks the comings and goings of women of ill fame.

Mark Gajewski