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History of Scenic Rock Ledge Inn & Cottages

The Rock Ledge Inn is now a private residence and is no longer available to visitors, but it remains a rich part of a continuing history for the property known as Scenic Rock Ledge Inn. The cottages on the property, however, continue to provide lodging for the many visitors who travel to the Lake Erie north coast for rest, relaxation, and recreation.

In the late 1800s, the property, where the Inn sits now, was donated by C. Holt (whose family—the Falls—still reside in the beautiful home just north of the Inn) to a religious group named “The International Order of the King's Daughters & Sons."

In 1904, a group of interested members met at Lakeside, OH. They felt they would benefit by studying together and becoming better acquainted with each other if there could be a place of meeting in the summer time. After four years at Lakeside, it was found that the location became too crowded and they began looking for a new location. At that time, Catawba Island was connected to the mainland by a bridge called the Harbor Bridge. It was decided this was a good location for the summer school. Many notables of the era came to the Island as speakers for these summer conventions. In 1908, two individuals became interested in the work at the summer school and offered to give a lot on which to build a house. Mr. Holt of Toledo and Dr. Yingling of Tiffin owned a tract of land they had named Rock Ledge, which they donated for the future home of the summer school.

Rock Ledge Inn, as it was named, was built and opened July 20, 1909. When first built, the Inn had a small dining room, but after a few years this was enlarged by building a new kitchen and making the old kitchen a part of the dining room. The third floor was empty and used for storage purposes. There was only one dormer window, but several years later two more dormers were added and the large third floor was then called the Dormitory and used for summer school guests.

The Summer School for Social Service continued for about five years. As time passed, it was found that there were two kinds of guests at the Inn—those who were members of the Order and those who came solely for a needed vacation. In 1914, the Inn changed its purpose to a Vacation Home for self-supporting women and girls. Rock Ledge Inn was self-supporting, but in the early years the guests had to use oil lamps and candles. In 1924, electricity was installed at the Inn and a sewage system was installed in 1926. In 1927, the front and sides of the Inn were covered with shingles and painted a lovely shade of gray—the color it remains today as homage to the original structure.

Many Circles and devoted members contributed through the years; the friends of Rock Ledge Inn are too numerous to be even mentioned. Items donated by these groups were: rugs, books, china, glassware and everything needed to make the Inn attractive to its original guests. The Vacation Home—Rock Ledge Inn—was not just a summer resort. The Inn always had its devotional service each morning, with prayer to God for guidance through the day and before every meal thanks were given for all the blessings received from Him. It is impossible to evaluate the great work done for those seeking a place to rest. Many tired and worn out women and girls were given another lease on life by spending a few weeks in this home.

The year 1930 found the Inn in good condition and was still filling a need as a Vacation Home for women and girls needing a vacation. They had a new bus to transport guests from Port Clinton to the Inn, a new garage and the old garage was made into an attractive cottage for the cook and her helper. The State Board rented the Inn for the summers of 1936 and 1937 to the Luella Cumings Home for Girls in Toledo. In 1938, the Inn was reopened and funds were raised to completely refurnish it. When you stay at the cottages, visit the gazebo between the driveway and Cottage 3 and you will find the “Bessie Blake Memorial Bench” which was dedicated on July 24, 1941. Mrs. Blake was one of the original Trustees of the Home. The bench is built of concrete and native stones. Sit a while and enjoy the beautiful setting from this bench!

Rock Ledge Inn was closed during World War II from 1942-1945, and never reopened as its original purpose again. It was voted by the convention in 1945 that Rock Ledge Inn be sold and the money placed in a fund to be called the “Rock Ledge Inn Fund;"the interest from this fund to be used to further the work of the Juniors in Ohio.

The 1950s found the Inn under new ownership, and the new owner operated a Fisherman’s Lodge on the site, adding the five brick cottages on the property that were used to house fishermen coming to the Lake. At one point, the property included 23 acres and 18 cottages. The property was operated in this manner until the late 1960s when it was again sold. The new owners attempted to sell the property to developers, but gave up in the early 1970s. The Inn, by this time, was considered practically condemned with holes through the walls and poor plumbing and electricity. The property was again bought by a family who rented the cottages for a few years before turning them into apartments. The family moved out of the Inn for a year in 1995 so that the Inn could be completely refurbished to include all new interior walls, new heating and cooling systems, all new doors, and a new 2nd floor layout which reduced the number of bedrooms to six, and increased the number of baths to six. The kitchen was moved to its original location and changed to a residential kitchen.

The Inn reopened as a Bed and Breakfast in 1995, and was put on the market again that year. The property was operated as a Bed and Breakfast and cabin rental business from 2000 to its sale at auction in 2007. The current owner is responsible for restoring the Inn to its original condition, including massive upgrades to the foundation, front veranda, and electrical and plumbing systems. The addition of a native quarry stone sign now marks the entrance of this beautiful lakefront property.

We hope you will share in this rare piece of Catawba Island history and enjoy your stay at the Scenic Rock Ledge Inn Cottages, on the beautiful western shores of Catawba Island.

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