History of Cottages at the Water's Edge

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Sandy Beach StoreLate 1800's to Depression: The Lake House (Stop 141) was once a barn! In remodeling, a piece of barn fence was discovered in a wall with someone's initials engraved on it. The foundation of the house has some old barn beams in it. A store was opened in this home then. This home served as a stop for the Lake Erie Interurban Train that operated from the late 1800's until the late 1930's.

1926 - 1928: The Walker family owned and operated this business during this time frame. One of the children, now in her mid-90's, has written of their wonderful life here in the countryside. It was this family that traded with the following family in 1928.

Depression (1930's): The current owners were fortunate to meet the lady (Thelma) who lived here as a young girl during the depression. Her parents were from Lakewood, Ohio and needed to find work. An ad appeared in the newspaper requesting trading this business for a house in Cleveland. So they traded and Thelma moved here with her parents and brother. Thelma describes how quiet and boring her life became after moving from the city. They operated the store and also rented camping spaces in the orchards that surrounded them for 25 cents a night! People out of work would walk the highway and her parents gave out sandwiches when they could.

Thelma's father decided to build her a small cottage (later to become Cottage 3) so that her friends from Lakewood could come and visit. She was never able to do so as the cottage quickly became a rental, an additional source of income for the family. He continued building Cottages 4, 5, 6, and 7. They eventually sold to the Lloyd Moats. Recently, Bill Shover stopped in to tell us that his mother rented the house and operated the cottages from 1951 - 53.

Therese's mother, Matilda Simon, came here with here girlfriends in the mid-30's, perhaps when Thelma's parents still owned it. The young people from Cleveland came out to Vermilion to the dance hall at Crystal Beach or Cedar Point and stayed in cottages.

1953 -1963: Therese's grandparents on her father's side (Ida and Louie Miller) purchased this property in 1953, calling it Miller's Sandy Beach and they maintained the store and rental business. Therese's father and family did not visit here during the grandparent's ownership because they lived too far away and were running a dairy farm. Cottage 8 was built during their time here.

Sy Sans Beach Motel1963 -1985: In 1963, Therese's aunt and uncle on her mother's side of the family (Frank and Helen Simon), bought the property. This included Cottages 1 - 9 and 200 ft. of lake frontage. (Cottage 9 was already here and we are not sure who built it. Perhaps the owners between Thelma and Millers.) Frank and Helen did the heavy task of remodeling - putting in indoor plumbing, windows, etc. The vintage kitchenettes that you see in the interior pictures of the cottages were bought from a brother in Lorain, who was closing some apartments, and installed in all of the cottages. They also did a lot of lakefront work to prevent erosion. The Simons called their business Sy Sans Beach (Sy for Frank who Helen called Simon, and Sans for the sandy beach). The Simons ran this business without a lot of help from 1963 to 1985. Thank goodness Frank was a carpenter and Helen knew how to run the business!

Our family

1985 - Present: In 1985, Helen and Frank sold this property to Dave and Therese Hoffman (Therese was the niece of Helen and Frank.) They moved here with their two small children, Marie and John, and took over a well established business. This consisted of Cottages 1 - 9 only. Guests still come who came in the 50's. Of course, they are the grandparents now! Helen taught Therese the cycle of the business and how to clean cottages! Therese was a nurse by profession and intertwined her career with managing the cottages and two children. Dave continued to work in the sales industry and managing the grounds work here. Another baby came along, Paul in 1986, so Therese managed by carrying the baby with her as she cleaned in the season of 1986! Later the cottage business name was changed to Cottages at the Water's Edge.

A couple of years later, the property to the east of here became for sale so Dave and Therese added this to their business. An old farmhouse (remodeled to be the current Guesthouse) along with some very old seasonal cottages were on the new property. These include Cottage 10, Rose and about 7 seasonal cottages.

Dave has continued to improve the grounds every year including lots of work on the lakefront. He receives many compliments on his work. Flowers and new trees abound on the property each season.

Therese likes to work on the interiors, always looking for vintage furnishings so that guests can experience stepping back in time when they are here.

So that's the story and it will continue to unfold over the coming years!

2017: The bunkhouse was remodeled and is now our newest and most upscale cottage, we call it the Beach House. In September of the same year, Dave and Therese's son, Paul was married here to Amy. It was a beautiful lake side wedding and their guests were able to stay in the cottages for the long weekend.

A new chapter: And things did unfold! In the Fall of 2018, Paul and his wife Amy decided that they would leave active duty military life to come to Vermilion and be closer to both families. In May of 2019, Amy drove across the country from Montana to be here for spring cleaning. Paul joined her in June, when his active duty ended. Paul works in finance and with the Air National Guard and Amy is managing the cottages.

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