[graphic header] National Register of Historic Places African American History Month

[photo]
A cluster of Fox Lake resort cottages
National Register photograph

Fox Lake:
Angola, Indiana

The Fox Lake resort community was developed specifically for African Americans in the 1930s, when such communities were quite rare. In the years between World War I and World War II, and for some time thereafter, African American were generally not welcomed to traditionally white resort communities. Fox Lake provided black families with a place of their own where they could escape the heat of the cites and enjoy the pleasures of summertime activities. The historic district contains 32 relatively modest lake cottages, most of which were constructed before World War II.

Fox Lake was the first and only resort catering to black families established in Indiana, and one of only a few in the Midwest. Similar resorts had been developed previously around lakes in Michigan, which offered numerous amusements and big-name entertainment. In 1924, a group of white businessmen purchased land along the south side of Fox Lake, and established the Fox Lake Land Company that developed and then subdivided the land to sell to black families. By the mid-1930s a dozen cottages had been built on randomly scattered lots, which were initially rented until all were sold within a few years. The original farmhouse on the property was converted into a small hotel, a barn was renovated into a restaurant and dance hall, and a bathhouse and pier were constructed (none of which remain today). Word of mouth about the community was spread by the land company and early property owners, who were anxious that the resort succeed and touted the joys of this tranquil oasis where African Americans were welcome. Other black families began buying lots and constructing their own cottages and rental properties throughout the 1930s. Most Fox Lake vacationers came from Indianapolis, although many others came from Toledo, Detroit, Chicago, and further cities, as well as smaller Indiana towns such as Marion and Fort Wayne.

[photo] One of the cottages situated along Fox Lake
National Register photograph

Community pumps supplied the vacationers with water for the first decade or so until owners began to dig individual wells, and electricity was not available until 1936. In 1938 the Fox Lake Property Owners' Association was organized, which set up trash removal, road maintenance, and organized activities. The "Sharks" and "Sharkettes" were members of the resort's swimming and water safety instruction program. Occasionally big-name musicians were booked for dances at the clubhouse, which was surrounded by tennis courts, horseshoe pits, and basketball hoops. Saddle horses were available until the early 1950s. Other activities included trap shooting matches, weekly Family Night at the restaurant, and Sunday school held on the beach under the trees.

Fox Lake was also a recreational destination for young African Americans who lived within driving distance. They came to swim at the beach, dance and socialize. During World War II, black troops stationed at Baer Field in Fort Wayne were invited to the resort during their free weekends. Numerous annual meetings of black fraternal organizations, churches and alumni groups were also held at the resort.

Today, Fox Lake is still a successful black community. Its traditions are still maintained by many second- and third-generation owners, who occupy a large number of the cottages.

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