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Sylvan Lake in Oakland County, Michigan — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
 

Sylvan Lake Inn

The Dream of Merrill B. Mills

 
 
Sylvan Lake Inn: The Dream of Merrill B. Mills Marker image. Click for full size.
By Joel Seewald, May 15, 2021
1. Sylvan Lake Inn: The Dream of Merrill B. Mills Marker
Inscription.  
Merrill B. Mills had many plans in the early 1890s
for his land around Sylvan Lake. His Sylvan Lake Improvement Association developed lakeside subdivisions and a resort hotel. The Sylvan Lake Inn was built in 1893 on this Point, including a dance pavilion, a bowling alley, billiard parlor and riding stables. To make it easier to visit, in 1895 Mills built an electric trolley line along Garland Avenue linking the Inn to Pontiac. Festivities were followed by financial difficulties, and the Inn burned to the ground in 1903.

"He and other Detroiters were full of enthusiasm over the project of establishing a great summer resort..."
October 27, 1903 newspaper article

You Auto Know
"The Inn was the most convenient and charming resort an hour's ride from Detroit." The Detroit Free Press, 1896.
 
Erected 2013 by MotorCities National Heritage Area, National Park Service.
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: EntertainmentParks & Recreational Areas
Sylvan Lake Inn: The Dream of Merrill B. Mills Marker — middle left image image. Click for full size.
Photo courtesy of the Greater West Bloomfield Historical Society
2. Sylvan Lake Inn: The Dream of Merrill B. Mills Marker — middle left image
Sylvan Lake Inn. By the time it was built in 1893, the cost had doubled to $25,000. An 1896 Fourth of July celebration included fireworks, demonstrations of Native American games and band music. The building's architect, W. B. Stratton, was also known for his design of the Pewabic Pottery studio in Detroit.
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Railroads & StreetcarsSettlements & Settlers. In addition, it is included in the MotorCities National Heritage Area series list. A significant historical date for this entry is October 27, 1903.
 
Location. 42° 37.136′ N, 83° 20.073′ W. Marker is in Sylvan Lake, Michigan, in Oakland County. Marker is on Pontiac Drive, on the right when traveling north. Marker is about 450 feet north of Ferndale. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 2456 Pontiac Drive, Keego Harbor MI 48320, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. New Life for Children (within shouting distance of this marker); Oakland County Boat Club (about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Great Escape (approx. Ό mile away); "X" Marks the Spot (approx. half a mile away); Learning and Growing (approx. half a mile away); Ordered by Mail - Sent by Rail (approx. half a mile away); "Body by Fisher" (approx. 0.7 miles away); Remembering Historic Railways (approx. 0.9 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Sylvan Lake.
 
Also see . . .  Sylvan Lake — A History. Information, photos, drawings, and floor plans of the Sylvan Lake Inn start on page 4. (Submitted on May 20, 2021, by Joel Seewald of Madison Heights, Michigan.) 
 
Sylvan Lake Inn: The Dream of Merrill B. Mills Marker Marker — lower left image image. Click for full size.
Photo courtesy of the Detroit Historical Commission
3. Sylvan Lake Inn: The Dream of Merrill B. Mills Marker Marker — lower left image
Merrill B. Mills, 1891. He was born in Detroit in 1854, and gained wealth through leadership and investment in many industries, including stoves, tobacco and insurance. He was an advocate for children's welfare, reflected in his family's donation of the Sylvan Lake Inn property to the Detroit Free Press Fresh Air Camp in 1906.
Sylvan Lake Inn: The Dream of Merrill B. Mills Marker Marker — top right images image. Click for full size.
Left: Photo courtesy of the Greater West Bloomfield Historical Society
4. Sylvan Lake Inn: The Dream of Merrill B. Mills Marker Marker — top right images
Left: One of the trolleys of the Pontiac & Sylvan Lake Railway, founded by Merrill B. Mills, on daily trips from Pontiac to Sylvan Lake.
Right: Today's Sylvan Lake Community Center opened in 2008 on the former site of the Sylvan Lake Inn and Detroit Free Press Fresh Air Camp.
Sylvan Lake Inn: The Dream of Merrill B. Mills Marker Marker — bottom right image image. Click for full size.
5. Sylvan Lake Inn: The Dream of Merrill B. Mills Marker Marker — bottom right image
The Pontiac Drive Bridge that carried visitors to the Inn in 1895 is still in use today.
Sylvan Lake Inn: The Dream of Merrill B. Mills Marker image. Click for full size.
By Joel Seewald, May 15, 2021
6. Sylvan Lake Inn: The Dream of Merrill B. Mills Marker
View of the marker looking toward the north from the Pontiac Drive bridge.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on May 20, 2021. It was originally submitted on May 20, 2021, by Joel Seewald of Madison Heights, Michigan. This page has been viewed 53 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on May 20, 2021, by Joel Seewald of Madison Heights, Michigan.

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Jun. 20, 2021