About Gun Lake
Gun Lake is located in Yankee Springs and Orangeville Township in Barry County, and in Wayland and Martin townships in Allegan County. It is 2,680 acres in size, covering more than four sections of the area. The lake is approximately 11 miles west of Hastings, 27 miles southeast of Grand Rapids, and 32 miles northeast of Kalamazoo.
By Courtesy of Bay Pointe Inn & Restaurant
In the 1800s, Gun Lake was known as a fishing haven for anglers from the Midwest. The lake and surrounding forests made the area a sportsmen’s paradise for the Ottawa, Pottawatomie and Chippewa Indians. A recognized leader of the Ottawa Indians of Southern Michigan was the brave and powerful Chief Noonday, whose name remains on Gun Lake area roads and trails as a testament to his strength and character.
In 1885, Charles & Elizabeth Morrell bought a farm on Gun Lake. The Morrell’s took in boarders and rented fishing boats. Steamboats on the lake offered moonlight cruises, sparking many a new courtship. In 1889, the Morrell’s built a separate resort with sleeping quarters for their guests. After about 10 years of successful resort life, they sold the property to Edmund Noble.
Gun Lake has long been a vacation destination. Back in 1895, as many as 5,000 people would attend a 5-day farmers picnic, setting up camps around the lake, celebrating with endless music and square dancing while traveling back and forth by steamboat to other Gun Lake resorts. In 1899, Mr. Noble sold the property to Austin and Frankie Dwight. These former Chicago residents, far too familiar with the fast pace of the windy city, longed for serenity. When the Dwight found the peace and tranquility they were searching for in Michigan on 350 quiet acres surrounding Gun Lake, they bought the property. In 1902, the Dwight moved an old house across the street and started building their summer home, which came to be known as the “Dwight Villa.”
The Dwights’ summer retreat on this beautiful, wooded site was complete in 1906. The two-and-one-half-story home, in Colonial Revival style, featured a full-length porch and a natural exterior of both cobblestone and wood shingles, with a massive fieldstone chimney stack. Since the couple loved to entertain, they had the enormous living room designed to accommodate in grand style. The Dwight threw lavish parties and dances and hosted musical performances on the lake. Dwight Villa came to be the entertainment center of Gun Lake.
Sweeping lawns, curving driveways, hedges, walnut trees, and evergreens adorned the property, along with flowering plants en masse. Mr. Dwight’s hobby was cultivating the Dahlias which dominated the gardens; at one time it was said he had over two hundred different varieties.
After the Dwight passing, this house once revered for its grace and charm stood empty for a good part of 30 years. In 1978 Roy and Jackie Martin purchased the neglected property then being run as a campground. After a complete renovation of the landmark home, the Martins opened Bay Pointe Restaurant in 1983 filled with fine furnishings from the Dwight era. By 1984 this architectural showpiece was admitted to both the State and Federal Register of Historic buildings for its importance in American history and culture.
Since that time, thousands of families have enjoyed many a remarkable dinner there, thrown hundreds of memorable weddings on the grounds and watched breathtaking sunsets as they strolled the shores of this beautiful West Michigan getaway.
By Courtesy of Chicago Point Resort
In June 1921, the Slater brothers from Chicago bought hillside property on the east side of Gun Lake, appropriately naming it Chicago Point. Wally, Gus and George Slater owned Slater Storage and Slater’s Fireproof Storage Company in Chicago.
At that time a small cottage, the “Crow’s Nest”, was on the property. Interestingly, the cottage had been purchased as a home kit from the 1917 Sears Roebuck catalog for $795.00. Sometime after the house was built, a screened-in wrap around porch was added.
When the Slater brothers owned the property, a large six bedroom house, “Journey’s End”, was built.
In October 1961, Chicago Point was purchased by LJ and Florence Strayer. During the early sixties LJ and sons, Donald and Norman, developed the property and constructed several two and three bedroom lakefront cottages, and the property became Chicago Point Resort.
Since 1972, Donald & Marguerite and Norman & Jerry Strayer, along with their families, continue to accommodate tourists and guests while preserving the casual natural beauty and charm of rural country culture.
The “Journey’s End” (six bedroom house with the red steps) and the “Crow’s Nest” (hilltop cottage #11) look much the same today as they did during the Roaring Twenties.
The resort has long been known for its beautiful setting and friendly atmosphere. Many of the families that vacation at Chicago Point Resort has been returning for 20-50+ years with 2nd, 3rd, and 4th generations. Every year renters come from multiple states for vacations as well as to enjoy family and friend events and reunions.