August 1966 - UAW Officers approved site for purchase.
January 1967 - purchase completed.
November 1967 - construction started.
Construction of the Main Buildings took almost 3 years.
Log cabin buildings were the only buildings on the property when purchased.
Lou Maxon, a Detroit advertising executive had the log cabins built.
Main MaxonLodge was built in 1932 as a hunting lodge.
Many auto executives and show people stayed at the Maxon Lodge. Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball honeymooned here.
Harry Bennett of Ford delayed a bargaining session because they were going to spend a few days at this fabulous place. At the next meeting Mr. Bennett showed pictures of the place to the Union people. Walter said "in jest," "after the revolution we will own that place."
In January 1967, the UAW purchased the Maxon lodge along with 750 acres, and took out an option on 250 additional acres. The UAW purchased another 200 acres in 1989 from the Sugar Estate which adjoins the Hilltop area. We now own approximately 1,200 acres.
The beach is called "Hongore Bay.
Black Lake covers about 10,100 acres and is 3 miles wide and 6 miles long, with a shoreline of 27 miles. It is called Black Lake because of its depth of up to 50 feet, making the water look very black.
Fish - walleye, perch, pike and sturgeon.
Trees - many planted by the C.C.C. and are white, red, scotch and jackpine, cedar, oak, maple, aspen and hemlock.
All utility systems on the Center are underground.
The treatment plant covers six acres and is a blender rather than a chemical treatment system. There are five one-acre lagoons. Lift stations around the Center pump all sewage away from the lake in order to eliminate pollution.
Fireplace hearths are from Canada and French Creek, Pennsylvania.
Crab Orchard Stone - 15,000 tons of it came from Wisconsin.
The Gymnasium/Auditorium was built first and can seat 1,200 people.
All bronze work was cast in Italy and designed by Vivalli.
Oskar Stonorov was the principle architect of the buildings.
Roofs are strong enough to carry five feet of snow.
The laminated beams and columns came from the West Coast. They vary in diameter from 9 to 16 inches and some are 40 feet long. The columns were turned on the lathes used for masts of sailing ships.
The longest beam is in the Dining Room and is 72 feet long.
The red cedar was used both indoors and outdoors.
Doors and wood trim are birch.
Wood paneling in the sleeping rooms is pecan.
Student corridor railings are red birch.
Hotel can sleep 300.
Dining Room will seat 300.
Everything that looks like marble is actually granite.
The Japanese arch bridge is pre-cast cement and its bronze sculptured light is called Man and Woman.
Bronze fireplace in the Dining Room has a Latin inscription that is the motto of Michigan: "If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you."
The handrails on the staircase in the Dining Room are made of teak.
The large black stone outside the Dining Room is lava stone and was a gift to the Center from the quarry in Wisconsin. It weighs 300 pounds.
The Hub, or Zodiac Room in the connecting hallways from the student units to Education and the Gym area, displays the signs of the zodiac on the birthdate of Walter Reuther - - September 1,1907. This was a gift to the Center from the Construction Trades who built the Center.
The bronze sculpture at the fork of the road to the Main Lobby is called "Children of the World.
The swimming pool is Olympic-size and is heated to a comfortable temperature. The saunas are located in the dressing rooms and an exercise room is available for the adult guests of the Center.
There is a 51-site campground for the use of UAW members and retirees. All sites have full hook-up of water, sewer & electric.
The Inn was originally a horse stable.
The Old Lodge is of whole log construction and has hand-hewn beams and the stair treads are half log cuts as in the mantle over the fireplace. The furniture in the old section is from the Maxon era and features hard rock maple chairs and tables, beds and chests.
On May 9, 1970, the plane carrying Walter and May Reuther, their bodyguard and the architect Oskar Stonorov to the Center crashed in nearby Pellston. All (six) were killed in the crash, including the pilots. Walter and May Reuther's ashes were spread in a simple ceremony atop a hill across from the Main Lobby area. This area is marked by the flame in the Japanese lantern, donated to the Center by Japanese Trade Unions in their memory.
Above the Main Lobby is a pictorial history of Walter and May Reuther. The plaque near the Japanese lantern for the Reuther's reads:
"There is no greater calling than to serve your brother, There is no greater satisfaction than to have done it well."
Walter P. Reuther and May Reuther In Brotherhood and Peace
Walter's brother, Roy Reuther's ashes are on the hill also. His plaque reads:
"Look to the stars - - - Let us dream our hopes and aspirations for that better tomorrow."
Roy L. Reuther In Freedom and Social Justice"
In early January 2002 I received some information by email. I found it interesting and decided to post it here as a thank you to the sender for her contributions. It read as follows:
----- Original Message -----
From: "Ruth Fox"
Sent: Tuesday, January 08, 2002 10:14 PM
Subject: Black Lake property
Hi Mr. Miller,
I came upon your website detailing the development of the Black Lake
property and found the information very interesting. For the sake of
nostalgia, I wanted to clarify one item. My father, Lou Maxon, did have
the main lodge (and several of the other buildings, which may or may not
remain -- it has been decades since I was on the property) built. However, it was
never a hunting lodge. In fact, when my dad owned the property there was a
perimeter fence around the hundreds of acres, with "No Hunting" signs
posted on the painted fence posts at regular intervals. My father would
put out salt licks for the deer on a ball field, and we all loved to see the
deer who would visit the site. Not a major point from your perspective,
perhaps, but the property was never used for hunting -- though I remember
that a deer was once killed by a poacher on the property. We had wonderful
times on that beautiful property and I remember it in vivid detail and
with great affection.
Sincerely, Ruth Fox
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