These well-known and popular camps were originally built by Asa Lerned, a Civil War veteran from Lawrence, Massachusetts. In 1896, Mr Lerned built what was the store, ice house, boathouse and the two cottages on the southern end of the property. In the next few years he built 7 more cottages, two stables, a bandstand and a dance hall. These camps were named G.A.R. camps, or Grand American Republic. Mr. Lerned named the camps after Civil War generals, except the first one, which he called "Admiral Dewey". The others were named Generals Miles, Sheridan, Needham, Grant, Hooker, Anderson, Banks and Butler. Each camp had a picture of the officer for which it was named.
In 1917, Mr. & Mrs. Charles Meader, who had worked for Mr. Lerned, bought the camps and ran them, as well as dances at the dance hall, for many years. Their son, Waldo, was the last to operate them. Many people remember past days at "Meader's Casino" on the water.
A cottage with 4 spring beds, complete, cost $1.25 per day. Milk and Ice were free. The cottages were furnished with furniture, cook stove, dishes, silver knives and forks, spoons and lamps. Fuel and lights were also furnished. One row boat per cottage. Parties renting cottages had to furnish sheets, pillow slips, towels and napkins.
The stage left Springvale at 12 o'clock every day for the Lake and G.A.R. Camp. Early advertisements toted "the Lake is surrounded by splendid scenery and mountains, is five miles long and one mile wide and good fishing and bathing is one of its best features. A steamer on the lake carries passengers ten miles for 10 cents. Groceries, ice, etc., delivered at the cottages every day. Take stage marked G.A.R. Camp. Fare from Springvale to the camp (five miles), 50 cents. Children half price. Good black bass, lake trout, horn pout, pickerel, brook trout and land-locked salmon fishing." In the picture below, the largest of the buildings (with the American Flag) is the Dance Hall.
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