JEFFERSON – Lake Hopatcong has a history for being home to some very famous people. There’s Miss Lotta Crabtree, the celebrated vaudeville actress. Her home on Edgmere Avenue in Mount Arlington stands today as it did in the early 1900s. Then there is Joe Cook, another renowned actor of the 1920s and 1930s, who played host to the biggest names in the entertainment industry at his lake home, Sleepless Hollow. And Milton Berle who spent many summers at the Alamac Hotel.
On Thursday evening, July 10, before a capacity crowd in the Jefferson House banquet room, Marty Kane, president of the Lake Hopatcong Historical Society, narrated a visual program about other famous people who called the lake their home.
There was the Pilcher family; father Lewis Stephen was a renowned surgeon who summered at the lake for 56 seasons and his son, Lewis Frederick, a professor and architect who designed the Adirondack-style Lake Hopatcong Yacht Club.
Among the many authors and poets that gravitated to the lake was Rex Beach, a very successful adventure novelist who often wrote about Alaska, and who spent his summers at his Lake Hopatcong home, Mañana. Poet Edwin Markham had a cottage on Lakeside Boulevard and palled around with Hudson Maxim.
According to Kane, “sons of industries” were well represented at the lake: makers of fine hats, parasols and umbrellas, early pharmaceuticals and other leaders in industry flocked to the lake.
Albert Tilt, who owned a silk mill in Paterson, built a cottage in 1889, Bella Vista, in renowned Breslin Park on Windemere Avenue in Mount Arlington. The cottage was recently sold and had to be torn down but plans are in the works by the new owners to rebuild an exact replica, said Kane.
While the wealthy industrialists settled in Mount Arlington and Nolan’s Point, the Northwood section of the lake was known as an actor’s colony.
“It was a kind of village by itself with the Northwood Inn being the town hall,” said Kane as he switched through the slides of old photos, post cards and press clippings.
Its most famous resident was Bud Abbott, who stayed in Northwood until 1933, the year he teamed up with Lou Costello and made it big.
Kane finished his retrospective of "the other" famous lake people with a nod to the present, including the acknowledgement of renowned artist Greg Hildebrandt who lives in a house that is built around the historic Sans Souci Castle at Elba Point.
The next historic presentation, Thomas Edison Returns to Lake Hopatcong, is scheduled for Saturday, September 20. It will be held at St. Jude Parish in Hopatcong. For tickets and information call 973-398-2616 or send an email to email@example.com.