In the early years of the twentieth century, some 300 acres around Lake Hopatcong’s Prospect Point were owned by the Schwarz family. Operating as the Prospect Point Land Improvement Company, the Schwarz’s first rented the land out for campsites with the ultimate goal to develop the land for cottages. One of their first acts was to build a large boathouse, which was completed in August 1906.
With the intent of making it a community gathering point for the local campsites, a piano was purchased and the upper floor of the boathouse was reserved for dancing. The Schwarz’s also drilled a well by the boathouse to provide fresh water to campers and residents of the area. The 1906 Lake Hopatcong Breeze reported that “Camps are getting numerous on the Point, owing to the pleasant sites and the good water.”
Throughout the teens, bungalows began to be developed at Prospect Point with the boathouse serving as the dominating structure in the area. In the 1920’s, it remained a local meeting place while being converted to retail use. In 1923, the Prospect Point Boat House was advertised as “The Ideal Spot for bathing, fishing and rowing.” A Russian Tea Room was advertised as well as George Ehret’s beer, “the best beer in America.” Julius Spielberg was the proprietor. By the mid 1920’s, the boathouse was being referred to as “The Shadow Lawn” and featured fudge and other goodies.
Big change came in 1939 when Mark Schwarz, Jr. opened an entirely new business in the boathouse. The July 8, 1939 Lake Hopatcong Breeze reported “Schwarz Jr. is having considerable success with the new gas station for boats opened at the Prospect Point Boat Yard. Young Schwarz was on the Breeze [as Staff Photographer] last year but his new business venture robbed us of his valuable services.” In 1940, the Breeze reported on a new 18-foot yacht under construction at the Prospect Point Boat Yard.
In 1946 Prospect Point Boat Yard was sold to Sam Sutphen, who immediately undertook boat building and engine repairs. In 1948, Sutphen decided he needed more room and built a new shop behind the boathouse. This was followed in 1949 by the construction of a new storage building which could hold 60 to 70 boats for winter storage. In the ensuing years, Sutphen turned the boatyard into one of the most popular on the lake. In 1963, he “modernized” the original boathouse to create a new showroom. It was at this time that a floor was built over the water and a large picture window was added. It was also during the 1960’s that many lake residents first met Wayne Mocksfield, who worked for Sutphen and would eventually own a marina of his own on the lake.
In addition to building boats for sale, one of Sutphen’s most memorable accomplishments was building the “Defender” fireboat for the lake in 1960. Replacing the “Perley Boomer,” which had sunk the previous year, Sutphen built the mahogany boat at his own expense to perform rescue work and fight lakefront and boat fires. The Defender and a smaller fireboat were landmarks at the Prospect Point Boat Yard for years.
In the mid-1970’s, Sutphen sold the boatyard to Tommy Wear, another employee. Wear expanded the operation over the years, eventually acquiring a boat facility in Woodport which he dubbed Prospect Point North. In 2005, Wear sold the original boatyard at Prospect Point to Béla and Alice Szigethy. It was completely redone over that winter and its exterior was restored to closely resemble the original Prospect Point Boat House. Renamed the Main Lake Market, in 2006 it became the first operating lakefront store in many years, featuring sandwiches, ice cream, refreshments, as well as souvenirs and boat accessories. Even the upstairs of the boathouse, which had been closed for years, was restored and once again opened as a lovely spot to enjoy coffee, tea and snacks. Some eighty years later, the boathouse has come full circle and is once again a center for lake life as the Main Lake Market.
Copyright 2009 Lake Hopatcong Historical Museum