June 30, 2002....Our tour begins at the south gate, Cedar Lake Bible Conference Center. The gate is off Lauerman and when visiting, they do request that you enter this way. The first structure you come upon is the South Gate Chaple.
South Gate Chaple, built in the 1950's.
Looking east from South Gate Chaple. The hotel is the closer building. Torrey Auditorium, also known as, The Monon Dance Pavillion, is the other building in the background.
After parking the car, as luck would have it, I stumbled upon a gentleman who provided a brief tour of the park. Mr. Dave McCauley is one of the Activities Coordinators and although not briefed in the history of the former park, Dave pointed out several highlights. Dave also opened the Pavillion for me so I could photograph in interior.
Torrey Auditorium/ Monon Dance Pavillion, circa 2002. Built originally in 1897. South facade.
Monon Pavillion, circa 2002, east facade. Picture taken from northeast of the building.
Monon Pavillion, circa 2002, north facade.
Left: Interior of the Pavillion. Roof trusses are original. When building was remodeled the dormers were closed in, but according to Mr. McCauley the original roof trusses are still in use. Looking to the north end of the building. Right: Looking to the south end of the building.
More detailed look at the trusses and roofing. Inside, one could almost "hear turn of the century" music and see couples dancing. It was a grand structure in it's day and is indeed still a beautiful building. On, January 3, 2001, Monon Park Dancing Pavillion, 13701 Lauerman St., Cedar Lake, Indiana, was added to the list of National Historic Landmarks. It's not hard to understand why.
Outside the Pavillion, two more historic buildings were pointed out. First was Hickory Lodge and the second, Lakeview Lodge. Lakeview Lodge is the only original Monon Park building still standing. Mr. McCauley stated that the bowling alleys were still there. He said that new flooring was installed right over the alleys when the building was remodeled into living quarters.
Left: Lakeview Lodge, looking north. Right: Another view, looking north. The lodge sits northeast of the Pavillion, closer to the lakeshore.
Left and Right: Hickory Lodge. Hickory Lodge dates back to 1924, after the park was taken over by the Cedar Lake Conference Association. It is one of the older buildings, but it does not date back to Monon Park.
After pointing out Lakeview and Hickory Lodges, Dave and I parted company. I thanked him for the tour and access to the Pavillion. Based on a postcard I have of the old Sigler/ Monon Hotel and accounts from other sources, I disagree on the location of the former hotel. Dave pointed out the current hotel complex, northwest of the Pavillion, as the former location. After looking over the postcard again, I would have to disagree. The hotel sat on a bluff, which I presume overlooked Cedar Lake. The Glendenning Hotel, which was basically cut in two and reassembled on the park property, once occupied the site now the home of the new Rest-A-While Hotel. Descriptions of the hotel and park place the dancing pavillion "behind" the hotel. The location pointed out by Dave sits west of the Pavillion and there are no bluffs. There is a brand new conference building and hall to the east of the pavillion which sits upon a bluff, overlooking Cedar Lake. When you look out the east windows, you can pretty much come to the conclusion that somewhere around this spot the Monon Hotel once stood. Below the hall is clear, flat tract of land between the bluff and the lake shore. Obviously the site of the former right of way. This was verified by an older gentleman, who walked away before I could get his name. He said, "Yup, that's where the old Monon ran. Right along the lake."
New Dining Hall and Conference Center. This building, built in 1996 now sits close to the approximate location of the old Sigler/ Monon Park Hotel, on the bluff overlooking Cedar Lake.
Left and Right: Old right of way. Pictures taken from a deck, halfway down the bluff. Left: Looking towards the north. Right: Looking towards the south.
Left and Right: Old right of way, grade level. Pictures taken grade level. On left side of photo is the conference hall, where I feel the Sigler/ Monon Hotel once stood. Left: Looking towards the north. Right: Looking towards the south.
Right of way, north. This picture was taken looking north from the conference grounds property.
Right of way, south. This picture was taken looking south from the conference grounds property.
Though it has changed dramatically over the last one hundred plus years, the spirit of Monon Park still exists today. All one has to do is walk through the park and imagine how it looked, and sounded, back in 1987 when the dance pavilion was brand new. People tripping the light fantastic to melodies of the day. Or, stroll down by the lake and imagine the people enjoying the lake, waiting for the many boats that came and went from the pier. Waiting for one of the many trains which picked up and dropped off visitors and guest. The park is still a very peaceful place. On my visit, I found quiet and serenity wherever I chose to walk. People were friendly and helpful. Many of the "old timers" spoke of the old days, but the majority of guests were fascinated when I told them of the park’s heritage and history. On, January 3, 2001, Monon Park Dancing Pavilion, 13701 Lauerman St., Cedar Lake, Indiana, was added to the list of National Historic Landmarks. On the day of my visit, there was no marker, or plague, designating the historic nature of the pavilion. I hope that the Conference Grounds will one day recognize this prestigious designation with a marker of some kind. By giving the building a complete "make over", The Conference Grounds has taken steps to make sure that this historic building and the spirit of Monon Park will last for another hundred years.
Monon Main | 1952 Lowell Train Wreck |