The seed for the community was planted in 1869, a year after the first meeting, when the grounds were surveyed and laid out into building lots. More than 1,000 young trees were planted along newly created avenues named after bishops in the Methodist Episcopal Church. Thirteen summer cottages were built, mostly owned by Joseph Hillman and his associates. Round Lake’s heyday was ushered in during the 1880s as cottages for summer-long residents replaced makeshift tents for meeting-goers.
In 1872, lots were selling for $100 for a 99-year lease with yearly fees of $3 or $5.
Cottages ranged from large and expensive to “simplest wooden boxes but one remove from a canvas tent” according to an August 2, 1891 newspaper account. The smaller two room homes were often called “gem” cottages. No matter the size, most suggested hospitality with a living room in front, porches, and doors and windows left wide open.
The ornate Victorian-style architecture is what catches the eye of today’s visitors. Embellishments on cornices, gable, roofs, porches, and windows create the well-known “gingerbread” trim. The classic cottages, according to architectural accounts, were modeled on the camp meeting grounds at Martha’s Vineyard.
The Village Office has the original lot registers available to anyone who would like to research their homes and find out who leased them through the years.
Used by permission from Mary Hesson, David J. Rogowski & Marianne Comfort
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