Sylvan Lake Inn

Object ID: 2013-001-030

Date: 1893


In 1893 Merrill B. Mills, Mansfield Shelly, George Barbour, and J. Blair Simpson decided to establish a resort at Sylvan Lake. Merrill B. Mills built a summer hotel on a hilly point separating the two parts of the lake. He did his best to encourage land sales by offering a free weekend at his hotel for those who brought a lot in the subdivision. There was a golf course, a riding stable, furnished with saddle horses, a bathing beach, a bowling alley and even a billiard parlor. The center of the resort, a hotel, was erected on the present site of the Community Center for $25,000. The grounds were lighted by electricity in connection with the interurban railway. In Addition to the hotel, owners planned a community containing 1300 building lots, six public parks, a school house, a depot and church sites. In 1903 the Sylvan Lake Inn burned down. For many years, the family of Merrill Mills gave the Detroit Free Press a restricted deed to the property formerly occupied by Mills’ summer hotel. Around 1906, Mills donated this property to The Detroit Free Press for use as the Fresh Air Camp.