A cottage to ‘beat all other cottages’ — Grand Haven’s Highland Park cottages rich in history

In her book, The Historic Cottages of Highland Park, Karen Lowe explores the history of this unique enclave along the shores of Lake Michigan. Highland Park sits near the Grand Haven State Park with Lake Avenue to the north and Grand Avenue to the south. Our series will offer excerpts from the book. For more information or to buy a copy of the book, visit lulu.com or any local bookseller.

The Kil-Kare cottage was built in 1891 by Charles and Jerusha Boyden. According to the Grand Haven Tribune, when it was built it was the cottage ’…that beat all other cottages’

Charles Boyden I (1842-1897) was born in Onondaga County, New York in 1842 and got his start in business by selling Soule’s Pills in the rural areas of that state. After serving in the New York Cavalry during the Civil War, Boyden came to Grand Haven in 1868 and purchased the Hunting Mill property. In 1871, with Healy C. Akeley as his partner, he started the Boyden & Akeley Shingle and Sawmill on the south side of the Grand River channel between Second and Third Streets, which became the world’s largest shingle mill and produced the best known and most popular shingle known at that time. In 1881, the Grand Haven Lumber Company was organized with Charles as President. He bought out all the shareholders and was sole owner until it closed in 1890. The company included three sawmills, one shingle mill, extensive tracts of pinelands, a logging railroad and lumberyards. He became President and Treasurer of the Boyden & Wyman Lumber company at Neelyville, Missouri on Iron Mountain Road, and was heavily involved in the Keystone Land & Cattle company in the Dakotas, which owned over 20,000 acres of hardwood timberlands. Charles Boyden served on the Grand Haven City Council from 1882 to 1883.

A post card from Highland Park, Grand Haven.

The oldest existing plat for Highland Park.

Jerusha Mitchell Boyden was a school teacher and cousin to Senator Mitchell of
Pennsylvania. She was born in 1850 and married Charles Boyden in 1876. The Boydens had two sons (John and Charles II) and one daughter, Maud who married Robert Graham Macfie of MacFie & Son Lumbar Company of Grand Haven (See Go Blew cottage).
KIL-KARE cottage in Highland Park, Grand Haven, ca. 1900-1910.
In 1897, Boyden was injured at his mill in Neelyville, Missouri and died two days later.
Jerusha continued to live in the family home at 301 South Fifth (now known as the Boyden House) until her death in 1913. Both Charles and Jerusha are buried in the impressive Boyden mausoleum in Lake Forest Cemetery.

The Ship’s Lantern

The Ship’s Lantern was built in 1891 for $175. The wood used in building the cottage was milled on the beach below before it was hauled up the hill in order to construct the cottage. The first owners of Ship’s Lantern were Dr. John Reynolds (a local physician and one of the 50 original incorporators of Highland Park) and Captain Jack Walker, who rented the cottage out during the season. Walker, who built the first bathhouse and refreshment stand on the beach on the site of the Bil-Mar (see p.14), became sole proprietor of the cottage in 1892.

In 1895, Walker sold the cottage to Albert and Florence (Carpenter) Fiero of Joliet, Illinois. The Fiero’s named the cottage Sunflower and immediately expanded the footprint of the cottage with “$300 of additional improvements”, according to the Grand Haven Tribune. Albert Fiero (1849-1906) was a renowned civil engineer and inspector of railroads in Illinois, as well as a partner with Robert W. Hunt & Co. of Chicago.

Thomas Hotchkiss once owned the Ship's Lantern cottage in Highland Park.In 1899, Thomas Hotchkiss of Joliet, Illinois and his wife Margaret became the new owners of the cottage. Thomas Hotchkiss was the general manager of the Phoenix Horse and Shoe Company in Joliet, Illinois. Margaret (Phelps) Hotchkiss was the daughter of Captain Egbert and Isabella ‘Belle’ Phelps, who owned Hillside cottage next door. Highland Park folklore has it that when the Hotchkiss family and their guests arrived at the cottage for the season, a uniformed servant with white gloves would meet them on the front porch, offering them refreshments on a large tray.

Thomas and Margaret Hotchkiss had three children: Marjorie, Isabel, and Phelps.

The Hotchkiss family owned Ship’s Lantern for nearly 80 years and were responsible for naming the cottage The Ship’s Lantern, a name which the cottage has been known as for 120 years. Perhaps this was a tribute to original owner and longtime Highland Park custodian Captain Jack Walker.

Karen Lowe
Prior to her election to Grand Haven City Council, Karen Lowe served as commissioner on the city’s Historic Conservation District Commission. She holds a Masters in Business Administration degree from Washington University and a Bachelor’s of Science degree in nursing from the University of Illinois. Recently retired, she was a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers and a vice president and general manager at IBM.
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