The hometown heroes who made Highland Park possible

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 or any local bookseller.

When Highland Park was incorporated in 1886, there were 50 businessmen who, as original investors, purchased shares at $25 per share. Most of the men held one to three shares each. Of the two hundred shares available, Dwight Cutler I had the most at 12 and his son, Dwight Cutler II, held eight. Cutler’s brother-in-law, Nathaniel V. Slayton, held another six. To encourage the building of cottages, several of the original incorporators along with some well-known local businessmen, led by example and further invested in Highland Park by building a cottage themselves.

These cottagers included Dwight Cutler, Arthur Kromer, Charles Boyden, Thomas Parish, Joseph Koeltz, Willard C. Sheldon, William Savidge, George McBride, and John MacFie.

Beech Holme

In the early 1900s, Beech Holme was the most photographed cottage in Highland Park, likely due to its location at the former entrance to the Park. As it happens, the lot where the cottage Beech Holme stands is perhaps the most historically significant lot in all of Highland Park for a different reason altogether. For several years prior to the incorporation of Highland Park Association in 1886, the Kromer family of Grand Rapids regularly tented on the very 'ridge' now occupied by Beech Holme cottage. Arthur Kromer, one of the 50 original investors in Highland Park, erected a cottage on this site in the summer of 1887. It was the second cottage to be built in Highland Park, after Loch Hame. Kromer and his father owned and operated a hardware store (N B Kromer & Son) in Grand Rapids, which sold stoves and tinware. Kromer owned the cottage for 17 years until he sold it and assigned his land lease to Mrs. Angie Holmes, wife of Alba Holmes. The Holmes’ renovated the cottage in 1904, which sadly burned down in a fire just a few years later. The current cottage was completely re-built in 1907 by the Holmes family, who christened it Beech Holme.

The oldest existing plat for Highland Park.

Lucky Lodge
Built in June of 1891, the first owner of Lucky Lodge was Thomas Parish and wife, Ruth. Thomas Parish is perhaps best known as the man responsible for introducing telephones to Grand Haven in 1881. As an agent for the Michigan Bell Telephone Company, Parish “…began stringing lines throughout the city connecting principal businesses and residences to one another as well as the long distance connections to Muskegon and Grand Rapids”

Thomas Parish was also one of the original incorporators of Highland Park and was the very first president of the Highland Park Association. Born in Canada, Parish served in the Michigan Cavalry Lancers during the Civil War, ultimately relocating to Grand Haven in 1880. Additionally, Thomas Parish was secretary and treasurer of the Parish Manufacturing Company and served as Grand Haven Postmaster in 1889 as well as from 1894-1898.

Thomas’s first wife died in 1889. In 1890, he married Ruth (née Beckwith) Hancock, who was also widowed. Ruth Parish would go on to become ‘instrumental in organizing Grand Haven’s Women’s Club in 1891.’

After selling their cottage in November of 1906 to Alba and Angie Holmes (owners of Beech Holme), Thomas and Ruth Parish moved to Seattle, Washington to be near Ruth’s family. Thomas Parish became tax commissioner of that state until he passed away in 1913.

In an adjacent lot (New Lot #56/ Old Lot #78) to the south of Lucky Lodge was a cottage called Shady Nook, built by George and Martha McBride in 1916. The McBrides were owners of Cozy Corner cottage and managed the Highland Park Hotel from 1899 to 1908.

Shady Nook burned down sometime between 1930 and 1950 and was not rebuilt. When it burned down, it left “Lucky Lodge” barely singed, making its name all the more appropriate. Since then the owners of cottage next door acquired the lot and expanded their cottage with what could be called the ‘Shady Nook’ addition to Lucky Lodge.

Alba and Angie Holmes and family owned three cottages in Highland Park from the early 1900’s through the early 1920’s: Lucky Lodge, Beech Holme, and Rest Haven.

Was it really luck?

The second owner of both Lucky Lodge and Beech Holme, Alba Holmes, was interested in fire prevention engineering and even patented a ball and joint for water pipes in 1884. Distinguished in his field, Holmes was a civil engineer who served as president of the Michigan Association of Surveyors and Engineers in 1904 and later as secretary from 1907-1912. Holmes was also captain of the Grand Haven Fire Co. (volunteer) in 1877, the year it was organized.

So…one has to wonder if Lucky Lodge was indeed simply ‘lucky’ to escape the fire that razed the cottage next door (Shady Nook) but left it unscathed. Perhaps the ‘luck’ came from its second owner – an engineer and inventor with a passion for fire safety.

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.
Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.