The Bowery is the oldest of the Eight (8) Resorts on Big Star Lake.  It was not just the little convenient store of the past 20 years that our younger generations remember, where one could buy the basic grocery items, gas, and in the most recent years Pizza, and rent VHS movies until it burned down in the late 90's. 

As early as 1916 we know it was a very lively Dance Hall which was a major tourist attraction to the area. Also during that same time tents were set up and furnished by 'The Bowery' for vacationers to relax and enjoy the lake, and canoeing.  Breakfast was furnished on Sunday mornings for the guests.  In the early 1920's cabins were built as well as a restaurant and small market were available for the visitors. 

By the 1940's The Bowery was not just a Dance Hall, but also a Roller Skating Hall, and Beer Garden. 

The following pictures were sent in by various people:

The Bowery Dance Hall in the foreground, notice on the left in the background the tents.
Date is about 1916

Tents that the Bowery set up for renters; circa 1916

Cabins at the Bowery to replace the tents, circa early 1920's 

Bowery Restaurant & Meat Market, circa early 1920's 


Date not known 

Post card - circa 1945

Post card - circa 1945

Post Card, Date Un known
Picture courtesy of Doug Bereznoff  

Click here for more from Mil-Jon, (Bowery)

Picture provided by Sarah Boersen (1978)

Picture provided by Jennifer Kroll:
Cottage Number 7 and Mil Jon Resort by the Bowery.  Approx. 1979


    Hi, My name is Tootsie. My sister Mildred and John Merlo owned the Bowery, the rollerskate rink, the store, and the cottages at Big Star Lake during the late 40s. I'm not sure when it was sold, but she owned it for quite some time. I spent many summers working with my sisters, my brother, and many nieces. We traveled to Michigan from West Virginia every summer to work. I worked at the soda and ice cream shop. We sold ice, worms, and many other things. The undated photo of the store is circa 1945. I have many wonderful memories of spending my summers there. I remember people coming from Wisconsin, and various other places to camp in the cottages. There was winter fishing, a lot of rollerskating, and boating. I hope to locate some old photographs and brochure of Big Star Lake. I enjoyed looking your website. 



My aunt Mildred Merlo and her husband John bought The Bowery in 1947 from Stan and Doris Bayak. At that time it was very rustic with no electricity or indoor plumbing to the cottages (13 of them).  By the time I arrived in the summer of 1949, my handi-man uncle installed electrical service and indoor plumbing to most of the cottages. It was a magical place to me that summer. 

We had a store which had everything from groceries, fresh cut prime meats, fishing gear, fish and hunting licenses, souveniors and even some clothes.

There were 2 gas pumps across from the store in front of the oil house which sold oil for autos as well as oil mixtures for outboard motors.There was a boat house for boat and motor rentals. An icehouse for 24# and 50# blocks of ice sold to the public and delivered free to the cottages that were not yet equipped with refrigerators. We would have fun being in the bed of my uncle's 1949 chevy 1 1/2 ton stake-bed truck when he delivered ice around dinner time to the cottages. There was also a large outhouse on the property which was used before the plumbing was installed.

But best of all was the roller skating rink, with popular music blaring while all the kids/teens skated.  A huge soda parlor was attached to the rink whereby you could skate right in. My younger aunts Tootsie and Diane who were young teenagers worked there,  that's where all the action was in the evening when the teens skated and hung out. Great hamburgers (fresh ground from my uncles butcher shop)  as well as every ice cream and soda treats all made from scratch.

Along with many family and some close friends my aunt hired about 6 teens from Baldwin to work for the   summer, I believe they stayed there at the Bowery and she paid them a lump some after the season was over.

Since I was too young to work, I was able to have fun. I learned so many things that summer. I learned to swim in the lake as well as fish and row a boat. I learned to roller skate  with the clip on skates we rented out, very few people had shoe skates then; I did this in the afternoon when only a few people were there. My aunts took me horse back riding at the stables up the road from the Bowery, I never mastered that skill. There was an old bike I found that had been left by the previous owners and it was quite a challenge to learn to ride on the inner property since the roads and paths were just sand.  But I really got a fast lesson one early evening just at dusk when riding thru the tent section of the property,when all of a sudden the bike and myself were parted. The occupants were startled when there pup tent collapsed and a skinny little kid was being strangled by the cables./They were more than startled when my aunt found out about it, since their tent was sent up in the wrong position.  She was one tough cookie, never raised her voice, but you knew she meant business, everyone was a little afraid of her. She had a great presence.

Since I had so much fun that summer, I decided to stay there and go to school (5th grade) at Carrs a country school with 3 grades in one classroom.

Everything changed after labor day when all the vacationers left, it was quit and a bit lonely.   We looked forward to deer hunting season, the store would open for a couple of weeks with limited supplies and a few cottages were rented to the hunters.

I learned to play baseball and basketball with the Bayak boys across the street. I would go bike riding with the croft kids who lived at there resort near the Bowery on another lake.  We would attempt to ride around Big Star lake, but never made it. We would always have to call and get a ride and have our bikes brought back on a p/u truck.

In the winter we would ice fish, my uncle drove the truck on the frozen lake and we towed a little ice fishing house on to the lake, it was fun.

I returned to WV that summer because I missed my family and friends.  But 5 years later I returned for another year.

I really enjoyed the web sight.

Till next time




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