Big Star Hotel


  Hotel Owners over time

The photo of the Big Star Hotel taken from the lake also shows the Barnum cottage slightly to the left.  The Hotel was run by Elmer Smith, and I also remember he had a small store located immediately behind the Barnum Cottage.  The store had an old hand operated gas pump (the kind where you pump the gas up into the glass cylinder until you have the number of gallons desired and then let it flow into the car’s tank).  As a child, I also remember that Elmer’s store had the best “grape soda” in the world.

By: John L. Barnum 


Photo given by John L. Barnum


Photo given by John L. Barnum



Big Star Lake Hotel

1955 to 1974


The hotel was purchased by Stanley & Mary Czuchna in the fall of 1955 from Wayne and Peg McKinney (who also owned Canterbury Park and the land/cottages that extended to the south of the hotel).


In approximately 1958 Stanley built the first rental cottage in addition to the older one purchased as part of the hotel.  In 1960, three more cottages were built and again in 1967 when the last two cottages were built.


In 1955, there was a small stand at the corner near and opposite the Big Star Bar selling this new snack... Pizza.  When it closed in about 1957 the hotel began selling pizzas.  Between the hotel, 7 cottages and the pizza business – it kept the Czuchnas’ very busy during the summer months.  During the winter months, Stanley taught school at Saginaw High School .


Early on, there wasn’t a lot to do in the area when the sun went down.  An evening drive around the lake to look for deer, perhaps an outdoor movie at the drive-in, ice cream at Jones in Baldwin and pizza at the hotel amounted to about all the entertainment.


Stanley and Mary sold the hotel to a group of six individuals approximately 1974 or 1975.  Shortly after, the hotel was torn down and a couple of additional residents/cottages were built behind where the hotel stood.


After a visit to the property in 2005 (after nearly 30 years), it was difficult to recognize much.  The lake looked the same, the same steps (re-poured in 1956) were still there, the cottages looked about the same as when I helped build them.  A trip to Jones was a little disappointing, as the prices went up and the serving size went down – but it was still very good.


Stanley and Mary retired to Florida and then to Phoenix , where Stanley passed away in 1991 and Mary passed away in November of last year (2006).  I’m searching for some photos, and will pass them on to the web site.


Jerry Czuchna

Parker, Colorado


Picture sent in by Rod Galbreath


Kevin Blanchard tells me:  I was raised on the lake from 1959-1978.  I had many fond memories.  After selling the cottage, I ran across a guy named Tim Korhorn (who has since passed on recently) who informed me that his aunt owned the Hotel on the east side of the lake. Tim Korhorn was adopted and I have no idea if the name will back track to the owners of the hotel. Back in the day, his aunt hosted Al Capone and his cronies when the heat was on in Chicago.  They would have to drive through pastures in the sippi flatts area to get there.  She was asked if she knew who he was...she said yes I do...and I don't care.  So they repeatedly found a safe haven in the waters of Big Star Lake.

Hope you find that tidbit interesting.

Also Kevin mentions: Did you ever hear of the group of kids in the late 60's and early 70's who used to go out and party in the woods and call it a "rally?" on Saturday nights during the summer.
There were many in my sisters group.  They also would have daytime parties over by Giddley's (spelling?) resort and called them suicide saturdays.  Lots of diving board shenanigans and crazy tubing before today's manufactured innertubes with bottoms were invented.  We filmed them on 8mm film then when developed, would play them backwards.  They guys were very creative and planned on that so the reverse play would be some acrobatic miracle then go into a normal stroll and wave at the camera.




Post Card - taken approximately 1968
Jerry Czuchna says they (his family) took this photo from the front of the hotel and used it for post cards available to customers. 






Where the Hotel used to stand is now several cottages.  A few of them are the Stuk, VanderMolen, a DeVries family, and several other places.




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