The History of Punderson Manor State Park Lodge

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The history of Punderson dates back to the ice age. Punderson Lake is 90 acres and 85 – 90 feet deep in some areas making it one of the deepest glacial lakes in this area.

Punderson Lake is 90 acres and 85 – 90 feet deep in some areas

In 1795 General Moses Cleveland along with several surveyors stumbled upon this area naming the territory “The Western Reserve”.

In 1806 Lemuel Punderson traveled from New Haven Connecticut and also surveyed this area finding what he called “The Big Pond” and eventually settled in what is now Newbury, Ohio. Lemuel lived in Burton at which time he met Sybil Hickox who became his wife in October 1808. Lemuel built a cabin near the “Big Pond” in Newbury for workers to build his Grist Mill and Distillery while Lemuel and his wife lived in Burton. In July 1810 Lemuel and Sybil moved into the cabin that was built for the workers to be closer to the grist mill business. Over the next 12 years Lemuel and Sybil had 6 children. Lemuel died in 1822 with complications from malaria and his wife and 5 children worked hard to continue to develop this area and then changed the “Big Pond” name to “Punderson Pond” in honor of Lemuel.

… in 1822 the lake’s name was changed from the “Big Pond” to “Punderson Pond” in honor of Lemuel.

Sybil Punderson died in 1872 and the property was owned by the Punderson Estate. It was stated that no one owned the rights to the pond itself so it was used for recreational purposes and open to the public.

In 1885 James E. Wales started constructions on a building later called the Wales Hotel which was located on the south end of the campgrounds. In 1887 the hotel officially opened and was operated by J.E. Wales and his wife. The hotel was complete with a dining room, banquets rooms, and overnight room accommodations, music for dancing, fishing, boating, and fireworks over the lake. The hotel was operational and opened to the public for 20 years

In 1902 W.B. Cleveland (descendant of Moses Cleveland) started purchasing land around Punderson Pond but did not own the rights to the pond itself. W.B. Cleveland visited Lake Punderson and the Wales Hotel as a child and had a vision to turn this property into a private hunting and fishing estate.

In 1904 W.B. Cleveland married Ocie Coppedge and they built a home called the “Big House” which is where the Manor House is today. Their vision at this point started to become a reality as he acquired 500 solid acres of property. In 1907 W.B. Cleveland took up a legal action to purchase the rights to Punderson Pond because he owned almost all of the land surrounding the pond except 5 acres which Ella Punderson owned. Once he acquired the rights to the public pond and he took legal action and was awarded Ella Punderson’s 5 acres now totaling 505 acres.

W.B. Cleveland then used this property for private purposes and started a dog kennel calling it Lakefield Farm and Kennels. Within the 500 acres you would find a kennel prized bird dogs, a dog food factory, herds of buffalo, angora goats, cows, elk, wolves, fox, swans and cranes. There was a Maple Sugar Bush on the property and a houseboat with 6 bedrooms. This property ran like this until after WW1.

W.B. Cleveland became ill in the early 1920’s and was no longer capable of keeping up with the property. He passed away a decade later.

Dr. E. Coppedge financially rescued Lakefield Farms and then land contracted the property to Karl Long, a builder from Detroit, MI around 1925. Karl had a vision to build a 43 room English Style Tudor Mansion and began construction in 1925.

The agreement between the Cleveland / Coppedge family and Karl Long was that he could make minor renovations to the existing house on the property. After spending roughly $250,000 Karl Long tore down the existing “Big House” (except the two main chimneys) and built an English Style Tudor Mansion. In 1929 Karl Long defaulted on his mortgage and abandoned the property in Oct 1929. The mortgage was owned by Dr. Coppedge / Cleveland Estate and they took back ownership of the property

Ocie Cleveland used the property for a girls summer camp in the early 1930’s. After no longer being able to keep up with the camp or financially support the property, she sold the rights of the land to the State of Ohio in 1948.

In 1951 the state started an extensive renovation to finish the mansion started by Karl Long and opened its door officially to the public on November 15, 1956. The mansion provided 8 lodge rooms as well as dining facilities

In 1965 a $1.4 million renovation was complete adding an additional 24 lodge rooms and 26 cottages.

On Feb 1, 1966 the state officially opened Punderson State Park Lodge featuring 32 lodge rooms, 26 cabins as well as tennis courts, outdoor pool, shuffleboard courts, snack bar, dining room for 160 guests, and banquet / meeting facilities for up to 125 guests. Other recreational facilities included a golf course, marina, beach and hiking trails.

The lodge closed in the fall of 1979 and the state spent approximately $655,000 on a structural renovation reopening in March of 1983 to which has been opened year round ever since.

Part of this renovation included restoring the original master bed room built in 1929. Now the existing lodge has 31 guest rooms and 26 cabins as well as the Oak Lounge, the Alcove & Cherry Dining Room, The Round Room, the Sir James, 4 Banquet Meeting Rooms, indoor / outdoor pool, 18 Hole Championship Golf Course, marina and campground area.

Do you have any stories about Punderson?  Share your stories with us in the section below.

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