Table of contents
    No headers

    Put your comments here about your visit to Idlewild.

    1. Explain your theory on why Idlewild is no longer a viable vacation/resort spot for African Americans.
    2. Explain how the loss of Idlewild has effected the economy and culture of Lake County.
    3. Develop a development plan that would revitalize Idlewild as a tourist/resort town.


    For many people a resort is a place to escape work, for some Americans a resort was a place of refuge.

    Was this page helpful?
    Tag page (Edit tags)
    • No tags
    Viewing 15 of 16 comments: view all
    I enjoyed seeing the old music buildings. It is really neat to think about an area being hip and vibrant for so short a time, then changing so dramatically to what it is today. I would love to get on my bike and ride around that area for the day. However, I wonder if I would feel the same way as I do now. Would getting outside bus windows change my feelings? The area looked very poor and many buildings were decrepit.

    1. How many original landowners of idle wild property still maintain deeds?
    2. What do people in the area do to keep their culture and history alive? edited 18:10, 20 Jun 2011
    Posted 08:17, 20 Jun 2011
    I had mixed feeling about our time in Idlewild. I could imagine the women in their dresses heading to the clubs, and the men getting ready to take their ladies out on the town. The fun that was had in such a vacant place today. The severe lack of energy or resort feeling in the area was sad for something as big as Idlewild to be reduced to so little is historically criminal. A couple of buildings remained but who would know they were apart of something so important. I hope trips like this one will bring new energy and appreciation for the area.
    Posted 11:34, 20 Jun 2011
    It is hard to see the blight of the community now after viewing the grandeur of the past. I really enjoyed learning about how music brought people together.
    Posted 17:39, 20 Jun 2011
    Idlewild was a great place to start our journey
    Posted 17:46, 20 Jun 2011
    Two African American brothers had the foresight to purchase a piece of land that had been depleted of trees by the logging industry, leaving only a stump filled area. These brothers took this land and created a vacation resort for the African American population.

    One could only imagine that Idlewild created a conundrum for the people who vacationed in this beautiful pine tree lined resort area. How WONDERFUL for the African American folks to have a private place where there was NO discrimination, NO judgement, NO belittling only relaxation and joy; where they could enjoy owning a small piece of land on a beautiful lake for vacationing... and how difficult it must have been for them to leave this place of joy to return to "normal" life.

    What can you remember about segregation in America?
    Why would a group of men see potential in land that was left with only stumps, at a time when logging was such a fruitful industry in Michigan?
    Why do you think Idlewild held such a significant plan in Michigan and the nation's history? edited 18:06, 20 Jun 2011
    Posted 17:48, 20 Jun 2011
    1. Explain your theory on why Idlewild is no longer a viable vacation/resort spot for African Americans.
    2. Explain how the loss of Idlewild has effected the economy and culture of Lake County.
    3. Develop a development plan that would revitalize Idlewild as a tourist/resort town.
    Posted 17:49, 20 Jun 2011
    I enjoyed learning about Idlewild. Unfortunately, the buildings at Idlewild were in disaray. It was interesting to learn very important African American musicians performed at Idlewild.
    Why did African Americans go to Idlewood?
    Name two famous musicians who played at Idlewild. edited 18:17, 20 Jun 2011
    Posted 17:52, 20 Jun 2011
    Stop 1: Idlewild
    This resort town developed in the early 1900’s. African Americans were segregated in most recreational activities of the time, and the Idlewild community was begun to offer an alternative. Over time, it developed into a well-known entertainment and recreation destination for African-Americans. In the 1964, with passage of civil rights legislation which banned segregation, Idlewild slowly lost popularity as African-Americans chose to vacation elsewhere.
    During the Great Depression, President Franklin Roosevelt established the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). Men were employed by the federal government in the CCC, where they served in many different ways.
    *What did the men hired into the CCC in the Idlewild area do for the federal government?
    *One famous visitor to the Idlewild resort is seen here, in a 1950’s photograph. What made Joe Louis famous?
    Posted 17:52, 20 Jun 2011
    Idlewild was an attempt by developers to provide a get away for African Americans during segregation in an effort to convert seemingly useless land. Patrons came from all over. They would build quick one-room cottages called "dog houses" and spent their vacations there. Big name performers were brought to supplement income. It was quite the hot spot for its day. As desegregation efforts succeeded, Idlewild dwindled. For all of its nostalgic value, African Americans stopped coming as they could now vacation elsewhere.

    Today, Idlewild is a pleasant memory for those who spent time there, but it's cottages and buildings have been abandoned and have fallen in disrepair. Efforts are underway to revitalize what was once a blooming, family-friendly vacation area.
    Posted 18:07, 20 Jun 2011
    In the morning we arrived in Idlewild at Lake County Michigan. It was an African American resort that began in 1915 for mixed races. It had entertainers such as the Four Tops, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Della Reese, and Joe Louis. It was a national destination for African Americans during Jim Crow laws and Segregation. One person drove 25 hours and 2 flat tires from Detroit to get to the resort in Idlewild. We saw the Flamingo Club where the entertainers preformed. We also so the building structures that were built during the 1920s thru 1940s. There was a beach and lake for swimming. The resort had a rollerskating rink for people to enjoy.

    The civil Rights Acts of 1950s allowed African American entertainers to go anywhere they wanted to perform in the United States. Over the next decade Idlewild's popularity declined as people went to other destination places. The Population decline left many building and houses unoccupied.

    People leaving the the area has caused it to be one of the poorest economic counties in the state of Michigan
    Posted 18:08, 20 Jun 2011
    1. What was the reason that Idlewild was created?
    2. What were the small houses called?
    3. Why did African Americans stop coming to Idlewild?
    Posted 18:09, 20 Jun 2011
    I was totally unaware of the town called Idlewild prior to getting off the bus on Sunday. Having never heard of this place, I was fascinated by the attraction made exclusively for African Americans.
    1. How were white people received if they came to vacation at Idlewild?
    2. What famous people performed at the Flamingo?
    3. How would you feel about a vacation in a tiny cabin that was shared by all your family? edited 09:17, 24 Jun 2011
    Posted 18:33, 20 Jun 2011
    One hundred years after its creation Idlewild continues to be a powerful symbol of African Americans quest to realize meaningful equality in the United States. Dating back to the early 20th century, Idlewild served as a rural resort for African Americans looking to have a place for rest and relaxation. Equally, Idlewild served as a haven for African Americans where they could escape the hardships they had to endure in an otherwise segregated America.

    Across the span of a half century Idlewild played host to such notable African American leaders as Dr. WEB Du Bois and heavy weight champion Joe Louis. In that time the resort community was also frequented by notable entertainers including Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughn, the Four Tops, Sammy Davis Jr., Bill Cosby, and many others. While we recall their names, they surely would tell you about the venues where they performed including the Flamingo Club and the Paradise Club.

    The same energy that led to the creation of Idlewild was also directed at the continued push for gaining Civil Rights throughout the 20th century. The sustained efforts of generations of African American leaders culminated into a series of Civil Rights Acts that sought to end the decades of inequality that had been created by Jim Crow. Most notably the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 sought to ban discrimination of anyone based on race or gender from public accommodations. This landmark piece of legislation helped advance African Americans standing in the United States. However, it also led to the down turn of resort communities such as Idlewild. As performers accepted invitations to perform at more lucrative venues Idlewild became less relevant as a place to showcase their talents.

    The last four decades have presented Idlewild with the challenge of finding a way to endure in a new social environment. Sadly, many people remain unaware of the importance of Idlewild as a historic place. The decaying buildings and fading remains of Idlewild beg us to consider what should be done with this cultural legacy in the future. When visitors see historical preservation sites such as those found in the straits of Mackinac or at Fayette Townsite in Fayette State Park, it raises the question about why we are concentrating similar energies in preserving this part of Michigan history.

    1. Why do you think Idlewild was so popular for the first 50 years of its existence?
    2. What were the unintended consequences of the Civil Rights Act of 1964?
    3. Do you think that it would be in the interest of the common good for the state of Michigan to more proactively seek to restore and preserve the legacy of Idlewild? Why or why not?
    Posted 19:19, 20 Jun 2011
    We began our trip of Michigan History by stopping at the Idlewild Historic and Culture Center. It was exciting to listen to and watch a video of African Americans who actually lived and vacationed at Idlewild. Idlewild was important to African Americans of the time because of segregation. African Americans were not allowed to visit, vacation, eat, and congregate in the same places as whites. Idlewild allowed African Americans to listen to music, enjoy the same leisure activities such as boating and fishing and dine at some of the finest restaurants. African Americans were able to, with the creation of the Idlewild Resort, do the same as the whites. They felt equal to whites, which is what many African Americans of the time wanted most.

    After the U.S. Supreme Court overturned segregation, African Americans looked to the more popular vacation spots such as Florida to take refuge from the everyday life. Subsequently, Idlewild Resort died shortly after that. It was sad to see the contrasting difference between Idlewild then and now.
    Posted 08:54, 22 Jun 2011
    What are two contributing reasons why Idlewild, in the end, failed?
    Posted 08:56, 22 Jun 2011
    Viewing 15 of 16 comments: view all
    You must login to post a comment.