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Doug's Diggings: Bathing beach had beginnings in 1924

The Hudson bathing beach and bathhouse in Lakefront Park as it appeared during its golden era in the 1940s, when it was one of the most popular spots in the community. The wooden structure was located near the current boat launch and included a large amount of wood decking and a diving board. (Hudson Star-Observer archive photo)1 / 2
This is a view of the park looking south from the Dike Road with the bathhouse in the background. In those days, a park road went through the park from Walnut to Buckeye streets, close to the water. Railroad tracks were located on the current site of First Street. (Hudson Star-Observer archive photo)2 / 2

As we approach another summer of swimming, I thought it would be timely to look back at the spot that was a popular swimming hole for nearly 70 years. The old Hudson bathing beach and bathhouse was located in Lakefront Park near the current boat launch.

In September 1923, lake frontage south of Walnut Street was acquired by the city of Hudson from the Central and Local Lumber companies. Under the leadership of Christian J. Birkmose (1857-1935), park board chairman, development of the area began immediately.

The family of Hans J. Andersen (1854-1914), founder of the Andersen Corporation, had, in 1922, given $2,000 to the park board for the erection of a suitable memorial to H.J. Andersen and his son, Herbert (1885-1921). Two years after the donation, the bathhouse was erected as the memorial to the father and son.

On April 29, 1924, the contract for $2,600 was let for the construction of the bathhouse. Designer of the structure was Arthur Lee and the actual builder was his father, John A. Lee (1858-1949).

In the middle of July 1924, the bathhouse was complete, but the beach was not yet ready. An appeal was sent out through the Star-Observer asking for “public spirited bathers to bring their garden rakes and bathing suits and assist for an hour and clean the bottom.” A diving platform was erected at this time.

The beach and the bathhouse were put into usable shape and by Aug. 14, 1924, the Star-Observer reported in its local news that “Hudson’s new bathhouse and bathing beach has been greatly enjoyed by young and old for the past two weeks. Mrs. I.N. O’Day makes an efficient matron in charge of the bathhouse.”

Lakefront beach and the bathhouse proved to be popular summer attractions for several generations of Hudsonites.

In the summer of 1927, the beach and bathhouse were opened on June 27. According to the Star-Observer, the beach and house were open from 1-5:30 p.m. and from 6:30 p.m. to dusk. Swimsuits could be rented for 25 cents and bathing caps could be purchased for 15 cents.

Mrs. O’Day was still matron in 1927. Later, Mrs. Agnes Melton and Mrs. Agnes Carroll were both matrons at the bathhouse.

The paper reported that same year that a log boom had been placed there in three-foot water to keep smaller children within the safety zone. At 14 feet of water, a diving platform was anchored.

The bathhouse was equipped with showers, booths and boxes for clothing which, the newspaper stated, “is guarded by Mrs. O’Day.”

As a final warning, the Star-Observer continued, “Parents are urged not to let small children go to the beach unless accompanied by an adult. The matron is only responsible for articles left in her possession.”

The building was demolished in the early 1990s, and the current bathhouse was constructed in the then-newly opened northern end of Lakefront Park. The new bathhouse was designed to resemble the original structure.

Doug Stohlberg

Doug Stohlberg has been part of the Hudson Star-Observer since 1973 and has been editor since 1987. He worked at the New Richmond News from 1971 to 1973. He holds a bachelors degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota.

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