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Fox Lake Indiana
Fox Lake is located near Angola, in Indiana's northeastern corner. Before air conditioning became widespread, people went to lakes to get away from sweltering summer heat. There were numerous lakeside resorts where most Hoosiers could go. These included Cedar Lake, Lake Manitou and many others. However, this was the era of segregation, and African-Americans were not welcome in many of these resorts. Fox Lake was the only resort in Indiana that catered to African-Americans.
Origins of the Resort
In 1924, several white businessmen from Fort Wayne (about 40 miles south) purchased land along the south side of Fox Lake. They created the Fox Lake Land Company. In 1927 Viola Reynolds and her family were the first African-Americans to vacation at Fox Lake. Afterwards they purchased a cottage. Despite the onset of the Great Depression, other black families purchased properties at Fox Lake throughout the 1930s. Most vacationers came from Indianapolis, but late in the 1930s Fox Lake was marketed to the African-American communities in Chicago, Detroit and Toledo as well.
Initially, conditions were a bit primitive, but things were quickly improved. Water had to be obtained from public wells, but property owners soon dug individual wells. The Rural Electrification Administration was established in 1935, and electricity was available at Fox Lake the following year. The Fox Lake Property Owners Association was established in 1938 to take care of things like trash removal and road maintenance. They also organized activities, which included swimming, dances, trap shooting contests and Sunday school on the beach. Eventually the resort included:
- Tennis courts
- Basketball courts
- Horeshoe pits
Fox Lake attracted some black celebrities including heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis and band leader Duke Ellington.
World War II - Present
In addition to the property owners, Fox Lake was popular with African-Americans who would come to spend a day. During World War II many servicemen were stationed at Baer Field in Fort Wayne. Black troops were welcomed at Fox Lake on their free weekends.
After segregation ended, many institutions that catered to African-Americans disappeared. Negro League baseball ended after the 1951 season. The Fox Lake community has continued to do well. Today many of those living at Fox Lake are second or third generation property owners. Many black church groups and other organizations hold meetings at Fox Lake.
The Fox Lake Property Owners Association has held events in recent years to commemorate black history. In 1998, the Calico Troops visited to put on a Buffalo Soldiers reenactment. The father of one Fox Lake resident was an original Buffalo Soldier. In addition to serving in western Army posts, he saw action in Cuba and was wounded in the Battle of San Juan Hill during the Spanish-American War. In 2012, a Fox Lake program honored the Tuskegee Airmen, who served in World War II. Four of those honored were Fox Lake residents.
In 2001 Fox Lake was added to the National Register of Historic Places as a historic district. 27 buildings are included in the historic district. Most are relative small buildings such as this cottage.
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