Lake Arrowhead Village celebrates its 100-year history

Sep 1, 2022 | Mountain Events

Historic display to continue through Labor Day

Staff Writer

The centennial celebration for Lake Arrowhead Village was held last Saturday, with County Supervisor Dawn Rowe in attendance. She presented a beautifully inscribed and signed County resolution recognizing the 100th anniversary.

The ceremony was held on Center Stage where the president of the Lake Arrowhead Merchants Association, Sharon McCormick, told a little about the timeline of history of the last 100 years and the many hurdles the Village has overcome to reach this milestone.

They presented the large bronze plaque to Josh Martin, the manager of Lake Arrowhead Village, that will be put on display in the Village in the future honoring this memorable event. The beautifully framed certificate and plaque were then placed in the former Bass Outlet store, where the Rim of the World Historical Society had created a historic display. That display will be available to visit through Labor Day weekend.

Also created for the centennial event was a history walking tour of the Village with posters on the store windows highlighting many of the important events in Lake Arrowhead Village history, beginning with the creation of the dam and lake from 1891 to 1914 and the creation of the original Lake Arrowhead Village.

Other poster topics created and installed by Neu-Art Studios included the “Burn to Learn” exercise in 1979, the Arrowhead Queen, entertainment, recreation and the pavilion. The posters featured photos from the Russ Keller collection, with text by Rhea-Frances Tetley. They were placed on the store windows of Mr. G’s for Toys, Rocket Fizz, Big on Bears, Papagayos, Bass Outlet, Pendleton, Jockey and Van Heusen, which had a five-panel poster of movies made in the Village area over the decades.

The Village merchants joined in the celebration by presenting centennial stickers to their customers during the weekend, along with a limited number of centennial pins, featuring the 12-sided pavilion building which opened on July 4, 1922, and brochures of the event, while supplies last.

Lake Arrowhead Village opened in the summer of 1922 with many buildings, including the dance pavilion, which is still standing and now houses a restaurant and retail store. Eventually, three hotels, the Village with restaurants, an outdoor movie theater, plus the lakefront were developed for sunbathing and sailing. Over $8 million was spent developing the property and advertising was done nationwide in magazines, postcards and newspapers and artists were encouraged to capture the beauty of the area, making the area almost an immediately successful venture.

The new high-gear road was being built at the time. Motor coaches were making the Village a regular stop on their mountain travels and the popularity of automobile travel helped it become an almost immediate tourist destination. The fact that movie stars liked the retreat and built homes in the area, as did movie directors who chose the location when making movies, added to its mystique and popularity.

It had its ups and downs during the depression and war years, but the Santa Anita Turf Club bought the lake and land after World War II and encouraged tourism again, making it the “golden era” of Lake Arrowhead Village from the 1950s through the 1970s.

By the late 1970s, when George Coult and Jerry Jackson bought the worn-out village, they decided to redevelop it and held a planned “Burn to Learn” exercise in cooperation with the fire districts to train firefighters in live burn exercises. All the old buildings except four – the pavilion, the post office, the bank and the real estate office – were burned to the ground in April 1979.

The new Village was quickly built, like a Phoenix arising from the ashes, and the new Village, which was ten times larger than the original village, opened its first stores on Memorial Day weekend 1981. It celebrated its 25-year anniversary of the new Village in 2006. The Village features retail, dining, recreation and entertainment, along with the Arrowhead Queen excursion tours of the lake and the McKenzie Water Ski School, fulfilling the original dreams of the Village builders 100 years ago.

The pop-up store and photo gallery of Lake Arrowhead Village created by the Rim of the World Historical Society for the event featured photos from the past 100 years, and twice-a-day PowerPoint presentations by Russ Keller and a running video on the history of the Village, plus docents and authors from the Mountain History Museum sharing the Lake Arrowhead story. Since it was so popular, more photos and information were added on Sunday from the museum.

Many visitors expressed they wished to bring back relatives and friends the next weekend to see the display, since it was so fascinating and educational. Village management has made that happen; it will be open from 10:30 to 6 p.m. from Friday through Monday on Labor Day weekend.

McCormick declared the weekend an unqualified success, having Supervisor Dawn Rowe attend, sharing the long heritage of the Village with many newcomers and visitors and bringing out long-time residents who shared their memories of growing up in Lake Arrowhead. It was a win-win for all who attended.



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