Lake Maxinkuckee

Lake Maxinkuckee, Indiana’s second largest lake, became a resort community beginning in the 1870s, and the area continues to be a summer vacation spot today. After the Civil War, industrialization led to more populated cities, and as cities became more crowded, they became dirtier and noisier causing the wealthier citizens to look for an escape. The expanding railroads offered an opportunity for travel and wealthy urban residents fled to the country for clean air and open space. Lake Maxinkuckee provided such a destination. Fishermen began visiting the area in the 1860s-1870s. Groups from different cities formed “clubhouses”—groups from Plymouth, Peru and Indianapolis created these private hotels. Eventually, these fishermen started bringing their families to Lake Maxinkuckee for fishing, swimming, boating, sailing, golfing, and tennis. With this influx of visitors, the clubhouses gave way to small hotels, boarding houses, and private residences. The oldest houses around the lake are on the east shore, the west shore was developed after World War I and the south shore since World War II.

Activities at Lake Maxinkuckee included a Chautauqua Assembly that lasted from 1899 until 1905 although none of the associated buildings remain. There was a yachting club established in 1896, and it continues as the Maxinkuckee Yacht Club today. The Coffin Golf Course started in 1906 as a 3-hole course. It was expanded in 1922 as the East Shore Country Club and in 1925 was renamed the Maxinkuckee Country Club.

Many well-known Hoosiers spent time at Lake Maxinkuckee. General Lew Wallace of Crawfordsville wrote portions of "Ben-Hur" at the Allegheny House. Meredith Nicholson used Culver and Lake Maxinkuckee as the setting for his "The House of a Thousand Candles" and wrote much of the book in the area. Booth Tarkington spent time at Lake Maxinkuckee writing "The Gentleman from Indiana" and James Whitcomb Riley wrote a poem about the lake. Author Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. spent summers of his childhood at the family cottages on the east shore. His grandfather, well-known Indianapolis architect Bernard Vonnegut, and his brothers all built houses there.

Several individual sites and historic districts surrounding Lake Maxinkuckee have been listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Images

Lake Maxinkuckee

Lake Maxinkuckee

Vonnegut family lake platform | Source: Courtesy of Indiana Historical Society View File Details Page

Lake Maxinkuckee

Lake Maxinkuckee

Visitors in the lake, ca. 1908 | Source: Courtesy of Indiana Historical Society View File Details Page

Street Address:

Lake Maxinkuckee, Union Township, IN 46511 [map]

Official Website:

www.mchistoricalsociety.org/

Cite this Page:

Indiana Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology, “Lake Maxinkuckee,” Discover Indiana, accessed July 18, 2018, http://indyhist.iupui.edu/items/show/305.

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