Ford Cottages

Ford Cottages in the 1950s. As of 2016, only two of the original cottages still stood.

Ford Cottages in the 1950s. As of 2016, only two of the original cottages still stood.


Ford Cottages were built by Florence Putnam Ford and her husband John in 1942. They stood along South Putnam Drive, across from the Jennie Munger Gregory Museum and slightly to the west.

The cottages were built on a portion of the land George C. and Mary Putnam purchased from the Fitch family in 1865.  Florence’s father, George Elbert, and mother Alice, purchased this 30-acre  farm from his siblings and mother in 1908, when George C. died. Florence and her husband purchased land from her father in 1936 to build a one-story home and cottages.

The cottages’ names included Okeedoke, Taka-Peke-Inn, Fordlawn, Triple Inn, Tumble Inn, Putnam, Just-a-Mere, Harmony House, Brighton, Dukamin, Foursome, and This’ll Do. As of spring 2016, only two of the cottages remained, This’ll Do (trimmed in yellow) and Putnam (orange trim). The house that John and Florence built in 1936 still stands, as well (gray, one-story on South side of Lake Road and west of Putnam).


Their slogan was “You can afford a Ford Cottage”.


The yard behind the cottages sloped toward the woodlands; this view is looking south from the back of the cottages.

Ford Cottages in the 1950s.

Ford Cottages in the 1950s.

The Ford family lived in this house, photographed in 1945.

The Ford family lived in this house, photographed in 1945.

John and Florence Ford had many happy years together managing Ford Cottages and made many good friends who returned year after year to stay in one of their cottages.  The cottages were “families only” and children enjoyed playing in the large yard.   Since there was no air- conditioning in those days,  renters enjoyed the screened in porches, and lawn chairs and hammocks in the yard.  Out back was a playground for the children with swings and a slide, and for the adults,  a badminton net, basketball hoop, and horse-shoes.  Many picnics were had in the back property under the oak tree.


The back side of the post card shown at the beginning of this post.

John and  Florence ran the cottages from 1942 until their deaths in 1969.   Their daughter, Grace (Bunny) Payne and her husband Hugh, relocated  to the village from Ashtabula in order to take over the cottage business.  They also had many happy times running the cottages until 1999.

Relaxing and enjoying the lake breezes at Ford Cottages in the 1950s.

Relaxing and enjoying the lake breezes at Ford Cottages in the 1950s.

Prepared by Louise (Payne) Bergeman, February 2016. All photos are from the author’s collection.

More memorabilia & photos from Ford Cottages:

Ford 1obit






Our guests remember:

Pirl Beach

I spent the summer of 1942 in Pirl Beach (at age 16) and worked part time for the manager pulling weeds and such. Also swam every day. My Pittsburgh relatives had reserved a cottage there for many years. My aunt and cousins stayed. My uncle commuted weekly in his Buick. The Pirl Beach manager used a Model T Ford truck for his chores.

Ken Ford

Memories of Ford's

Most of my summer childhood memories are at Ford’s! My parents met there right at the picnic table. We vacationed there every summer along with my grandparents and great aunt and uncle until they passed away. We made amazing friends there that we still vacation with on Putnam Drive!! I could never thank the Payne’s enough for my childhood memories. Playing Indians in the huge back yard, solving make-believe mysteries, playing release and listening to everyone playing penny poker when my sister and I should have been sleeping. I now bring my son to Geneva every summer. He is the 5th generation at Geneva!

Sara Turner Campos

Chestnut Grove

My extended family and I vacationed at Chestnut Grove from 1948-1964. Being from McKeesport, it was a dream come true to go there every summer. I currently live in Michigan but go back occasionally. Not too long ago, I found a post card of some of the cottages where the swings and horseshoe pit were and a local artist is making me a 24×36 painting of it. I can't wait to see it! So many wonderful memories and so few things left as reminders. It is nice to know that others still remember and care.

Michelle Turner ( a Chestnut Grove Kid)


We vacationed every summer at Idle-A-While in the late '50s and early '60s, partially because my aunt was the receptionist there. I often got to ring the bell summoning guests to breakfast, lunch and dinner in the dining room, which was staffed by co-eds from various universities. Evenings were spent playing bingo, fascination and other games on the strip or bridge and poker back at Idle-A-While. Great memories.
John Bloom

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