Return to: 1895

History of Sauble Inn and Resort

Author: Larry Budd
Date: November 17, 2019
  As the pine lumber had been felled and the first lumbering era ended, Charles Mears, who had owned the land from the Lincoln River north to the Sable River, began to divest himself of his land holdings selling plots to individuals and land improvement companies. This helped to usher in the second lumbering era where hardwoods like oak, maple, and less desirable softwoods like hemlock were harvested. The improvement companies owned by venerable names like Stearns and Cartier began planning out the use of the land for local communities.
Charles Gatke One of the individuals who purchased land, had also been a notable figure within the Ludington community, Charles Gatke. Gatke, responsible for the design and construction of the Mason County Courthouse, as well as the original pier/break wall of the Ludington Harbor had purchased a large plot of land between George Weimer’s Weimer development and Justice Stearns’ Hamlin development. Originally it included all the land from the lakeshore from First St. (just south of the present day Second St.) down the South Bayou, out east about 40 acres shy of Halls Lane.
Gatke's Hotel and Resort In 1893 Gatke announced he would be building a hotel, two years later Gatke’s Hotel and Resort grand opening was being advertised in the Detroit Free Press. In 1903 Gatke would further expand the hotel, adding a wing and expanding the kitchen and laundry. When the renovation was finished the hotel consumed approximately 82’ deep by 88’ wide in a U shape. Each 32’ x 82’ wing housed two floors of guest rooms, with a dance pavilion, dining room, and a 24’ x 20’ kitchen occupying the middle. A veranda ran the width of the front of the hotel. Originally open, it would later be enclosed.
Map At this time, the property consisted of the inn, and behind it a stable with a blacksmith shop. Leading down the hill was a pier, with a boat house.
Fred C. Gulembo
Sable Inn
In 1903 Charles Gatke and his wife would divorce, selling the hotel and resort to Fred C. Gulembo. Fred and his wife were hoteliers in the Ludington area, being the proprietors of the Filer House previously. Under Gulembo and his caretaker Werman, the name would change initially to Sable Inn, settling on Sauble Inn. It’s during this era that the inn and resort rose to great prominence.
Photo - Sauble Inn In the modern era, families tend to vacation for a week’s time. However, it’s worth noting that back in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s couples, siblings, or individuals may go away for weeks or months at a time for a holiday, often being advertised in the local paper incase anyone wanted to get in touch with them or for the purpose of local gossip.
Dummy Line
The Gulembos owned the Sauble Inn and Resort from 1904 until 1921. During their ownership tennis courts were added, a caretaker home, as well as a station for the dummy line.
George Hallard
1942 Fire
In 1921 the Gulembos sold the resort and inn to George Hallard. Hallard’s proprietorship would mark the end of the inn as an operating business. In 1926 and then again in 1934 the inn was rocked by relatively minor fires. One having been put out by the guests and staff in the dance pavilion, although approximately $3,000 in damage was done. However, in 1942 the inn would be virtually destroyed by fire. The remainder of what stood was turned into a home.
Photo - Dock Under Hallard however, the business had been pivoting around to the resort. As the way people and families vacationed changed, Sauble Inn and Resort was prepared for it.
Photo - Veranda Based on plat maps, both the hotel and cottages were built by Gatke sometime between 1893 and 1904. The original cottages stretched, along the bluff of the hill, from Main St. (now the East/West leg of Neil Rd.).
Photo - Entrance It’s worth noting that originally Neil Rd/Front St. originally continued along it’s present day North/South leg along the cottages, past the inn, continuing all the way to Bayou St. Up until the present owners bought the inn property, a fence stood blocking off thru traffic of the road. Though overgrowth had long ago blocked it off making the fence just a reminder of what once was. Portions of the road still exist along Sixth and Seventh St.
  The first six cottages were single bedroom cottages, followed by four two-bedroom cottages (cottages 7-10), and then the game room (now cottage 23/24), followed by two more single bedroom cottages (now 21/22). Behind the game room and two-bedroom cottages, were five more two-bedroom cottages (cottages 11-12,14-16), one more two-bedroom (cottage 17), and four more single room cottages (linen room, cottages 18–20). This put most guests closer to the inn, with the outliers being the first six single bedroom cottages.
  Under Hallard, two major changes happened to the resort, first was the expansion of the cottages. About three feet were added on to the width of each. The addition permitted additional space for the kitchen, bathroom, and second bedroom. The second was the addition of a new game room. The new game room was positioned near the second entrance, now the primary entrance.
Kuhn George Hallard would own Sauble Resort until approximately 1958, when he would sell it to the Kuhns. Under the Kuhns the resort would see the greatest expansion since it was built. Kuhn remodeled several of the cottages, including 23/24, 21/22, 18/19, the cottage that was linen room into the linen room, as well as building cottages 25-32, the hall with cottages 33/34 (an addition to the game room), the garage/laundry, and pool.
Ray Cummins In the early 70’s Ray Cummins and his family would purchase the resort. Under the Cummins ownership, the resort saw the loss of the single bedroom cottages (1-6). Whether it was under Cummins or Kuhn, the kiddie pool had been filled in. However, the Cummins, having a family, began a focus on family with a few nightly events each week, potluck, BINGO, and a bonfire. By 1976 the Cummins would sell the resort to the Linvilles.
Linville In early 1976 the Linvilles purchased Sauble Resort, however because of a medical issue, sold it months later. They would own the resort for the shortest time on record.
Marvin & Colleen Budd Later in July of 1976 Marvin and Colleen Budd and their family would purchase the resort. Very little changed over the 13 years of their proprietorship. The most significant addition was the retaining wall along the hill. As with the Cummins, the Budds, having family, had family events. In addition to the ones the Cummins offered, the Budds had a dance, and throughout the week offered sporting events such as fishing, ping-pong, tennis, volleyball, and billiards (pool), with a trophy ceremony during the Friday bonfire.
Ferwerda In 1989 the Budds sold the resort to the Ferwerdas, the brother of the owner of Peaceful Acres. Under the Ferwerdas the resort would see some renovation, including the renovation of the caretaker’s home into cottage 20. However, it began a period of decline.
  A few years later, the Ferwerdas would sell the resort to a couple. During this period the most notable addition was a double-wide mobile home as the primary residence for the owners. In addition, the cottages were renovated with vinyl siding. The basement of the hall was converted into cottages, though these were later shuttered as they violated fire safety ordinances. However, the main floor of the hall was converted into cottages, and the top floor was returned to use as cottages after significant renovations.
Pomeroy The current owners, the Pomeroys, have employed the second most extensive renovation in the resort’s history. All the cottages were renovated, the retaining wall was replaced, improved, and expanded offering a tiered garden look. In addition, a house was built on the property for the owners and the double-wide made into a cottage. The general feel of the resort is cozier. Hamlin Lake Preservation Society PO Box 178, Ludington, MI 49431