The Directors of the Clark Lake Spirit Foundation meet as needed though out the year.  The most recent meeting was held on May 9th at which Directors heard reports, discussed the issues and voted as required.  What follows are some highlights.

Last fall, the Foundation agreed to accept ownership of the Clark Lake Community Center. Prior to acceptance, the Directors reviewed all aspects of owning and operating this historic landmark.  Their due diligence included commissioning a structural engineering study, determining ongoing sustainability, estimating the cost of restoration, analyzing past financial data, negotiating a new license agreement with the Jackson County Parks Department, and polling Clark Lakers to determine the degree of community support.  The Directors took on a big task.

Previous news items on this website spelled out the challenges and continue to record the progress (keep reading for links to the stories).  A new agreement with the County improved operating commitments.  The engineering study revealed the 125 year old cottage had good bones.  But it flashed warning signals.  The beloved building wouldn’t remain serviceable unless quick action turned around the deterioration.  Original cost estimates for restoration were high–$192,665.  As work began, inflation rocked the estimates.   

Then Clark Lake came to the rescue.  The results of the poll suggested strong support, both for preserving this important element of Clark Lake’s past, and willingness to contribute financially.  Donations topped $200,000, coming from about a 100 individual contributors, and in a wide range of amounts.  Individual Directors personally donated $56,000 of the $200,000.  Another $50,000 came from a matching grant from the Michael Ibold Wilger Foundation (learn more by clicking here).  Donations of $2500 to $10,000 poured in.  Others followed, ranging from $20 to $1000, illustrating widespread support.  The message was clear.  The Community Center must be saved. 

History sheds light on the community’s desire to preserve Clark Lake’s past.  Because many original cottages cannot survive the test of time, they are being replaced.  The 125 year old Graziani cottage will continue to stand in their place, as a cultural exemplar. 

On the day the Cincinnati Northern Railroad first stopped at the depot on Vining Street everything changed.  No longer a rural outpost, Clark Lake was now a destination.  Visitors could spend a week at the Pleasant View or Eagle Point Hotels.  Then more people arrived to rent one of the growing number of cottages for a longer stay.  Perhaps smitten by the lake’s lure, some built a summer cottage of their own.  Captivated by the Clark Lake experience, still others decided this was the place to live year around, and Clark Lake became their forever home.  Search the past, and you find the origins of today.    

Restoration is progressing rapidly with the goal to beat cost increases, and to work around weekend event rentals.

This community support shows what standing up for Clark Lake is all about.  Clark Lake is indeed generous, and that generosity will be recognized on a large, permanent display on which the names of donors will be inscribed.   

Here are links, starting with the most recent, that help tell the story. 

Rapid Progress at the Community Center – Clark Lake Spirit Foundation

Historical Sign Comes to Community Center – Clark Lake Spirit Foundation

Save the Community Center – Early April 2022 – Clark Lake Spirit Foundation

More Clark Lake History at the Community Center – Clark Lake Spirit Foundation

Save the Community Center Restoration – February 2022 Update – Clark Lake Spirit Foundation

Community Center – Time to Act – Clark Lake Spirit Foundation

Save the Community Center Update – Clark Lake Spirit Foundation

Saving the Clark Lake Community Center – Clark Lake Spirit Foundation

Community Center Leadership Group Assembles – Clark Lake Spirit Foundation

Foundation to Own and Operate the Community Center – Clark Lake Spirit Foundation

Clark Lake Community Center Rentals – Clark Lake Spirit Foundation

Foundation to Accept Ownership of Community Center – Clark Lake Spirit Foundation

And there are more.  Use the search function for additional stories. 

The Foundation has recruited talented individuals to form the The Leadership Group.  Each has a role in operating the Community Center. 

Leadership Group

Left to right: Jaimie Thomson (events), Mike McKay (restoration), Ann Swain (treasurer), Mick Thorrez (development), Meredythe Hill VanDusen (rentals),  Flip Reynolds (building).  Not pictured, Rick Belcher (manager).

Here are the Directors of the Clark Lake Spirit Foundation.

  • Rick Belcher (President)
  • Kevin Thomson (Vice President)
  • Ann Swain (Treasurer)
  • Josie Hones (Secretary)
  • Tucker Boyers
  • Mike McKay
  • Melissa Owings (2020 photo)
  • Joe Thorrez
  • Mick Thorrez


Flashback 26 years ago.  When it looked like the 100 year old iconic cottage on Kentucky Point was about to be bulldozed, a group of Clark Lakers rightly concluded that the community did not want to lose this building so closely identified with Clark Lake.  They set out to save it.  But where to move it?  One plan called for transporting the cottage to Vining Street.  At the time, this drawing was created showing how it might look in that location.

        Today, she reigns like a Victorian empress, from high on a hill, surrounded by enchanted gardens, overlooking one of the finest lakes in the world.