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Lake Geneva Hotel, Lake Geneva, WI (1911) (S.171)
The History of the Hotel Geneva viewed through Post Cards.  Dating images of the Hotel Geneva.

Designed in 1911 as "The Geneva Inn", "The Geneva" opened in August 1912. Within two years, it changed hands due to financial difficulties. By the end of 1914 and the beginning of 1915 the name was changed to the "Hotel Geneva", and it stayed the Hotel Geneva most of its life. During its final years it was known as "The Geneva Inn". It was demolished in 1970. There are very few photographs of the Hotel Geneva, so postcards become a good record. Even in the book "Lost Wright", by Carla Lind, the only image used is

  the post card published in 1938. The problem is dating post cards chronologically. Few cards were dated.  Curt-Teich dated their cards with a code, but that date indicated when the post card was published, not photographed.  Post marks give you a general idea when a card was published, but post cards could last for over a decade, so postmarks are not reliable. Our attempted is to place these post cards in chronological order.
 
1: Circa 1912. "The Geneva," Lake Geneva, Wis. Frank Lloyd Wright’s original illustration for the proposed Hotel Lake Geneva in 1911. This early drawings included a proposed three story section on the East end that was never built. Illustration was exhibited at the Chicago Architectural Club at the Art Institute on May 5, 1913. It was published in the Architectural Record, June 1913 Designed in 1911 "The Geneva" opened in August 1912. Within two years, it changed hands due to financial difficulties. By the end of 1914 and the beginning of 1915 the name was changed to the "Hotel Geneva", and it stayed the Hotel Geneva most of its life. Back: "Motor to Lake Geneva. Just the right distance an the roads in good shape. Stop at ‘The Geneva’ the finest resort hotel in the middle west. European plan. Every room with bath. Large dining rooms. Meals a la Carte. You will like them." Printed message on the left, typed address on the right. Used as a direct mail advertisement. P.M. May 1, 1913, just in time for the summer season. (Published by Acmegraph Co., Chicago.)
 
2: Circa 1912. "The Geneva," Lake Geneva, Wis. This may be one of the earliest images of the Hotel Geneva. Notice the lack of any landscaping, even in the large vases. Possible decorative flag flying from left “Light Pole” as seen in the original drawings. “Light Poles” are at full height. Lack of “Hotel Geneva” lettering above Lobby windows. Globe lights not installed yet. Down spouts above Lobby windows have not been installed. (Published by V. O. Hammon Co., Chicago, IL.)
 
2b: Circa 1912. 3464. "The Geneva," Lake Geneva, Wis., circa 1912. Designed in 1911, The Geneva opened in August 1912. "Light Poles" are at full height. Lack of "Hotel Geneva" lettering above Lobby windows. Globe lights not installed yet. Down spouts above Lobby windows have not been installed. (Published by E. A. Bishop, Pub. Racine, Wis. Made in U. S. A.) On back, C. T. Photochrom. R-37748. Post marked Aug 23, 1913.
 
2c: Circa 1914-15. Reprinted in the 1939 Souvenir Folder, it is now titled the Hotel Geneva. (E.A. Bishop Publisher D-5746)
 
3: Circa 1914-1915. “Hotel Geneva, Lake Geneva, Wis. 19019-r.” This may also be one of the earliest images of the Hotel Geneva. Notice the lack of any landscaping, even in the large vases. “Light Poles” are at full height. Lack of “Hotel Geneva” lettering above Lobby windows. Globe lights not installed yet. Down spouts above Lobby windows have not been installed. 1914-1915 (Published by C.R. Childs, Chicago).
 
4: Circa 1914-1915. This is the same image as #3, but hand touched to include foliage. The “Light Poles” have been retouched over.
 
5: Hotel Geneva 1915. Lack of any landscaping, even in the large vases. “Light Poles” are at full height. Lack of “Hotel Geneva” lettering above Lobby windows. Globe light or small vase possibly on the left stair pedestal. Down spouts above Lobby windows are installed. Very good view of the lower Lobby windows. From “Lake Geneva”, Published by Morrison and Rogers, Lake Geneva, Wis. Copyright 1915, by C. MacKay Morrison.
 
6: Circa 1916-1919. Light Poles have been reduced in height. “Hotel Geneva” lettering above Lobby windows have been added. Sign and lamp post added in the street. Landscaping has begun. Possible flower vase has been added to the stair pedestal. A sign is visible on the left exterior of the Dining Room, a possible sign for the restaurant. The earliest postmark I have seen to date is September 14, 1922.  (Recently verified a P.M. as early as 1919.) Published by V.O. Hammon Publishing Company, which published pictorial postcards from 1904 until 1923.
 
7: Circa 1916-1919. One flag is visible on the top right corner of the Lobby. Flower vase has been added to the stair pedestal. A plaque has been added to pedestal to the left of stairs. Small globe lights are visible under side of the trellis. Sign has been removed from the outside of the Dining Room. Landscaping is flourishing. Published in 1934 (4A-H193). (E.A. Bishop Publisher #3582, 4A-H193)
 
8: Circa 1919-1921. Building has been painted white. One flag is visible on the top left corner of the Lobby. Large globe light has been added to the patio pedestals. Landscaping is flourishing. The earliest postmark I have seen to date using this image folder) is August 1921. (E.A. Bishop Publisher #3581, R-80820)
 
9: Close up of the Lobby. Planter on the right foreground seen in close up of aerial view drawing (below), but does not appear in later images. Medium globe lights on the corner of the upper Lobby/Terrace. Awning frame also visible in the upper Lobby/Terrace. Flags have appeared and may have been added during WWI. Real photo PC, Published by AZO between 1910-1930. http://www.playle.com/realphoto/photoa.php
 
10: Original aerial view drawing. "Frank Lloyd Wright Monograph 1887-1901", Vol. 1.
 
11: Circa 1920-1923. Striped awning has been added to the left side of the Lobby. Awning frame also visible in the upper Lobby/ Terrace. Glass or screens have enclosed the Gallery. A smoke stack appears by the chimney. Published by V.O. Hammon Publishing Company, which published pictorial postcards from 1904 until 1923
 
12: Circa 1920-1923. Published by V.O. Hammon Publishing Company, which published pictorial postcards from 1904 until 1923.
 
13: Circa 1920-1924. Very similar time frame to #11. Awning on left side of Lobby is rolled up. Real photo Post Card. (J.J. Gregory - Cedar Rapids, Ia)
 
13a: Circa 1926.  Image from Picturesque Lake Geneva (Published by the Wisconsin Transportation Company, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, 1926)
 
14: Very similar to #13, but flags have been removed. Stripes on awning very visible. Horizontal evergreen trees, 5-6 feet tall, are visible in the right Planter.
 
15: Circa 1935. Viewed from the Municipal Recreation Building. Bridges across the lagoon have been built as well as the rockery along the lagoon’s edge. Published in 1935 (5A-H328), PM July 7, 1950.
 
16: Circa 1938. Viewed from across the lagoon. Horizontal evergreen trees, 8-10 feet tall. Smoke stack either removed or retouched out. Globe lights removed or retouched out as well as the Lobby gutters. Arched windows above Lobby. Published in 1938 by E. A. Bishop (8A-H609), PM Aug 22, 1944.
 
17: Awning on the left side of the Lobby has been changed. Automobiles are of an older vintage. Tree to the left of the Lobby and tall evergreens are consistent with #16. Brick at street entry in the bottom right has been added. (Published by L. L. Cook Co., Milwaukee) “Beautiful Hotel Geneva, Lake Geneva, Wis. #B-1290". Real Photo Post Card, Postmark August 27, 1947.
 
17a: "Scene at Lake Geneva." Circa 1940s. 
 
18: E.C. Kropp Co., Milwaukee, Wis. #7285.
 
19: Street sign and lamp post are gone. Brick entry has been added to both sides of the drive. Flags have been added to the upper terrace of the Lobby. Published by Fairbanks Card Company, Brookline, Mass.
 
20: Circa 1950. Single lamp post has been added in the street. Vertical evergreen trees in front of the Lobby have been removed. Automobiles are of an older vintage. Published by the E.F. Godfrey in 1950, OC-H1943.
 
21: Circa 1950. This is one of the earlier glossy color photographs, so either the color is off, or the building has been painted golden yellow. The tall evergreens are back in front of the Lobby. Lettering above the Lobby has been changed to an outlined text. Published by E. F. Godfrey, Lake Geneva, Wis. in 1950, #OC-K400.
 
22: Circa 1953. Color is clearly back to a white color. Flags on the two corners of the Lobby Terrace have been removed. Clear size relationship of the stair pedestal with the woman standing next to it on the left. Published by L.L. Cook Co. in 1953. (#405. #67711.)
 
22a: Circa 1955. Hotel Geneva. “Hermansen’s Hotel Geneva. A fine Resort Hotel on the Lake - in town. Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Copyright 1955, The L. L. Cook Co. #88163. From a Natural Color Transparency. The L. L. Cook Co., Milwaukee, Wis.”
 
23: Circa 1950s. The tall evergreens in front of the Lobby are very tall. Published by Colourpicture Publishers, #P22375. Wisconsin Post Card Co. Most likely Mid 50's.

 

Text by Douglas M. Steiner, Copyright 2008
 
 
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