Novi To Add Historical Marker to Pavilion Shore Park
The city will add a structure to commemorate the land's historical use as Native American ground, an amusement park, a bathhouse and a dance hall.
Pavilion Shore Park has been undergoing a makeover, but the Novi City Council wants the area to keep its historic roots.
On Monday, Council discussed the addition of a historical icon at the park, which is located at 13 Mile and Old Novi roads. Throughout history, the area has been used by Native Americans, as a dance hall, as a bath house and as an amusement park.
Located at the north end of Novi near the Walled Lake border, Pavilion Shore Park used to be called The Landings Property. The city is currently working on the first phase of enhancements to the park, which includes the addition of concrete walking paths, several benches and a terraced stone waterfront.
Council was presented with two designs of the historical icon to discuss Monday night. The members agreed that they did not like the first design, which they felt looked like a miniature cell phone tower. The members did like the simplicity of the second design, which is inspired by the steel trellis structures of the historical amusement park. The second design would include interpretive panels with pictures and text that tell of each segment of history. Park visitors would be able to look over the land while reading about its former uses.
Although Council liked the second design, they agreed that they should hear more from community members before moving forward with the marker. The city plans to have discussions with long-time community members in January, as well as plan an open meeting for the public.
Mayor Pro-Tem Dave Staudt said the city could expand on the current design for the marker.
"This is something that's going to be there for a very long period of time, and it should truly reflect what's gone on at that property and some of the folks who were part of that are reaching a very late age, and it's one last opportunity to provide their input before we move forward," Staudt said.
The History of the Park
According to the information provided to the city council, historians believe that Native Americans camped on the shores of Walled Lake before the first settlers arrived in the 1830s. Several trails in the area suggest that the lake was an active area of settlement and trading.
In the 20th Century, the waterfront of the lake hosted a bathhouse, boating concessions, giant slides and the popular Casino Shore Pavilion dance hall.
The Walled Lake Casino was built in 1917 on the south end of the lake and included a 120' x 140' hardwood dance floor and a specially-designed wooden ceiling with hand-painted silk stars made to look like the night sky. Popular music groups of the period, including Benny Goodman, The Dorsey Brothers, Glenn Miller and Guy Lombardo performed there. The Casino was destroyed in a fire in 1922. It was immediately rebuilt, but again destroyed by fire in 1965.
Funded by Fred W. Pearce, the Walled Lake Amusement Park opened in May of 1929 to great success, drawing visitors from across Southeast Michigan. The park featured several rides, including a new coaster, called "The Flying Dragon." Fred Pearce Jr. took over the operations of the park when his father died in the 1960s, and he later sold it to the owners of Edgewater Park in Detroit. The park was closed in 1968.