Initially the neighborhood was a family affair, with Edith’s brother Charles Barley owning a house three doors away and their grandmother’s oldest sister, Helen Stephenson Kleder, living two houses away in the opposite direction.
The Kiley brothers are the fourth generation of the family to own the property. It was passed down in 2008 as part of the family trust following the passing of their father, Mike, a well-known and much-loved member of the lake community. Mike served for 27 years on the Indiana DNR Commission, including 15 years as its chairman. Mike held joint ownership of the house with his mother, Louise Stephenson Kiley, until her passing in 1984. Each year, Mike and his wife, Carol, would host a cocktail party the third week of July. Mike’s birthday on July 15 often coincided with the party. This year would have marked Mike’s 80th birthday.
Dan’s and Matt’s sister, Ann, owns her own lake home in Minnesota but has spent countless days of her life with the family in Syracuse. Along with spending summers at the home, the entire family alternates celebrating either the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays on the shores of Wawasee. Since the cottage is winterized, it remains in use for other occasions throughout the year.
Currently, Dan’s wife, Susan, and their daughter, Madeline, along with Matt’s wife, Jane, and their sons Sean and Jake, live at the cottage during the summer months. Dan comes from Fishers and Matt from South Bend each summer weekend. Both families consider the residence to be a second home that allows them to get away from the city, relax and enjoy the lake. Dan and Susan Kiley have another daughter, Megan, who lives in Indianapolis and works for Indiana Sports Corporation.
The cottage was built in 1897 by Daniel Zook and has undergone only one major renovation, a 1936 addition of bedrooms and bathrooms, which brought the total to eight and five, respectively. Currently painted a striking blue, the house was historically white and remained that way until 2008. Dan’s and Matt’s father loved the tradition of the house and its colors, thus the painting, both inside and outside, was done only after Mike’s passing and at the behest his wife, Carol, who passed away in 2012.
Many notable events outside of the typical family gatherings have occurred at the cottage. The family has hosted political fundraising events for prominent Democratic leaders, including former Governors Joe Kernan; Frank O’Bannon; and Evan Bayh, who also served Indiana in the United States Senate; as well as for John Hillenbrand during his unsuccessful 1981 gubernatorial campaign against Robert Orr.
The legendary comedic duo Abbott and Costello once spent the night in the cottage in the 1940s, during their tour to raise money for war bonds during World War II.
The Kileys and three of their neighbors continue the Saturday evening neighborhood ritual of “tea time,” at which Dan Kiley jokes tea is rarely served. He noted that his grandfather worked as a beer distributor and frequently provided the libations for the weekly party.
Old traditions continue and new ones are being created as the next generation of the Kiley family comes of age and prepares to continue the family’s legacy on Lake Wawasee.