As stated on a business card, it was “real country home cooking” and it was served to the order. The country home cooking could be found at Morrison’s Chicken Dinners at Lake Wawasee.
Morrison’s Chicken Dinners was located in what later became a lake summer cottage along Highland View Drive in the Highland View Gardens subdivision, also in the old Vawter Park area. Even more specifically, it was on the south side of Lake Wawasee.
According to Ken Bolles, a brother to Chuck Bolles who owns the summer cottage now, the building was built sometime in the 1880s. Apparently it was originally built as a restaurant, which would have been more typical in that era when the lake was nowhere near developed with homes as it is now.
Information about Morrison’s Chicken Dinners is limited. There is a sign still hanging on the door leading into what was the cooking and serving area for the restaurant. It indicates chicken dinners, lunches and soft drinks were served. Also, there was dancing, room and board by the day or week, bathing suits and boats for rent and automobile storage available.
Another sign hanging above windows was apparently a directional sign of some type. It has the name of the business on it with an image etched of a finger pointing.
Anna Morrison, wife of Marion Morrison, was the cook. It is said she would get to the restaurant by rowing a boat across Lake Wawasee.
Bolles noted the restaurant closed sometime in the 1920s. This is consistent with other available information. Syracuse-Wawasee Historical Museum has a business card for Morrison’s showing it was located in Highland View Gardens. According to the Kosciusko County Area Planning Office, the subdivision was originally platted and recorded in 1924.
Also on the business card, it noted the restaurant was located one-half mile east of the South Shore Inn. South Shore Inn was built sometime in the 1920s after the old Vawter Park Hotel had burned down and then another hotel replacing it had burned down too.
A search on NewspaperArchive.com of old Syracuse newspapers using several different keywords did not locate any specific references to Morrison’s Chicken Dinners. There was a reference in the March 21, 1912, Syracuse Journal to Mr. and Mrs. Marion Morrison entertaining several friends at a 6 p.m. chicken dinner in the Vawter Park area.
When the building became a summer cottage, additions were later made to the front and rear of the building. The Bolles family purchased it in the 1950s and have owned it since then.
Next door to the west of the cottage is what was known as the “toothpick house” because it is tall and skinny, sits on a hill and kind of stands out to the surrounding area. It once served as an inn where rooms were rented out. Bolles noted when bands and entertainers came to the lake to perform, they would typically stay at places like this because the larger hotels were booked full with summer guests.
Debbie Leonard, an aunt of Ken and his siblings, owns the old toothpick house.
NOTES: Next I will write about the old Miller’s Landing area at Webster Lake. If you have any comments or suggestions for future articles, call me at (574) 658-4111, extension 2306, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.