Researched and written by David Glick
It was 1954. As a young "full-summer Lakesider" we are standing in front of the 1905 fire station, thinking about helping to tear it down to begin construction on the new building - which remains today on Second Street as the Lakeside Laundromat. "Full-summer Lakesiders'" knew most of the "Locals," as these were the men and women who taught in the local schools, waited on you in the stores and restaurants, painted your cottages, and kept the village alive during its ten-month "off-season." While "Summer People" tended to come and go from one year to the next, the Locals - like the dock - were sure to be there when the new season beckoned.
An elderly "local," Frank Baldwin, walked up to us at the fire station and began to tell us a wide range of stories about the seven General Managers he had lived under in Lakeside. We were especially interested in Mr. Baldwin's unflattering memories of the reign of Rev. C. W. Taneyhill, who left town 50 years earlier.
Was Mr. Baldwin a typical local or someone with a rusty, fifty-year-old ax to grind?
We decided to see what we could learn about the elderly gent. The lakeside Heritage Archive provided a wealth of information on Frank Baldwin. He was born c. 1882 in Alexandria Bay, New York. In 1902, he and a brother, Ford Baldwin, came to the Peninsula to operate the former St. Marie and Ward Grocery store in a small frame building on the site of the present Starcher Enterprises building in western Marblehead. What brought them to Marblehead remains a mystery, but, like so many other locals, it provided a direct link between Lakeside and Marblehead merchants.
In 1905, the Baldwin brothers left their Marblehead business. There is no record of where Ford went, but Frank came to Lakeside to join the Carroll Brothers, who were occupying a brand new cement block general store, where Sloopy's Sports Cafe is housed today. The building had replaced a wooden store that had been destroyed on the same corner by the big fire of February 2 of that year.
Was it romance that brought Frank to Lakeside? On March 26 of 1906, after merely a few months at the Carroll store, he married his bosses' widowed sister, Mary Jane Capes. She was one of five Carroll sisters. In 1894, Mary Jane had married Albert L. Capes, who had worked for Kelly Island Lime & Transport Company. They were blessed with two children: Carroll A. in 1895 and Helen A. in 1896. But Albert Capes suddenly passed in 1900. So by 1906, twenty-four year old Frank Baldwin was a stepfather of two and an extended member and employee of the Carroll family - a true Lakeside Local.
A brief summary of some of the events of Frank's Lakeside years:
His twenty-five year old stepdaughter, Helen (a Danbury High School graduate) lost her battle with tuberculosis. Around this time, Frank left the Carroll Brothers Store after 16 years of employment and became the local agent for the Prudential Insurance Company.
He built and occupied the fine cottage that remains at 203 Lynn Avenue.
He was one of eighteen Locals admitted to membership in the Lakeside Volunteer Fire Protective Association, the first new group of men admitted since 1905.
His wife of thirty years, Mary Jane, passed at the age of 59.
He moved across Second Street to 185 Lynn as a boarder in the home of Jennie Mapes, who had become a widow earlier that year after her husband, Earl Orlo Mapes died. He spent the next nineteen years as her boarder, an arrangement quite common before retirement homes were widely accessible.
He sold 203 Lynn Ave. to another Local, Leroy "Roy" Luebcke, who was Lakeside Superintendent of Grounds.
His stepson, Carroll, died at age 54.
May 24, 1956
Frank Edwin Baldwin, aged 73, died in Magruder Hospital after an extended illness. Appropriately, his funeral services were conducted by Lakeside's General Manager, Dr. Herbert Thompson. He was survived by his brother and former partner in the Marblehead store, Ford Baldwin of Oberlin, Ohio.
Thus Frank Baldwin was a fairly typical Lakeside Local - having close relationships with fellow winter residents, owning a home on leased land under seven general managers whom he had no vote in electing. But he did his part in making a Chautauqua resort a real community, serving his fellow Locals, as well as the Summer People in a number of ways, including protecting the village and its surroundings from fire. Could it be that while the vast majority of Independent Chautauquas disappeared, Lakeside survived, at least partly because Locals like Frank Baldwin kept it alive?