The Lassen’s Resort has been a cultural icon to the Cedar Lake community for over a century. Originally opening as a hotel on May 7, 1921, the building is still thriving over 100 years later. The biggest difference now is the interior, as those who step inside the Lassen’s Resort today will find a museum that tells the story of the cultural history behind the beloved Northwest Indiana town.
“It's a step back in time,” said Julie Zasada, Executive Director of the Lassen’s Resort. “Our tagline is ‘the 1920s come alive on the lake,’ and that's exactly what people are going to feel and hear when they come into the building.”
Lassen’s Resort was converted from a hotel into a museum that opened in October 1986. With so much history held within the walls of the building, Zasada and her team are hard at work with the upkeep, making sure the building maintains its lovely historical charm.
“Our exhibitry focuses on the Cedar Lake community history, with a primary focus on its resort era from the 1880s until the 1930s,” Zasada said.
In the 1920s, Cedar Lake was the place to be for a local resort vacation – over 50 resorts populated the town at the height of the era. However, with the start of the Great Depression in the 1930s and the invention of the automobile, the way people were looking at vacations was changing. This greatly impacted Cedar Lake and added to the importance of preserving history through the Lassen’s Resort.
“It is the last cultural icon that is left in our community,” Zasada said. “We are the last building that you can enter into and have that transformative experience as if you have gone back into the 1920s. We're in there to present the relevance of your life's history, and why it was significant in the Region and some cases, even across the world.”
The resort has since become a great attraction for both Region natives and those from out of the area as well.
“Lassens offers folks near and far away to explore the history of Cedar Lake,” said Stephanie Smith, Manager of Communications for The South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority (CVA).
By preserving this history, Zasadsa hopes to connect past and present generations to keep the story of Cedar Lake alive for many years to come.
“We're such a rich, cultural experience for our community. We love connecting people to what used to be here, and then helping them make memories for future generations because we hope that children will come for a field trip or come for a visit with parents, and then they're going to want to bring families in the future because of the positive experiences and the good memories that they have,” she said.
The staff at the Lassen’s Resort is also very passionate about the work they do, and the enthusiasm is noted from the moment visitors first walk through the front doors.
“I have enjoyed working with Lassen's because of their passion for what they do,” Smith said, “Everyone there is very knowledgeable in the history and makes the experience a great one!”
The South Shore (CVA) has been a strong ally for the Lassen’s Resort. Through sponsorships, promotions, and other avenues, the South Shore CVA has found numerous ways to engage the community with the resort.
“They have been a strong advocate and supporter of our programming and events. They've sponsored a free admission day for us, where their community and tourists can come into the museum for free. They have also been promoters of our steamboat line. We have a steamboat experience called Ride the Dewey Line and that is a partnership with Steam Museum, where we have a 1915 steamboat and we give rides on Cedar Lake and talk about the resort's history. The South Shore CVA has been a strong partner in promoting that experience as well,” Zasada said.
The Lassen’s Resort is open for all to enjoy during the summer months with steamboat rides, museum tours, and other special events, including Track the Past Family Train Day on Saturday, October 8. The event is a partnership with Roundtoit Railroad Club and is a free admission day for everyone of all ages to see a variety of model railroad displays.