Culver’s Lake was a point of destination for families from urban areas looking to get out to the country for maybe just a week or perhaps an entire summer. Going back more than 100 years, summer homes sprung up all around the lake. About half a dozen hotels, of varying sizes, were built at different points around the lake. Some of the smaller hotels or guest houses were later enlarged to accommodate the ever-increasing number of seasonal visitors, tourists, hunters, and fishermen. These hotels included the Culver Inn, Creamont (later Normanock View Hotel and Royal Hotel), Normanock Inn, Culvermere, Haltere (later Blair Haven) and the Mountainside Inn.
One of these guest houses was the Maryland Vacation House, which was located on Lower North Shore Road. Immediately to the east of the Maryland was the Lake View House, and to the west was the Mountainside Inn. The Mountainside was the largest hotel on the lake; it was three-stories high and had rooms in the attic. Directly on the opposite side of Lower North Shore Road was the Maryland House Annex, which provided for any overflow of registered guests.
From this location, guests of the Maryland House had a clear view south at the entire length of the beautiful 555-acre lake. And to their right (west) lay the majestic Kittatinny Mountain range. In the fall, these mountains would provide a splendid display of nature’s colors, even in the cold November rain.
The vast majority of guests would stay for a week or more at a time. These guest houses, inns, and hotels catered to vacationers who were looking for simpler activities and enjoyed the quiet lifestyle in the country, surrounded by forests, mountains, and lakes. Like the other public lodgings around the lake, the Maryland Vacation House offered their guests hiking, fishing, swimming, and boating activities.
While some guests arrived by private automobiles, others arrived by train at the Branchville station of the Sussex Railroad (later Lackawanna Railroad). The proprietors knew when their guests were scheduled to arrive at the station and made arrangements to go to the borough to pick them up and bring them back to their establishments.
The Maryland Vacation House was two-stories high, five bays wide on the roadside and had a slate shingled hipped roof. The side of the building facing the road had a porch which extended the full length of the structure and was enclosed with half walls surmounted with screened panels between the porch posts, making for a pleasant place to sit and enjoy a summer afternoon. As was the custom of the first half of the 20th century, the windows had retractable canvas awnings over them to provide a way of preventing the sunlight from heating up a room, while still allowing a breeze from the side of the mountain to enter.
The Maryland Vacation House’s proprietors, J. M. Boteler, Jr. and his wife, offered to both their guests and the public something that was not otherwise available on that end of the lake — a confectionery ice cream (manufactured by the J. M. Horton Ice Cream Company) and other refreshments. By 1920, the Horton Ice Cream Company promoted itself as the largest ice cream manufacturing company in the world, and provided more than half of New York City’s ice cream for retail sales.
It is not known exactly what year the Maryland House ceased operations. However, it would seem logical that with the financial problems caused by the Great Depression and the difficulties experienced prior to the outbreak of World War II, one may surmise that the Maryland House closed just prior to the end of 1941. This was the case with many of the other hotels and inns around the lake.
Sussex County Historical Society President Wayne T. McCabe is the history columnist for the New Jersey Herald and may be contacted at [email protected]