Green Lake's Historic Terrace Beach: like everywhere, if you dig deep enough, you kind find a little history...
Terrace Beach is located on the northeast shoreline of beautiful Green Lake, WI. In the 1870’s, our property was part of the locally renowned 609 acre farm owned by Gen. John McDonald known as “Sunnyside.” Gen. McDonald was a close friend of President Ulysses S. Grant and was part of the infamous “Whiskey Ring” scandal that rocked President Grant’s second term in office and saw the assignment of America's first Special Prosecutor. Gen. McDonald returned to his Sunnyside farm for a time after being pardoned by Grant after serving 1½ years in prison due to the scandal. If interested, we have a copy of a book about John McDonald and the Whiskey Ring available for you to borrow during your stay.
In the 1890’s, the entire Terrace Beach shoreline, including our property, was owned by O.E. and Myrtle Meyer. In 1898, the Meyer’s built the “Terrace Casino” right along the shoreline just a few lots north of here. This huge building featured a restaurant, bar, theater, and a ballroom. The Meyer’s had planned to build a large hotel as well as cottages along Terrace Beach in addition to the casino. However, plans were dashed on October 18, 1899, when the Terrace Casino was completely destroyed in an early morning fire that claimed the lives of Myrtle’s parents. The origin of the fire was never determined.
Sometime after the destruction of the Terrace Casino, Terrace Beach was divided into smaller parcels. This property was sold by Edward Burnaby and Clara Pares of Wauwautosa, WI to William Parker of Green Lake in 1910. The property remained in the Parker family for the next thirty years, being owned by Sarah Parker starting in 1914, and then her daughter, Iome Parker Fitch, in 1919. The Parkers referred to the property as "Willow Lodge", but did not take renters.
Iome Fitch sold the property to Richard and Ora Deerwester in 1940. The Deerwesters named the property “Lake Shore Lodge” and opened the property to vacation renters. The three cottages by the lakeshore were brought to the property over the frozen lake from another Green Lake property in the 1940's. The ‘apartments’ at the top of the hill were built in the 1950's. The Deerwesters also rented bedrooms on the 2nd and 3rd stories of the main house. To this day, each of our kid’s upstairs bedrooms has its own sink and medicine cabinet/mirror, reminiscent of a bygone era.
Richard Deerwester passed away in 1961, and in 1967, Ora Deerwester sold the property to Mace and Dollie Miller. Mace was the third generation to farm his family’s farm north of Fairwater (about 9 miles SE of Green Lake) and Dollie was a “city girl” from Ripon who embraced country life while raising their two children, Jeff and Debbie. A few years after the death of Mace’s father/business partner, the Millers decided that they would like to pursue a new venture, and they began to look at small resorts for sale around Wisconsin. As fate would have it, Ora Deerwester decided that she was ready to retire from the lodging business around the same time, and the Millers were fortunate to have the opportunity to purchase this property on a lake they both had loved since childhood and was so close to their beloved farm, which they retained ownership of.
Renaming the property “Miller’s Lakeshore Resort,” Mace and Dollie poured their hearts and souls into it, creating a “little slice of heaven” where families for the next thirty years would make lifelong memories. Their incredible vision for the property and artistic skills can still be seen throughout the property with its gleaming white wrought iron trim, historic crane fountain, gorgeous stonework and stunning stained glass yard lamp (the stonework and lamp being built entirely by Mace with Dollie’s help). After retiring in 1997, Mace and Dollie continued to enjoy summers in their “big red house,” often being visited by past guests, whom the Miller’s felt “were like family.”
After Mace and Dollie Miller passed away in 2011, their son Jeff and his wife Debbie Lynn, and their daughter, Debbie Davis and her husband Tom, became owners of the property. This place was particularly special to Debbie, who loved living here in the summers as a teenager and helped Mace and Dollie clean cottages until their retirement. Debbie and Tom had held their wedding reception here in 1973, which was a special memory for both of them. After the deaths of her parents, Debbie, along with the help of her daughters, Wendy Long and Robyn Davis, rented the main house and the three cottages occasionally over the summers under the name “Lakeshore Retreat.” For the most part, though, immediate family took the opportunity to privately enjoy the property.
In 2017, Jeff and Debbie Miller and Debbie and Tom Davis sold the property to Debbie and Tom’s daughter and son-in-law, Wendy and J. Douglas Long. Wendy’s first job had been helping her grandparents, Mace and Dollie Miller, clean cottages every Saturday morning in the summers from 1988 until Mace and Dollie retired in 1997. Like Wendy’s parents, Doug and Wendy had their own wedding reception here in 1997. From 2003 to 2006, while also raising a family, and fixing up a farmette, Doug and Wendy rented the cottages and apartments, and maintained the lake property during the summer while Wendy’s grandparents still lived in the main house. During this time, Doug and Wendy learned much from Mace and Dollie that has been invaluable to both as the new owners of this beautiful property.
After much deliberation, Doug and Wendy decided to rename the property “Terrace Beach Retreat,” to reflect the historic name of this part of the lake. Since assuming ownership, Doug and Wendy have worked hard to restore and highlight what has made this beautiful property on Green Lake so unique and special for generations while updating the accommodations to be welcoming to today's vacationers.
Updates to the three cottages at the bottom of the hill were completed in July of 2018, and half of the apartment building at the top of the hill was completed in fall of 2022. Doug and Wendy are working to complete updates to the other half of the building in the near future.