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Turkeyfoot Island Club has history, lakeside setting

8/29/2013 - South Side Leader
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By Maria Lindsay

The club hosts a number of member activities, including a recent Hawaiian luau, with a decorated patio pictured above.
Turkeyfoot Island Club offers picturesque views of the lake.
Themed dinners are presented weekly for members. Shown are tables in the dining room set up for the Hawaiian luau.
Photos: Maria Lindsay
NEW FRANKLIN — Turkeyfoot Island Club has a history that is as picturesque as its setting.

According to documents compiled by club members, in 1876, Frank Samuel Lahm, a businessman from Mansfield, rode his horse down a trail in the Portage Lakes area looking for an investment and a place to build a home. At the time, area residents such as Lahm were looking for a serene lakeside setting away from the growing industrial city of Akron.

Lahm found such a spot in the 75-acre Turkeyfoot Island and purchased it. In 1877, he built the first permanent structure on the Portage Lakes. After some delay due to health reasons, around 1885 he built a home that offers a view of Turkeyfoot Lake, opposite Mason’s Point.

Lahm represented the Remington Typewriter Co. throughout Europe but came back to Ohio often to develop his island home. Over the years, he allowed some friends to build summer cottages on the island. In 1926, he added an enclosed porch that was built around an oak tree, with more rooms above the porch.

According to the documents, Lahm continued to enjoy lakeside living and developed an interest in piloting balloons, and in 1902, the U.S. military asked him to become a technical expert in balloon service during World War I. He continued to fly and compete in ballooning until his last flight in 1929 at age 83. During the years that airplanes were being invented, he became good friends with the Wright brothers, who visited Lahm on Turkeyfoot Island often. Lahm’s son, Frank Purdy Lahm, was influenced by the Wright brothers, and he became the first U.S. military pilot, according to the documents.

Today, the trail Lahm traveled in his search for a lakeside home is Lahm Drive, his home has become the Turkeyfoot Lake Island Club and there are 22 residents on the island who also co-own the clubhouse.

Club member Lucy Hunter said Turkeyfoot Island Club is “a historic place tucked away in a unique setting that few people know about.”

“We have maintained the home in its more natural setting,” said Hunter. “The long road to the clubhouse, Lahm Drive, is lined by mature maple trees that are backed by pine woods, and include an open wetland area with turtles, frogs, ducks, geese and herons.”

The clubhouse serves as a meeting place for its members and a place for weddings, birthdays, anniversaries and other celebrations. Dinners are offered on Wednesdays from May to the end of October. Many of the dinners are “themed” and include entertainment or activities for $25. The club does not have a liquor license, so members bring their own refreshments to the dinners and parties, according to club officials.

Themed parties also are offered and have included a Kentucky Derby Party, a boating poker run, a Hawaiian luau, a progressive dinner and an Oktoberfest. Potential members can attend a dinner to get a taste of the club and its activities, according to club officials.

“It’s like being on vacation all year long,” said Hunter on the benefits of membership. “It is always so beautiful, with lots of wildlife and boats going by.”

The club also has seven rooms available for rent for a weekend getaway, but no food service is available. There are also tennis courts on the grounds.

“We have tried to keep the original furnishings as best we could,” said Hunter. “The Victorian décor of the rooms reflects the era the home was built in.”

Hunter calls Turkeyfoot Island Club “an important part of the history of the Portage Lakes,” and club members have preserved that history in several scrapbooks that document the development of the club since the late 1880s.

For more information on the club, visit www.turkeyfootislandclub.com or contact club Manager Joann Nonno at 330-644-7797 or turkeyfootislandclub@yahoo.com.

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