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Beverly Shores Museum and Art Gallery exhibit to share town's history

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A new history exhibit at the Beverly Shores Depot Museum and Art Gallery will explain how the Duneland town of Beverly Shores came to be.

In June, the museum will host the 75th town anniversary exhibit. It looks back at how the town on Lake Michigan blossomed from one developer’s vision.

“What makes a community, and how do communities transform? What causes these changes, and how do individuals experience the transformation of their communities? In 1929, Frederick Bartlett, one of Chicago’s largest real estate developers, purchased 1,400 acres on the shores of Lake Michigan to create a lakeside resort community,” the museum said in a press release. “Borrowing styles popular in Florida resort communities, he attracted tourists to his planned town via the newly constructed South Shore Line. During the heyday of Bartlett’s community, the town had an inn, stables, golf course and clubhouse, a church, casino, art colony, tavern, theater, post office, fire department, school and several recreation areas.”

The local history exhibit opens June 10. An opening reception for the public to attend will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. that night.

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People can learn more about the lakefront town’s history, including the historic World’s Fair homes that look out over the Lake Michigan lakeshore and are now part of the Indiana Dunes National Park.

“The community experienced its first transformation with the onset of the Great Depression. In an attempt to continue the expansion of Beverly Shore despite financial pressures, Robert Bartlett, Frederick’s brother, capitalized on the success of the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair,” the museum said in a press release. “Bartlett moved futuristic model homes, such as House of Tomorrow, along with replicas of the nation’s most famous historical structures, for instance, George Washington’s Mount Vernon, to the beaches and wetlands of Beverly Shores. What emerged from Bartlett’s planning is one of the most architecturally diverse communities in Porter County.”

Beverly Shores eventually become a largely residential town that pulls in tourists to a few different National Park sites, including the Great Marsh Trail and the Dunewood Campground. It was incorporated as a town in Porter County 75 years ago.

“When Bartlett left Beverly Shores behind, selling his lands, the town was forced to incorporate in 1947 to provide services to residents of the community. The 1950s marked a period of stability with a mix of full and part-time residents,” the museum is a press release. “However, another transformation was on the horizon. In 1966 the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore was created. The town faced new pressures as two-thirds of the town became parkland. This year we celebrate 75 years of our incorporation.” 

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