Hormel’s home away from home in Clear Lake

Published 7:01 am Saturday, May 16, 2020

In May, 1915, 105 years ago, the George Hormel family was preparing to enjoy some time at their newly constructed lake home in Clear Lake, Iowa.  Dodge’s Point on the south side of Clear Lake was farmland that had been developed into a summer resort area with a golf course.  This is where several extensions of Hormels would ultimately spend over 40 years making memories of summertime fun.

The 35’ x 35’ framed home was designed by architect Harry Wild Jones, who had helped the Hormels renovate their Austin home (currently the Hormel Historic Home) in 1901.  The Mason City Globe Gazette reported on May 13, 1915, the following, apparently noteworthy, news.

The Hormel vacation home in Clear Lake, Iowa. Photo provided

“Finishing touches are being put on the fine new cottage of George A. Hormel, the Austin, Minn., packer.  The cottage is finished in pebble dashed cement and faces the lake.  The structure is now completed and was first occupied Sunday by Mr. Hormel and his family.  Work is now being done on the grounds about the building and will be finished within a few days.  The cottage is one of the finest on the lake.  A boat house, built over the water, is conveniently located in front of the cottage.”

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On July 1, 1915, the paper featured another mention of the Hormels’ recreation activities.

“Another fine boat arrived at the lake yesterday and will be launched this week.  The boat is owned by G. A. Hormel, the Austin, Minn., packer. It is a craft about thirty feet long, and has a four cylinder 50 horse motor in it.”

In case you are wondering, the average temperatures in May of 1915 in the Clear Lake area ranged from 64 degrees for a high and 44 degrees for a low, and eight inches of rain was reported during the month.  The high for that month of May was 87, reported on May 12.  In comparing weather data from 1915 with 2019, I found that we are trending hotter and drier than we were over 100 years ago.  I just found that interesting.

We have in the archives at the Hormel Historic Home video recordings of the Hormel family enjoying their Iowa property.  They swam, picnicked and entertained family in this special get away location.  As we are all experiencing another weekend of the stay at home order, I know many of you are eager to get away to your own lake retreats.  I hope you can do that soon, much like the Hormels did many years ago.

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