Imagine yourself at the Blue Lantern on a sultry Sunday evening in 1926, a warm breeze wafting through the building, the sun gleaming off the lake. You are dancing to some of the best jazz ever played.
The history of the Hudson Lake Casino (the historic Blue Lantern) goes back to its construction in 1914 by William and Avella Smith. The Smith’s had previously built a hotel which was located across the street from the casino in 1885, a general store, and a boat ramp.
They were instrumental in popularizing Hudson Lake as a resort destination. At the height of its popularity, Hudson Lake was a resort mecca complete with hotels, camping and picnic grounds, swimming, boating, fishing, dancing, and more. It became a popular place for large company picnics and family reunions.
After World War I, the Smith’s brought in jazz bands for entertainment. There was no admission charge to the casino. The entertainment was paid for by selling dance tickets for 10 cents. In 1925, the casino was enlarged and improvements made to the interior.
The summer of 1926 was a memorable one as the Casino was leased by the Smith’s to Jean Goldkette of the Jean Goldkette Orchestra who renamed it the Blue Lantern and brought some of the most famous jazz musicians of the time to Hudson Lake.
The complete Hudson Lake orchestra would include Goldkette “Victor Orchestra” regulars Leonard “Doc” Ryker on sax, Fred “Fuzzy” Farrar on trumpet, Irving “Itzey” Riskin on piano, and Frank Trumbauer on C melody sax, Bix Biederbecke on cornet, Sonny Lee on trombone, Pee Wee Russell on clarinet and sax, Dee Orr on drums, Dan Gaebe on bass, and Frank Diprima on banjo.
The group opened up for the Blue Lantern on May 22, 1926. Admission was $1.50 and dance tickets were 10 cents. Sunday was the big day as train loads of people came out from Chicago and neighboring towns and cities to dance. Some of the other bands to play at Hudson Lake included the Paul Whiteman Orchestra, Lola Trowbridge and the Indianans, and the Rag Pickers Five.
The music continued throughout the 1920s and early 30s. The casino felt the effects of the Depression and the music stopped.
The building was sold in 1939 and attempts to revive the music and dancing failed. Over the next decades the building was used as a roller rink and boat storage. The building is now used for special events and houses the popular Monroe’s Crossing Restaurant which is operated by Rich and Leslie Monroe.
Prohibition Party FUN-draiser
Historic New Carlisle, Inc. hopes to recreate an evening from 1926 at their Roaring 20s Prohibition Party FUN-draiser. Get your glad rags on for the swankiest affair of the summer! The event starts with a sneak peek of Hoosiers and Their Hooch traveling exhibit from the Indiana Historical Society at the Old Republic from 5:30 – 7:00 pm. Light refreshments and photo opportunities available. Then, motor down to Monroe’s Crossing on Hudson Lake for a party guaranteed to be the Bee’s Knee’s! Doors open at 6:30 pm EST.
Enjoy live music from Chicago's West End Jazz Band, food, silent auction, photo booth, costume contest, and signature drinks.
Pre-paid reservations required by calling Historic New Carlisle, Inc. at 574-654-3897 or you can log on to www.historicnewcarlisle.org and there is a link on the home page to purchase tickets with a credit card. Cost is $35.00 per person. There will be a cash bar.
The Hoosiers and Their Hooch Traveling Exhibit will be on display at the Old Republic from July 18th through Sunday, July 31st. Exhibit hours are Monday – Friday 10 am – 4 pm and Saturday and Sunday of Hometown Days noon – 4 pm