By Ana Martinez-Ortiz
It’s officially fall or autumn as some people prefer to call it. The air has turned crisp and the blue of Lake Michigan has become even sharper. While Milwaukee encourages residents to embrace the changing foliage, sip on a piping pumpkin spice and carve a rotund pumpkin or two, there’s a place nearby that encapsulates fall. It goes by the name of Lake Geneva.
While in Lake Geneva, residents and visitors can witness the colors turn from green to red, orange and yellow. They can enjoy a tour of its proud mansions, and even spend a night in Maxwell Mansion. However, if they’re looking for something a little more low-key, they could drive to Lake Ivanhoe. Five miles away from Lake Geneva and the bustling tourist attraction, Lake Ivanhoe is a 46-acre area of land and lake— ideal for a weekend getaway.
Lake Ivanhoe, located in Walworth County, was established in 1926, by several prominent African-Americans: Jeremiah Brumfield, Bradford Watson, and Frank Anglin. They were well known in the city of Chicago for their leadership. Through their combined efforts, Lake Ivanhoe became Wisconsin’s “first and only black-owned community.”
In her article, “Building A Dream” by Lisa Schmelz, she addresses the bravery of these founding men who were determined to create a place for them to enjoy, relax and vacation. According to Schmelz, the streets were all named after historical African American figures and events.
To this day, of the couple hundred residents who continue to live there year-round, only a few can claim to be direct descendants of the town’s founders.
Soon after its establishment, the town became known as a vacation hotspot, particularly for African Americans families hailing from Chicago. Part of what made the town a favorite, aside from the scenic route and relaxing atmosphere, is that Lake Ivanhoe offered a plethora of activities from beauty contests, slot machines, and fishing derbies. The lake makes for an idealistic spot to stop, plus visitors have access to the public boat landing.
Lake Ivanhoe offers reprieve throughout the year. It is a favorable fishing spot, with the lake sporting panfish, largemouth bass, and Northern pike.
Lake Ivanhoe plays host to historical significance in Wisconsin and the black community— Schmelz called it a “slice of history.”
Although easy to miss, Lake Ivanhoe can be located just off Highway 50. All are welcome to partake in the beautiful sights, with the crunch of leaves underfoot and the horizon of trees overhead.