Sammamish Plateau: Andy's Beaver Lake Resort

  • By Phil Dougherty
  • Posted 6/17/2007
  • Essay 8183

The Four Seasons Resort on the southwestern end of Beaver Lake, located on the Sammamish Plateau in east King County, was built about 1936 by Gus and LuLu Bartels. By the late 1930s it had become a popular recreation spot, and its popularity continued to grow during the 1940s. In 1950 the Bartels sold the resort to Dick and Ruth Anderson, who renamed it Andy’s Beaver Lake Resort and operated it until 1960. It now belongs to King County and is called Beaver Lake Park. This account, prepared by Sammamish Heritage Society historian Phil Dougherty, is based on May 2007 interviews of Ruth Anderson (b. 1909) and her three children, Doug Anderson (b. 1938) Lori Anderson Lenshaw (b. 1938) and Judi Anderson (b. 1939). It is reprinted with the kind permission of the Sammamish Heritage Society.

Andy's Beaver Lake Resort

Early in 1950, Dick Anderson (1912-1968) was working as a toll test board operator in downtown Seattle. But he was looking for a change, and was particularly interested in moving to the country and opening a resort. He looked at several in King County with no luck. Then one night he and his wife, Ruth, were at a square dance. Anderson struck up a conversation with Reiff French, owner of the Pine Lake Resort (more typically known as “Frenchie’s”) on the Sammamish Plateau. French told Anderson about the Four Seasons Resort on Beaver Lake, owned by Gus and Lulu Bartels. The price was right -- $85,000 for 85 acres, of which fewer than half were developed -- and the terms reasonable; Bartels allowed the Andersons to pay off the purchase in installments. “We sold our house in Seward Park in Seattle to make the down payment,” said Ruth Anderson, and on July 15, 1950, the Andersons assumed de facto ownership of the resort. Although the resort was known as Andy’s Beaver Lake Resort (often just called “Andy’s”) from then on, it was 1956 before the Andersons actually paid off the debt and assumed full legal ownership of the resort.    

In 1950 the resort was well established, having been a popular recreational magnet on the southwestern shore of Beaver Lake for more than a decade.  The entry to the resort was farther east than today's (2007) entry to the park  -- it was at the bend in the road on SE 24th (which the Andersons knew in the 1950s as Beaver Lake-Pine Lake Road). The resort’s entry was framed with two stone pillars and a large, thick green-and-cream sign that read “Beaver Lake Resort” perched atop the pillars.

The resort had a lodge, which was right on the southwestern shore of the lake. The lodge itself served as the Anderson’s home; there was a recreation room attached (originally the Four Seasons Lodge dining room), and changing rooms downstairs for people coming in from a dip in the lake.  Occasionally the Rec Room also served as a second dance hall for smaller groups.  People who visited the lodge during its earliest years in the 1930s report that guests slept on the upper floor of the lodge, but at some point -- probably not long after the lodge itself was built -- Gus Bartels built a dormitory and a clubhouse, and by the time the Andersons took over in 1950, the lodge itself served as their home.

The dormitory was located on “Baby Beaver” Lake, a much smaller lake located immediately southwest of Beaver Lake (a third lake, “Little Beaver” Lake, is located just north of the northeastern shore of Beaver Lake.) The one-story dormitory could sleep up to 30 people.  The beds were not grouped in a common area but were instead set up in small alcoves, which afforded the sleeper some measure of privacy.  The resort’s clubhouse was located where the lodge is today and was a little less rustic than the dormitory.   The clubhouse had a common area in the middle and two large sleeping rooms (one for men and one for women) on each side, and could sleep up to 44 people. The clubhouse is the only structure from the resort which survives today, although it has been extensively remodeled, with an extension added on its west end.  Now known as “The Lodge at Beaver Lake,” it serves as a meeting place for banquets and receptions.

A dance hall was located at the same place as today’s totem pole pavilion.  The dance hall was a popular draw in its day -- a number of concerts featuring local bands were held there, and Quincy Jones played there as a high school student just a year or so before the Andersons bought the resort.  A jukebox provided tunes when live music was not available. The dance hall itself was a larger building than the totem pole shelter, as this building housed the resort’s kitchen and grocery store, located just behind the dance hall. 

The resort had a boathouse on the shore north of the lodge.  Rowboats and small paddleboats were available in the 1930s. But by Anderson’s day the boat rentals had expanded to include nine Willits Brothers canoes and 34 cedar and plywood rowboats which could be fitted with small electric motors if you couldn’t (or wouldn’t) row.  The resort also sported a tennis court and four baseball diamonds.

Early in his tenure at the lake Anderson added a horse concession. Managed by Cliff “Teet” Pearce, the concession rented out eight to 15 horses during the summer. Pearce kept the horses at his farm but brought them to the resort daily, where they were kept in a corral for daytime rides. This was the only addition Anderson made to the resort during his 10 years as owner; “everything else was already there,” said Doug Anderson.  

Bartels also built 15 cabins at the resort during the 1930s. Five of these cabins were located south of the lodge along the lakeshore, and all but one of the others ran along either side of a dirt road starting just south of the lodge itself and following the road in an arc stretching back away from the lake (a walking trail runs through this spot today).  Fourteen cabins were available to rent. An additional cabin, located between the resort entrance and the lodge, was used by the summer caretakers. In the 1950s these caretakers were an older couple who did handyman jobs and cleaned the cabins. The cabins came in various sizes, from single-room cabins to larger cabins with two bedrooms and a living area.  In the 1950s cabins rented from $4.50 to $8 a day or from $25 to $45 a week.  All of the cabins had indoor plumbing, electricity, “iceboxes” provided in lieu of refrigerators, and wood-burning cook stoves (which Anderson upgraded to propane during his tenure). Picnic areas dotted the road alongside the cabins.

The resort opened to the public when fishing season started, which in the 1950s was the third Sunday in April, and it closed on the last Sunday in October, when fishing season ended.  “Opening day was a big deal,” remarked the Anderson’s daughter Judi. “Fishing was better in the spring before the water got warmer.”  Beaver Lake was home to rainbow and cutthroat trout, perch, bass, and catfish, though in the early 1950s, the Washington State Department of Game (now the Department of Fish and Wildlife) poisoned the lake in order to make it solely a rainbow trout lake. But spring was also the start to other activities at the resort, which accelerated when summer arrived. The resort hosted company and church picnics as well as camps put on by the Red Cross, Boy Scouts, and people with cerebral palsy, to name a few.

Though the resort was closed between the end of October and April, Andy’s informally hosted ice skating parties for the local residents during the winter if it was cold enough.  In the 1950s the weather on the lake trended somewhat colder than it does today, and the lakes froze more often -- “even Big Beaver froze about once every three years,” noted Judi Anderson.    

Andy’s Beaver Lake Resort’s final day was Labor Day, September 5, 1960.  None of the family seemed to recall any specific reason why Dick Anderson decided to sell, other than he simply decided it was time to move on.  By this time development was starting to edge toward Beaver Lake from the west, but Anderson did not want the resort divided up into lots. He sold the 85 acres for $250,000 to the Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle for use by the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO), and the CYO established a youth camp at the resort site called Camp Cabrini. The camp operated until 1985, when King County purchased the site for a park, now known as Beaver Lake Park.

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