In the early 1920’s a young St. Louis couple – William and Cora Beals – searched the Great Lakes to find the region’s most beautiful beach. When they arrived at the point where the waters of the Crystal River flowed into Lake Michigan they knew they had found it.
They purchased the waterfront Glen Arbor property in 1924 and started a camp offering wholesome outdoor experiences. Within a few years, satisfied parents asked the Beals to add a boarding school.
Construction on the school started in the summer of 1929. The Great Depression followed, as did hard times. Barter became the currency of the day. In spite of the challenges, the “homestead” was completed in 1932.
For decades, students used The Homestead in the winter and “resorters” in the summer. With time, the Beals’ successors decided to relocate the camps, contract the school and sell The Homestead.
A Michigan family purchased the resort in 1975 and spent a year researching and planning. They identified and studied a new type of destination resort that offered a wide range of recreational and housing choices while emphasizing protection of the natural environment. That work had strong impacts on the master plan that was prepared and the development that followed.
Today, much and little has changed. The beaches are still among the best in Michigan– not to mention the country. Wholesome outdoor experiences are still the order of the day. Students are studying at the school next door. Leelanau resorters are enjoying luxurious facilities with commanding views of Lake Michigan, the Sleeping Bear Dunes, and the Crystal River Valley.