Newspaper-Real Estate Schemes of the 1920s

Pell Lake and Other Vacation Colonies for Working Class Subscribers

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About the Book

In the 1920s, newspapers and real estate developers colluded in a scheme to sell tiny vacation lots to subscribers. A zealous advertising campaign spawned a land-buying frenzy that sprouted dozens of waterfront summer colonies across the country. The resulting legal, social and environmental mayhem caused some of these communities to disappear or be drastically altered in character, while others managed to survive more or less intact.

Drawing on newspaper accounts of the day, this book explores how the scheme eluded accusations of fraud, creating an assembly line for middle class resorts through a lucrative merger of real estate and journalism. Pell Lake, Wisconsin, serves as a case study that yields the best evidence for determining if it was all a scam. Told here for the first time, the story of this unusual alliance and the communities it created offers lessons for today’s entrepreneurs, journalists, advertisers, real estate developers, environmentalists and anyone who has ever lived in a resort community.

About the Author(s)

Margaret B. Barker is a retired attorney living in Madison, Wisconsin. She has written for legal publications and, with a strong interest in family history, has had several articles published in genealogical journals.

Bibliographic Details

Margaret B. Barker
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 245
Bibliographic Info: 26 photos, appendix, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2021
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8181-8
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4179-9
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface 1
Introduction 3
1. The Lake, the Farmer and the Dentist 7
2. Creating a Newspaper Colony 16
3. The Genesis of the Scheme 28
4. Closing In on the Deal 40
5. The Early Colonies and the Promotional Articles 54
6. The Later Colonies and the Display Ads 69
7. The Economic Aftermath 91
8. Hybrids and Clones 102
9. William Randolph Hearst 116
10. Environmental Factors 128
11. Legal Aspects 136
12. Racial Issues 144
13. Social Considerations 156
14. Pell Lake in Context and Comparison 171
Conclusion 187
Appendix: Resort Locator 193
Chapter Notes 199
Bibliography 221
Index 233