Beverly Shores is both far from it all and nearby

2012-03-04T00:00:00Z 2014-07-22T16:09:53Z Beverly Shores is both far from it all and nearbyBy Joyce Russell joyce.russell@nwi.com, (219) 762-1397, ext. 2222 nwitimes.com

BEVERLY SHORES | This tiny town, nestled on the south shore of Lake Michigan, has it all for residents.

It's surrounded by nature, but close enough to any amenity a resident could desire.

Town Council President Geof Benson moved to the town in 1989 for the same reasons many of the slightly more than 600 permanent residents reside in Beverly Shores.

"It is the proximity to the lake, the trees, the wetlands and the diverse wildlife. In addition, it's the proximity to the South Shore. It's a mile and a half walk for me to get to the train station," he said.

"There are a lot of things special about it. Nature is all around, and if your backyard isn't nature enough, a block out of your back door is the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore," said Benson.

The town does live in a bit of a time freeze with little development, but it also has its history, home to six buildings that once were part of the 1933 Chicago World's Fair and other structures known for their architecture.

The town's roots date back to 1927 when Chicago real estate developer Frederick Bartlett purchased 3,000 acres along the Lake Michigan shore to become an urban resort community. Thousands of Chicagoans rode special trains to Beverly Shores by the summer of 1929 as potential buyers.

In 1933 Frederick Bartlett sold the property to his brother, Robert, who continued to develop the land, building a school, seasonal hotel, botanic gardens, golf course, riding academy and theater. In 1935, 16 structures from the Chicago World's Fair were moved across the lake to Beverly Shores.

By 1946 Robert Bartlett sold most of his property. The resort community incorporated as a town effective Jan. 1, 1947.

The town developed slowly over the next few decades, and in the 1960s the creation of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore enveloped nearly two-thirds of the town. Ultimately the national park boundaries expanded. The town now consists of the center of the community, known as "the island," and land bordering U.S. 12, known as "the strip" remain as Beverly Shores.

Less than 50 percent of its residents live there full time, said Benson, and the town saw a loss of 13 percent of its population in the last census.

Like any community, it has its issues. Officials are working on a stormwater management plan, and work continues on improving staircases to the beach thanks to a grant from the Lake Michigan Marina Development Commission.

Volunteer organizations run town activities such as the Association for Beverly Shores Residents' annual Necktie Run, a 5K event held over Father's Day weekend, which, said Benson, sees people from all over participate.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.