High up on a hill overlooking Lake Washington, not far from Mankato, Minnesota, a beautiful resort hotel called the Belvedere was opened to the public sometime between 1898 and 1900. It was built by Louis A. Linder, a well known businessman from Mankato. The summer hotel quickly became a vacation magnet and popular spot for honeymooners, with wealthy patrons coming from as far away as Chicago. It wasn’t an easy hotel to visit in the early 1900’s. Guests first arrived in the town of Mankato by train, after which they traveled by horse and buggy to Connors’ Farm, just across the lake from the hotel. The last leg of their trip was taken by ferry. One year in a bad storm the ferry sank, but the hotel patrons all survived. The ferry still sits on the bottom of this deep lake today.
It was on a honeymoon stay at the hotel that led William and Inez Wood to purchase the building in 1921 as their summer home. They had an idea to establish a beach resort at the bottom of the hill along the lake’s shoreline. With the help of their six children, Wood’s Beach became a spectacular beach resort and picnic grounds that attracted weekend visitors from over four counties for more than thirty years. During the 1920’s and 1930’s, the five Wood sons and their father constructed an amazing array of water attractions to please and entertain every member of the family: a very high slide, a lower slide, a water wheel, diving docks, rolling barrels, and rafts. It was a big operation that rented boats and canoes, and even bathing suits. Many people at that time did not own bathing suits, so they paid ten cents to rent a scratchy woolen one, changing in a special beach house on the shores of the lake. The Beach closed down in 1948 and pieces of the original property were slowly sold off. Today, the main house remains with 300 feet of shoreline and stunning views of the lake and sunsets.
The money earned from summer rentals paid for the college education of all six Wood’s children, all of them obtaining higher degrees and having very successful careers.
Delbert L. “Buck” Wood graduated from the St. Paul College of Law. He worked for the FBI for six years during which he headed up investigations of the Capone
Gang and other Mafia organizations. J. Edgar Hoover awarded him three commendations for his outstanding work in the Bureau.
Harland Goff Wood attained international fame in biochemical research. His revolutionary discovery early in his career in 1935 that not only plants, but also animals and humans utilize carbon dioxide for metabolic processes (“CO2 fixation”), resulted in him being nominated twice for the Nobel Prize. Harland also served on the President’s Scientific Advisory Commission under both Presidents Johnson and Nixon.
After graduating from Macalaster College in St. Paul, Louise Wood worked with the National Red Cross in Europe during World War II. Based in London, she directed the USO operations for the American Red Cross for the entire European Theater of Operations. For her efforts and accomplishments in the Red Cross, President Truman awarded her the Medal of Freedom.
Earl H. Wood was internationally celebrated in both cardiology and aerospace medicine. During WWII he was a key figure in the top-secret research at Mayo to develop an anti-gravity “G” suit, and perfected the centrifuge, as well as developed the “M-1” straining/ expiration maneuver to assist pilots in maintaining consciousness when pulling high G’s.
The home is currently For Sale with additional information at the property website.Used seasonally as a summer residence, the home is perfect for year round use or potential B&B, and needs updating. This historic property is looking for a preservation minded buyer who will restore the home and love it as much as the Wood’s family has for the last 94 years.