The History of The Oaks Lakeside Restaurant

What is now known as Chippewa Lake was carved from the wilderness over 12,000 years ago by glaciers.  The 385 acre oval that remains is the largest natural lake in Ohio.    It's name comes from the Chippewa tribe, known around the shores of the Great Lakes as "great fishermen".  The lake is spring-fed by Chippewa Creek, which continues to flow south through Wayne County on its way to the Ohio River.

 

The first recorded private ownership of the lake and surrounding property is from 1825 when Samuel Fowler obtained a grant of a large tract from the state of Connecticut, which owned the entire Western Reserve at the time.  As was the case for much of the Midwest, the area was heavily wooded with a wide variety of trees. 

By the late 1800's, farmers had found their way around the lake, which also became recognized as a pleasant vacation spot.  The Village of Chippewa-on-the-Lake was laid out in 1873, and before the end of that century, the Cleveland, Lorain & Wheeling Railroad built a track to the lakeshore to transport blocks of ice cut out during the winter.

In 1875, E. E. Andres, a druggist from Seville, Ohio purchased land at Chippewa Lake to fulfill his vision of a small summer resort.  That which was born would become known as Chippewa Lake Park.

The Townsend family was prominent in the Cleveland, Lorain & Wheeling Railroad company, which later became part of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad.  They came to Chippewa Lake in their private rail car and decided to purchase the Robb farm and additional acreage around the lake.  The family built many of the buildings on the lake and around Chippewa Lake Park.  Oscar Townsend remodeled the old farmhouse and created the estate which is now The Oaks Lakeside Restaurant.  He named it Five Oaks because of the five oaks which stood in a semi-circle on the front lawn facing the lake.  Townsend added a barn, a carriage house, a boathouse, and formal gardens.  His portico with concrete latticed roof supported by thirty-six stately columns remains today.  He collected stones from around the world for the two fireplaces still enjoyed by the patrons of The Oaks Lakeside Restaurant & Event Center on a cold winter evening. 

The estate was completed around 1914 and was a showplace for Medina County.  It became a standard for hospitality and gracious living, and played host to the rich and famous of the day.

The area was booming and the Park thrived, aided by the Cleveland & Southwestern Interurban Line whose tracts ran right to the Park's edge.  A round trip ticket from Cleveland to Chippewa Lake on the electric train cost was fifty cents.  The biggest names in entertainment of that era were frequently featured at Chippewa Lake Park.

Mr. Townsend lived only a few years after completing his lakeside retreat, and Five Oaks passed throu many other owners and uses.  The estate had been operated as a dining establishment and bar for some time, when it was purchased in 1961 by Don Casper and Al Hitchins.  They outlasted the Chippewa Lake Park, which closed its doors in 1978.

Al died in 1986, and Don continued as the owner until his death in 2003.  Upon Don's death, ownership was passed to his three nieces, Bonnie Casper Drushal, Cheryl Casper Iaquinta, and Holli Stille Boylan.  In summertime of 2004, Johnny and Audrey Pollizi then partnered in ownership with Don's family.

Johnny's unique palette penetrates our cuisine as he guides "The Heart of the House".  Audrey's energies are focused on the direction of The Oaks daily experience for you, our guest.  The Pollizi's dedication and eclectic style is evident as they contribute to the legacy of The Oaks.

The Oaks Lakeside Restaurant & Event Center has become best known for the glorious wedding ceremonies and receptions held exclusively on the property.  We are also well known for our traditional Easter, Mother's Day and Thanksgiving Buffets.  Along with these specialties, we take pride in all of our social and business events that we host.  With the 6 different dining areas for us to offer, there are many unique options for you as our guest.

The Oaks Lakeside Restaurant & Event Center offers the finest in alfresco lakeside dining.  In the colder months, time is often spent in the estate near on of our buning fires or at a lake view table in our main dining room.  The sunsets are always just incredible artwork and seats are often limited.  Reservations are requested and often required.  Our dinner menu will seasonally change as new flavors fill the air.

Come out and enjoy a relaxing dinner and a stroll down by the lake to see the beauty for yourself.  We look forward to seeing you.