The Local History Gallery
For the White Lake Area

Website & Imaging: Jerry Grady     Research: Barb Brow


Idlewild Resort


The Idlewild was located on Lake Street and is the site of the first Swedish settlement on White Lake. The Johnson and Sorenson families built a log cabin on the site in 1856 and lived there during the winter. The next year they built a house across the road which became the Johnson home and the site of White Lake Villa. One of the Sorenson girls married L. W. Shear, the first of the ”sand, water and sunshine” promoters. He built a home which became Idlewild, along with another house for J. G. Swenson, constructed a pavilion at the foot of Main Street, and beautified the waterfront.

In the early 1900’s the place came into the possession of Fred Schmidt, an enterprising hotel keeper who built several cottages along the road. This resort became one of the best resort hotels on the lake. In November 1920, Schmidt sold Idlewild to Elwood Shelhamer and his son-in-law Walter R. Kemp & his wife Elmay (ne Shelhamer). Elwood Shelhamer died in 1921.

Walter and his wife Elmay continued to operate the resort. Walter died in 1929. Mrs. Kemp operated the resort by herself. In 1934 she married Charles C. Kern and they operationed the resort together.

In 1945, Elmay Kemp-Kern sold the resort to her brother Samuel Shelhamer and his wife Sigrid and they operated the resort until 1968. They both died within several months on each other in 1975. The property was sold, the resort buildings were removed, and several new homes have been constructed on the site.