Warden Place or Worden Place or Wardan Place is a cove not far from Sunset near Willow Point patented to George M. Hollenback in January 1840. Apparently, Joseph (Josey) Wardan (Wardan with two “a’s”) acquired an interest in a forty-four acre farming parcel fronting the Lake perhaps as early as 1855. When Joseph Wardan (1816-1862) died Hollenback formally recognized the Wardan claim with a March 30, 1865, deed to Wardan’s widow Elizabeth Wardan (1824-1911) in trust for the Wardan children. One of the children Abram (Abraham) Wardan, later a prosperous Idetown farmer, was now associated with the Lake property until Elizabeth Wardan sold the forty-four acre estate as trustee for her children in February 1884 to Andrew Hunlock, a prominent Wilkes-Barre lawyer, for three hundred dollars. When her son Abraham Wardan died in early January 1912 the obituary mis-cited his name as Warden as did the 1911 obituary for his mother Elizabeth as Warden not Wardan. When Abraham Wardan died in 1912 his obituary credited the name Warden Place to Abram “Warden” although it may be more properly belong to Joseph Wardan.
The early Wardan family plot is located in the Wardan Cemetery at the corner of Lake and E. Center Hill Streets in Dallas and grave markers are uniformly Wardan. The cemetery sign states Wardan Cemetery, correctly citing the early Wardan family who settled the Lake cove. Oddly, the formal legal advertisement to charter the cemetery on June 1, 1885, cites it as “The Worden Cemetery.” The transcription of the court order on June 1, 1885, inconsistently recites both Wordan and Worden and notes one of its incorporators as Sidney Wardan but as Sidney Warden elsewhere in the document. Luzerne County Charter Book 2, page 123. Newspapers for decades onward list burials there as Wardan Cemetery.
Worden Place has frequently been used as an alternative name for this quiet settlement. Of nearly 6,664 news clippings in Wilkes-Barre newspapers from the late 1880s to 1949 noting the site, 43 percent use Warden Place, 34 percent use Worden Place, and 23 percent use Wardan Place.
Additional confusion occurred when the “Worden Place” boarding house was built at an uncertain time, perhaps in the 1897 period. The name Worden Place came into regular usage in 1900. This boarding house was considered a landmark but was destroyed in a Sunday afternoon fire on December 6, 1908. A defective chimney caused a second floor fire. At the time Calvin Dymond was staying there. He was President of the Harvey’s Lake Steamboat Company.
In 1894 a considerable portion of Warden Place was acquired by the Wilkes-Barre Real Estate Company to create 134 building lots along Lake Avenue, Centre Street, East Avenue, High Street and Kunkle Road. The company directors were Theodore F. Ryman; Theodore L. Newell; Calvin Dymond; P. Butler Reynolds, and Abram G. Hoyt. Their plot, however, recorded the development as Worden Place in Luzerne County Recorder of Deeds Map Book No. 1, Page 54.
While Warden Place was designed as a residential development it also attracted a modest share of hotels, retail shops, and services for the community. Warden Place had a cottage-building boom in the 1920s when the Wilkes-Barre Real Estate Company commanded growth there. Warden Place was ideally placed to avoid the chaos of Sunset and the clamor near the Picnic Grounds.
The Drowning Season
Every swimming area at the Lake had an extensive history of near-drownings and fatal drownings too numerous to be recounted in this work. However, a few incidents at Warden Place will be noted. In mid-August 1907 20 year old James McGreevey of Wilkes-Barre slipped below a deep water section. His several friends though he had merely tested a deep dive. A half-hour search recovered the body and two doctors at the scene could not resuscitate him.
On a Sunday in mid-July 1908 25 year old Arthur Jones of Berwick, visiting with relatives in Edwardsville, drowned in ten feet of water near Warden Place. Late in the same month Agnes Loftus, a young domestic for the Weitzenkorn cottage, ignored warnings about a deep step-off out in the water. She fell into deep waters and panicked. Her friend John Scott sought to rescue her but was pulled under water by the frightened girl. An observer, Louis Weitzenkorn, took a boat out to the scene and rescued Loftus and returned to Scott and grabbed him by the hair as he was sinking and brought him to shore. Weitzenkorn later became a famous New York City newspaper editor, Broadway playwright, and movie screen writer in the 1930s.
Helen McClellan of Wilkes-Barre was bathing at Warden Place in late August 1911. She “stepped off a cliff in the Lake” and sank into the water. Her screams attracted other swimmers who saved her but physicians near the scene had to treat her for an hour before she fully recovered.
In early August 1913 Thomas E. Jermyn jumped into the Lake at Warden Place, fully-clothed, to rescue 12 year old Curtis Logan of Kingston who was about to drown. In mid-July 1922 two boys, Francis Finan and Frank Bohan were finishing their last swim when Finan had a seizure and began to sink. Bohan came to his friend’s aid and was pulled under by Finan. Bohan was able to recover and brought Finan to safety.
A Wilkes-Barre city policeman, Chet Binney, received a Carnegie medal for heroism for rescuing Ethel I. Sagenkahn, 24, and her niece, Lena Deutser, 12, after they jointly plunged into the 25 foot depth on August 23, 1921, at Warden Place. Binney saw the aunt sink into the Lake and swam out to her and dived into the depth. He found Sagenkahn unaware that her niece was bound in a death-struggle with her. Binney brought both to the surface where they were revived.
In mid-June 1923 the first Lake death of the season at the Lake occurred when 17 year-old Anna Bonsavage suffered a heart attack and sank beneath the surface while swimming with friends who were challenging her to venture into the deeper waters. Bonsavage was recovered by Fred Heafele, Wilkes-Barre, an expert swimmer and diver who was staying at the Lake.
In mid-July 1923 a young mother Mrs. C. A. Mortimer and her daughter Mary Mortimer, of Wilkes-Barre, also walked over the “step off” at Warden Place. Maternal grand-parents, Dr. and Mrs. J. E. Creeney, sought to aid the mother and child but the grand-parents were also at risk of drowning. Fortunately, cottagers and police were near the scene, launched boats, and saved the four family members. The Wilkes-Barre Record newspaper stated the family had a “thrilling experience.”
Near the end of July 1927 Pious “Frank” Teleisha, age 28, from Baltimore, was visiting the area and was fishing from a pier near Warden Place. His boat drifted away and Teleisha jumped into the Lake to retrieve the boat but apparently suffered cramps and sank into sixty feet of water. His body was recovered from the Lake late in the afternoon the following day and returned to Baltimore for burial. In the Fall he was to have entered the American College in Rome to study for the priesthood.
One of the most remarkable rescues of a water victim at the Lake occurred at Warden Place on August 16, 1931. Robert Kase and Mildred McCloskey both waded over the step-off and plunged into a 30 foot depth. Two other swimmers, Max Ryan and Peter Calhan of Wilkes-Barre, went to the rescue. Ryan grabbed McCloskey as she sank beneath the surface. Calhan dived to the 30 foot bottom, found the 190 pound Kase and brought him to the surface where Kase was revived. There was talk of a Carnegie medal for heroism for both boys but awards did not occur.
In mid-August 1938 16 year-old William Morgan, a junior at Ashley High, died when he went beyond the dangerous step-off into the 30 foot drop. He disappeared in the Lake and his body was not recovered for five hours.
As the Summer season waned near Labor Day 1939 a double-drowning at the Lake captivated the headlines. Thomas E. Cule, age 17, was lost in the deepest part of the Lake when he fell from a rowboat with his two sisters after they were struck by a power boat. Cule was a victim of infantile paralysis and wore an iron leg brace. His sisters were saved in the water far out from the Picnic Grounds.
At nearly the same time Millard Haefele, age 34, of Wilkes-Barre was lost in 70 feet of water near Warden Place when he fell from a speedboat operated by John Hanson. Governor Arthur H. James, a Plymouth native who had a Lake cottage, had the State Police and a professional diver, George Hughes, Jr., from Chester Pennsylvania, intervene to find Cule and Haefele. During the recovery operation Eugene Wahl, age 30, was swimming at Warden Place and watching grapplers seeking Haefele’s body. Wahl was warned to leave the area but he suddenly slipped beneath the Lake. He was recovered but was unconscious and it took thirty minutes to revive him at the scene by Dr. Benjamin S. Davis. Wahl was then taken to the Nesbitt Hospital in Kingston. Hughes found Cule and the autopsy found Cule actually died from a fractured skull in the boat collision rather than drowning. The diver found the Lake bottom the “most treacherous” he ever encountered.
Hughes could not locate Haefele and after Hughes left the area John Hanson and friends found Haefele with grappling hooks using the same speedboat from which Haefele had fallen. An extended version of these two drownings and a full account of all Lake drownings is reported at www.harveyslake.org.
The Lake Breeze Hotel
In the early years of the last century a 16 to 20 room cottage at Warden Place was initially a small resort called the Lake Breeze Cottage and later as the Lake Breeze Hotel.
In 1913 the Cottage was managed by Martha James, a well-known Wyoming Valley caterer from Plymouth. James had attended both the Boston Cooking School and the Fannie Farmer’s school, both in Boston, Massachusetts. However, in 1914 James began to plan construction of her own hotel at Warden Place and new Cottage managers followed. By 1920 the Cottage was for sale. An attractive Cottage feature was a self-contained light plant – still somewhat unusual at the Lake.
On May 28, 1922, Charles Solomon formally opened the Cottage he had now purchased but he renamed it the Lake Breeze Hotel. (He called the area Wordon Place) By January 1924 Solomon sought to sell out for $20,000.00. Absent a buyer Solomon continued the hotel which by 1926 was fully Kosher.
On Monday evening, June 16, 1930, as the season was to open the following Saturday, a fire swept through the Lake Breeze Hotel. The fire was first seen by Mrs. John T. Ruth, wife of the Lake police chief, from their Warden Place home. Police Captain John Ruth and a volunteer David Horowitz broke into the building and found a mass of flames. The Lake and Dallas fire volunteers drew water from the Lake to battle the fire and to prevent its spread to cottages and stores. The entire road around the Lake was closed because of hose lines stretched across the Lake road. The fire caused a $25,000.00 complete loss.
The Lakeside Inn
In February 1914 Martha James acquired from Calvin Dymond a large site overlooking the Lake at Warden Place. By late May 1914 James had nearly finished construction of the 27-30 room Lakeside Inn and planned to open it on May 30, 1914, the Decoration Day opening of the Lake season. By the July 4 holiday the hotel was complete. On December 30, 1914, Martha James and Lewis Schworm, of Long Island, NY, were married and planned to live at the Lake hotel.
For 23 years Martha James Schworm and her husband Lewis were among the Lake’s best-known hotel operators. The hotel was usually full for the Summer and day guests enjoyed Schworm’s famous chicken and waffle dinners. After Martha Schworm died in May 1937 Lewis Schworm continued to manage the Lakeside until June 1946 when Schworm sold the hotel to Melvin Sweeney. Lewis Schworm died in 1955. Sweeney operated the Lakeside until June 1963 when it was sold to Richard Tattersall.
The Tattersall family continued the hotel operation including public dinners. Later, a lunch counter was added for breakfast and lunch and dinners ended. Under Tattersall there was no bar or liquor license.
In the early 1970s the first floor dining area was converted into two apartments with two efficiency apartments in the rear of the second floor. The lakefront hotel rooms were still open for rental while the Tattersall family lived on the third floor. The hotel was lost in a 1978 fire likely started in a kitchen in one of the second floor efficiency apartments.
By 1881 several of Wyoming Valley’s Anthracite Aristrocracy had showcase homes at Harvey’s Lake. Examples are Col. H. B. Wright, J. C. Paine, Hon. H. B. Payne, Col. S. H. Sturdevant, H. S. Rutter and Andrew Hunlock.
Andrew Hunlock was a Wilkes-Barre lawyer whose ancestors settled in Hunlock Township in 1773. His Lake estate was the original site of the Joseph “Josey” Wardan farm. Hunlock did not practice law but managed his coal, timber and banking interests. He never married and he was a generous contributor to local charities including donation of a plot which became the Wilkes-Barre YWCA’s swimming pool- adjacent to the present-day Kirby Health Center.
Hunlock died in October 1920 and his Warden Place home was acquired by Martha James Schworm in 1922 and named the Pinehurst – a hotel supplemental to her Lakeside Inn. Originally built by architect H. W. Hawkins Pinehurst was described in 1922 as “one of the most exquisite and altogether attractive in this part of the county.” Schworm advertised Pinehurst as “The Beauty Spot at the Lake.”
At Pinehurst Martha Schworm operated the 20 room hotel in the same fashion as the Lakeside Inn and encouraged “auto parties” to stop for her fried spring chicken dinners.
Sacred Heart Monastery
In 1926 a plan emerged to sell the Lakeside and Pinehurst hotels to the Congregation of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, a largely Lithuanian Catholic religious order founded in 1925 in Westville, Illinois. However, by September 1926 only Pinehurst was sold to the Congregation and the Mother House of the Order was dedicated on May 6, 1926.
Apparently, the religious Order had difficulties. In 1931 the Lithuanian Men’s Club of Wilkes-Barre held provisional control of the structure and planned to create a Lake clubhouse there. But in 1932-1933 Sacred Heart priests were again occupying the grounds.
On December 31, 1932, the former Hunlock home was badly damaged by fire but it was rebuilt. The structure was the Summer home for the Order’s priests and novices who received initial training there before entering theological seminaries. In winter months most priests conducted missions in Lithuanian churches.
On February 27, 1933, a kitchen fire spread quickly throughout the monastery. Rev. L. S. Brigmanus, the Sacred Heart Superior, was in Mercy Hospital due to a heart attack ten days earlier. Harvey’s Lake and Dallas fire companies could not save the building. In September 1936 Rev. L. S. Brigmanus announced a plan to rebuild the monastery but the funds were not realized.
The Warden Place Community
After the creation of the Wilkes-Barre Real Estate Company in 1894 a cottage community began to develop. While some cottage owners around the Lake, and especially camping parties, would assign a unique name to the cottage or site, it particularly took hold at Warden Place. There was the Go-E.Z. cottage, which like many others, were seasonally rented to cottage same-sex parties, with an older chaperone for female groups. Rental cottages were advertised in the city newspapers by their unusual names. Other examples at Warden Place were Happy Days, Kno-Place, Pertikler and Spring Cabin. There were also small guest houses, for example, the Toddle In which in 1922 offered free dancing and rental canoes. A restaurant, Clover Inn Tea Room, operated by Mrs. T.P. Doughterty opened Memorial Day 1923 with a one-dollar chicken dinner.
The Wilkes-Barre Real Estate Company’s most expansive years at Warden Place were in the 1920s. Small boarding homes also grew. The Capitol Inn on First Street was a combination general store with six boarding rooms.
With growth there was the occasional dispute. When the New Yorker W. C. Teter purchased a site for an expansive home his waterfront lot already had a history of Warden Place cottagers and Lake visitors using Teter’s beach sometimes with “noise, profanity, and disorder.” In July 1913 Teter requested a meeting with cottagers to discuss the issue. He did not intend to foreclose use of the Teter waterfront by cottagers but he wanted local oversight or engagement of a special officer to curtail offenders – and the matter was settled. Three seasons later in mid-August Teter’s boathouse, one of the Lake’s largest and as expensive as most cottages, was lost when an electrical fire ignited gasoline.
Fires at the Lake were common as nearly all the structures were wooden. In early December 1917 nine Warden Place cottages were wiped out by a fire of undetermined origin. There was an unsubstantiated rumor burglars in one cottage started the fire. In winter there were too few residents in place to support an effective bucket brigade to check the loss.
On September 3, 1923, the Lady of Victory Chapel was dedicated at Warden Place. It finally provided a dedicated edifice for members of the Catholic faith at the Lake. The ceremonies were led by the Rt. Rev. M.J. Hoban, Bishop of the Scranton diocese with a high mass by Rev. John J. Fealherson of St. Peter’s Cathedral, Scranton, and sung by the choir of St. Ignatius Church of Kingston.
The Chapel was designed in a Spanish style of architecture and was built as a memorial to the lost soldiers and sailors of World War I. The Chapel’s rector invited all former servicemen and War chaplains to the dedication.
The compact Warden Place community became a cohesive settlement by the late 1920s unlike other areas of the Lake. An energetic presence at Warden Place was Police Capt. John T. Ruth who resided there. He formed the Warden Place Improvement Association in June 1928 and was elected its President with the support of 100 cottage members. The association planned a Home Week celebration for July 23-28, 1928, with farmer dances, merchandise booths, beauty contest, boat races, baby parade and marathon race. The event sought to raise funds for street lights, improved beach and road repairs.
A week later Ruth sought to quell rowdy bathers on a Sunday morning at the Warden Place beach. Two of the bathers attacked Ruth and one struck Ruth on the head with a milk bottle and Ruth was hospitalized.
In the Fall 1928 the State Highway Department substantially improved the road around Warden Place by eliminating a dangerous curve and widening the road. The following May the Warden Place Protective Association dedicated a new sandy beach with a 100 foot boardwalk and an 84 foot extension out over the Lake. Six tons of new sand were added to Warden Place and at the same time 15 tons of sand were added to both the Sunset and Casino Place beaches in cooperation with the Lake and Lehman Taxpayer Associations. There were floodlights for illumination and it was claimed the infamous “step-off” out in the Lake was eliminated. Capt. John T. Ruth was given a banquet in appreciation for his services. In the celebration there was brief talk of incorporating Warden Place as a new borough for Luzerne County.
Ruth was killed responding to a murder at the Sordoni farm at Alderson in 1930. This loss is noted in the Chapter, Between the Wars 1920-1940. The Warden Place Improvement Association did not survive the loss. A Warden Place taxpayer association followed for a time and was absorbed into the Harvey’s Lake Taxpayer’s Association which as late as 1939 was still concerned with the dangerous step-off at the Warden Place beach. A formal revival of the Warden Place Improvement Association would not occur until late 1959. For an article on the murder of Capt. John T. Ruth in July 1930, see www.harveyslake.org.
Other Fire Losses
On January 15, 1934, the well-known Cobleigh estate, adjacent to the Sordoni home, near Warden Place, was totally destroyed by fire. The fire was discovered by Mrs. A. J. Sordoni and the Sordoni caretakers Mr. and Mrs. John Dershimer who called the Lake and Dallas fire companies. State Senator A. J. Sordoni, at his Kingston home, was also called and rushed to the scene to combat the blaze. The home was valued at $75,000.00.
The cottage of Jacob Muller, Kingston, was lost to fire in late March 1937, and the Warden Place cottages of Thomas Laity and Bert Evans were slightly damaged. A total loss by fire occurred in mid-April 1938 to Isaac Fisher’s cottage. Anna Lukesh’s adjoining cottage was also badly burned.
In mid-August 1941 the two cottages of Rowena Hayward of Larksville and Morgan Owens of Wilkes-Barre were destroyed in an afternoon fire. A second cottage owned by Hayward was also slightly damaged.
Second Street Bar Scene
In 1933 James “Juggs” Ryan and his wife Katherine opened Ryan’s Tavern at the top of Second Street at Warden Place. The ads for Ryan’s consistently stated Worden Place. A spaghetti dinner was 15 cents, 25 clams were 25 cents and a steak dinner was 75 cents.
On August 15, 1935, Paul Dunn’s Café opened on Second Street advertising “legal beer, wines and liquor,” sea food-steaks and chops. A half-chicken dinner was the standard 25 cents, although Ryan’s Tavern had a thirteenth anniversary chicken dinner for 13 cents in May 1936.
A third entry at Warden Place near Ryan’s was James S. McGill’s new place in 1937 called Jimmy’s Tavern. For 25 years McGill was a salesman at Simon Long’s Sons department store in Wilkes-Barre.
In June 1940 Ryan reformed his business as Ryan’s Hilltop Inn and in June 1946 Frank Melovitz acquired Dunn’s Café and renamed it Mel’s Café.
Ryan’s was later acquired by Ed Baker who sold it in 1956 to Mark and Louise Ney Trainor and Bernard G. and Louise T. Ott. Trainor’s Hilltop Inn was open from May through Labor Day and specialized in seafood – especially a “lobster bake.” Trainor’s 40 seat round bar, game room and stage where cottage residents would perform were memorable years until 1961 when the property was sold to Thomas and Nell Casey. Joseph and Stella Shurmaitis acquired the Inn in 1977 and it closed in 1984.
In the late 1940s and through the mid-1950s, the Harvey’s Lake Hotel was a hot-spot for lodging, dinners and dancing at Warden Place. The hotel was formerly the Teter Estate, a huge cottage originally built a half-century earlier by Teter-Edwards family money. William C. Teter was a Wall Street banker who married a daughter of Daniel C. Edwards, Superintendant of the Kingston Coal Company. Edwardsville is named for Edwards.
In 1945 Fred Brokenshire acquired part of the Teter property to recast the home as a hotel. It catered to weddings, parties and banquets in addition to its hotel functions. Originally a seasonal hotel, in 1951 it re-opened as a year-round hotel after a 1950 season served 150 honeymoon couples during the usual limited Lake season. The Harvey’s Lake Lions Club was also formed at the hotel in 1950. The Marine Dining Room seated 100 guests with recorded music for dancing on its “plastic floor.” There was usually a weekend orchestra or Chauncey Roth, a Valley bon vivant, as guest pianist. A “country-style” dinner in the 1950s was $1.59. The hotel had a large beach front acquired by the Teeter family in 1912, and 40 years later the hotel had two large motor boats for guests to have Lake tours. The other part of the Teter property was acquired by F. J. Connolly for building lots.
On June 6, 1955, Brokenshire took a 15-year-old 30-foot speedboat out for a test run to open the summer season. The mahogany classic, capable of 40 to 50 mile speeds, stalled and the engine shortly exploded throwing a son, young Fred Brokenshire, Jr., from the boat into the Lake. The father and three other passengers leapt into the water. All were uninjured and the Daniel C. Roberts Fire Company (now the Harvey’s Lake Fire Company) towed the burning boat to shore to extinguish the fire.
Six months later Fred Brokenshire (1902-1955) unexpectedly died at age 55. In his younger years he was an assistant mine foreman at the Loree Colliery, Larksville, for the Hudson Coal Company and later he operated a Kingston Corners hotel. His father, Fred Brokenshire, was a Burgess (Mayor) of Kingston in the late 1940s.
The hotel is no longer standing.
One of the Lake’s landmarks for over 50 years was Link’s Tavern at Warden Place. Margaret or Maggie “Blackjack” Link arrived at the Lake in 1920 and opened a Summer bar. By 1924 Link’s Tavern was open on a year-round basis. After World War II the original building was replaced by an enlarged Link’s Bar and Grill operated by son Jack C. Link.
Jack C. Link was a World War II veteran of the U.S. Army. He was stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas, then as Corporal he served in North Africa. Near the end of the War with the Eighth Army he crossed the Rhine on a Bailey bridge he helped build. Apart from World War II he spent his entire life at the Lake.
In the late 40s – early 50s Link’s maintained modern dock facilities with 54 berths and a boat ramp for sportsmen who brought boat rigs on trailers or car-tops. Jack Link had a marine service facility for boat and motor repair, fishing tackle and bait in addition to boat rentals for fishermen.
Link’s lifetime as a genial host of Warden Place’s famous Lakeside Bar and Grill ended with its sale in 1978.