A Little Lakeside Character

While many vacation home owners naturally just fall into calling their retreat “The Cottage” or “The Cabin,” just as many spend plenty of time conjuring up the perfect name to christen their getaway.
Lakeside signs
Illustration by Gary W. Odmark

“Tuktaway” and “Happy ’Ours” are two memorable monikers that come to mind for Rockford, Mich.-based lawyer David S. Fry, who with Stuart J. Hollander and Rose Hollander authored the fourth edition of “Saving the Family Cottage: A Guide to Succession Planning for Your Cottage, Cabin, Camp or Vacation Home” (2013, Nolo). Clinton Township residents Barb and David Kotal — who’s a dead ringer for George W. Bush — were gifted with a star-spangled label for their Lexington getaway when they bought it 11 years ago.

“One of our friends came by and asked, ‘What are you going to name it?’” Barb shares. “And they said, ‘I have an idea — call it ‘Camp David,’” in fun, witty reference to Bush’s Presidential retreat in Maryland’s Catoctin Mountains.

Susan Stites, author of “Historic Cottages of Mackinac Island” (2001, Arbutus Press), notes most of the multi-storied Queen Anne, Shingle Style, Carpenter Gothic and other styles of homes built there more than a century ago were named after their owners — although names can change as easily as titles.

Lakeside cottage
Photography courtesy Thinkstock

Originally owned by a Chicago meat packer, “The John and Margaret O’Neill Cudahy House,” for example, became “The Pines” when former Michigan Governor G. Mennen “Soapy” Williams owned it. Currently owned by Richard Manoogian, philanthropist and chairman emeritus of Masco, “The Pines” has stayed rooted, while other cottage tags are tied to other places, homes and signature elements: “Cloghaun,” “Small Point,” “Lilac House.”

One non-eponymous name Stites particularly likes is “Restview.”

“You can just see people sitting on their verandah and resting from their jobs in Chicago or wherever,” she says.

Northern Michigan-based author/publisher Barbara Siepker, who wrote “Historic Cottages of Glen Lake” (2008, Leelanau Press), uncovered a favorite that may say it even better: “Dun Workin.”

The Name Game

Ask family members and friends to help create three columns of words inspired by your cottage and its surroundings: Adjectives in the first (Sunny, Shady, Blue, Hidden, Sandy, Windy, Little); nouns in the second (Woods, Creek, Lake, Birch, Dune, Cricket, Loon, S’more) and vacation descriptors in the third (Cottage, Cabin, Haven, Retreat, Getaway, Camp, Inn, etc.) Have fun mixing and matching up words from each column and see what arises, try combining different words or children’s names together, and draw from architectural details (i.e., Red Door, Twin Peaks), too.

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