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 The Middle Bass Club Chapel Story

By Marie Demer Rader, February 2022


I decided to write about the Middle Bass Club Chapel after I received the 1881 handwritten Records Book of the Middle Bass Chapel Association from my Middle Bass Club neighbor and research colleague Dr. Martin Taliak.  Then, the Chapel came alive when Middle Bass Club member Maggie Kinsey Wood told me she was inside the Chapel in the early 1930s.  Next, I realized that few people knew that the Middle Bass Club had a Chapel let alone why it was built, who built it, when was it built, where it was located, what they used it for and how it was funded.  Thus, I hope to safeguard the Chapel history by sharing its story since the building no longer exists in the Middle Bass Club.

Middle Bass Chapel Association Records Book from the Taliak Family Personal Collection (multiple pages).  Photo by Marie Demer Rader, Summer 2021

Middle Bass Chapel Association Records Book from the Taliak Family Personal Collection

When the idea of building a Chapel turned into the creation of the Middle Bass Chapel Association in 1881 - 1882, the Toledo and Lake Erie Boating and Fishing Association (now called the Middle Bass Club) was growing by leaps and bounds and was extremely popular with members and their families. In 1881 they boasted 189 wealthy, influential members.  The membership consisted mainly of people living in Toledo, Ohio but also included members from the following Ohio cities: Bellevue, Bryan, Columbus, Cincinnati, Findlay, Fostoria, Fremont, Green Springs, Kent, Lancaster, Norwalk, Ottawa, Sandusky, Springfield, Upper Sandusky and Wauseon.  Outside Ohio, members originated from: Baltimore, Maryland; Battle Creek, Michigan; Buffalo, New York; Chicago, Illinois; Denver, Colorado; Henderson, Kentucky; Indianapolis, Indiana; Louisville, Kentucky; St. Louis, Missouri and San Francisco, California.  A link to the 1881 Membership List is included below.

1881 Membership List

In 1881, due the rapid growth in membership and popularity with the families, the membership decided to enhance and upgrade the accommodations within the Middle Bass Club.  Additional Club House guest rooms as well as more refined accommodations were desperately needed.  To build the grandiose “new” Club House, the Middle Bass Club commissioned renowned Toledo architect E. O. Fallis to design the building.  The “new” Club House was built on the site of the original Club House in the Grove (southwestern portion of the western tip of Middle Bass Island).  Unfortunately, the “new” Club House does not exist today; the Grove where it was located is now a private park owned by the Middle Bass Club.  The original Club House built in 1874, now called “Club Cottage,” was relocated from the Grove to William Rehberg’s 1st Addition: lots 35 & 36 on Grove Avenue to make room for the new, swankier Club House.  Eight members purchased 1/8 share of lots 35 & 36: Epaphras Lord Barber, Marcus V. Barbour, Leander Solomon Baumgardner, Adam Burgert, Frederick B. Dodge, George Douglass, Arthur D. Howell and William Alonso Gosline Sr.  “Club Cottage” provided additional accommodations when the “new” Club House was full.  “Club Cottage” does not exist today; the empty lots are owned by the Richardson and Rader families.

In the spirit of upgrading the Middle Bass Club amenities, member Francis Pilgrim Isherwood moved his “tiny” cottage (the first one built in the Middle Bass Club) from Rehberg’s Original Subdivision lot 11 on Grove Avenue to William Rehberg’s 3rd Subdivision, lot 54 on Grape Avenue.  Francis Pilgrim Isherwood then decided to build a larger, fancier cottage on lot 11 (this was a prime location right across the street from the “new” Club House). The original Isherwood cottage on Grape Avenue exists today and is owned by the Daniel family.  The “bigger” Isherwood cottage located on Grove Avenue exists today is owned by the Fine family.  According to Middle Bass Club records, in 1882 besides the “new” Club House, there were 23 member cottages providing accommodations for an additional 120 people.  Cottages that existed in 1882 based upon my research are depicted in the chart below.

1882 Member Cottages

Since many families wanted to spend a lot of time at the Middle Bass Club, a group of Middle Bass Club members decided that a Chapel needed to be built on the Middle Bass Club grounds to offer regular church services, Sunday school for the children and occasionally host educational, literary and scientific programs.  Thus, the Middle Bass Chapel Association committee was formed in August 1881.  The Middle Bass Chapel Association was comprised of ladies who were the wives or daughters of Middle Bass Club members.  While constructing the Chapel building, the Middle Bass Chapel Association worked with an elected group of gentlemen from the Middle Bass Club appropriately named the Building Committee.  The Building Committee (with input from the Middle Bass Chapel Association) worked with the “new” Club House architect, E. O. Fallis, to ensure a cohesive design between the two buildings.  Once the Chapel design was approved by the Middle Bass Chapel Association, the Building Committee worked with a builder from Toledo, Joseph Brady, to construct the Chapel. 

It was decided to place the Chapel on Grape Avenue on the northeastern side of the Middle Bass Club: William Rehberg’s 2nd Addition: lot 45.  “Count” William Rehberg and his wife Louisa sold this lot for $100 to the Toledo and Lake Erie Boating and Fishing Association (Ottawa County Recorder’s Office: Volume 33, Page 167) which was received and recorded on September 4, 1882.  In the deed it states:

“Know that all Men by these Presents, That We William Rehberg and Louisa Rehberg of Middle Bass Island, Lake Erie Ohio in consideration of One Hundred Dollars to them paid by the association hereinafter mentioned the receipt wherof is hereby acknowledged, do hereby Bargain, Sell and Convey to “The Toledo and Lake Erie Boating and Fishing Association, “ its successors and assigns forever the following real estate, viz:

Lot number forty five (45) in Rehbergs subdivision of land on Middle Bass Island, Ottawa County, Ohio: said premises to be held upon the following trusts. 1. For the erection and maintenances of a Chapel to be used for Sunday School and other religious purposes, but without discrimination in favor of or against any creed, sect or denomination whatever: also for such scientific literary and educational purposes as the trustees herein named may deem expedient. 2. The said grantee is to be charged with no duty in regard to the execution of said trust, but the management and control thereof is vested in the Board of Trustees of the association of ladies now organized for the purchase and improvement of said property. 3. The said Board of Trustees is to be constituted and continued from time to time as may be provided by the rules and regulations of said association, together with the privileges and appurtenances to the same belonging.”

Rehberg Lot 45, Chapel, deed between William & Louise Rehberg and the Lake Erie Boating and Fishing Association