Past And Present
BEMUS POINT – The village of Bemus Point has a history of attracting tourism that has stood the test of time.
According to www.bemuspointny.org, Bemus Point was settled in 1806 by William Bemus, who lived with his family in a log cabin near the current Bemus Point-Stow Ferry landing site.
“Throughout the 1800s, Bemus Point gained popularity as a tourist destination, which promoted its growth and development. By the early 1900s, a dance hall known as the Casino (currently The Village Casino), … became a well-known venue for entertainment, particularly big band music,” the website reads.
The Village Casino, owned and operated by local entrepreneur Andrew Carlson, hosts live entertainment by local and regional acts every Friday and Saturday evening through Labor Day.
The Casino is also home to a recently completed permanent art installation, which features more than 45 canvas prints in the ballroom and many more throughout the restaurant. The photos feature artists who performed at the Casino such as: Frank Sinatra, who performed at the Casino in 1939 with Buddy Rich on drums as part of the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra; Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Lena Horne, Cab Calloway, Billie Holiday, Perry Como, Guy Lombardo, Woody Herman, Lionel Hampton and others.
The front entrance has a display of newspaper ads from 1930 through 1941, the majority of which were printed in The Post-Journal. And, also on display are historical photos from Bemus Point, including: The Hotel Lenhart, the Bemus Point-Stow Ferry, The Lawson Center, The Surf Club, the See-Zurh House, an artist rendition of the original Village Casino and others. The Lucy-Desi Center is also on display.
The Village Casino is located at 1 Lakeside Drive in Bemus Point. For more information call 386-2333 or visit www.bemuspointcasino.com.
Another opportunity to discover the history behind Bemus Point and Chautauqua Lake is the Lawson Center, which features the history of boats on Chautauqua Lake and also ties in with an antique boat show every year. The center is located at 73 Lakeside Drive in Bemus Point. For more information, visit www.thelawsoncenter.org.
The Floating Stage on Chautauqua Lake, another popular destination for entertainment, was established as an outdoor venue in 1998. One of the more notable, and long-standing traditions of the stage is the Chautauqua Lake Voices vocal competition, which for nearly a decade was known as Chautauqua Lake Idol. The competition celebrated its 10th anniversary this summer.
Midway State Park, 4859 Route 430, in Bemus Point, is a family-friendly option for those looking to have a theme-park style adventure. According to www.nysparks.com, Midway State Park, which was established in 1898, is one of the oldest continually operating amusement parks in the country. For more information call 386-3165 or visit www.friendsofmidwaystatepark.org.
Those looking for somewhere to stay during a trip to Bemus Point may consider The Hotel Lenhart, which has been owned and operated by the same family since 1880. For more information, call 386-2715 or visit hotellenhart.com.