Major exterior renovation has begun at Wawasee Spink on the north shore of Lake Wawasee and will continue throughout the year. Until now, all renovation has been to the interior of the almost 90-year-old structure.
Bill McCabe, president of the Wawasee Spink Condominiums, reported scaffolding is now up around a portion of the condominiums with repairs going on during the next year. Weather affected the work starting later than desired.
“Almost every sliding glass door and window will be removed allowing many owners that have not upgraded them over the last few years to have an opportunity for new ones at only the cost of materials,” stated McCabe.
“As that is being done, we are redoing and upgrading the flashing system and finishing everything with new exterior stucco. We are adding some arches and banding in the design of the stucco exterior to make it look more appealing.”
McCabe noted the sides and parking lot views will be worked on throughout the summer with lakeside work taking place after August. He stated the project is costing approximately $1.5 million.
“This is the first time since 1984,” McCabe noted anything has been done to the building. It was in 1984 the Spink was converted from a preparatory school into luxurious condominiums.
“Lots of interior common work has been done over the last three years, but we found the exterior of the structure to be in need of work,” stated McCabe. The work is being done by Trisco from Ohio.
The earlier work, part of a three-year project cut down to two years, included replacing the wallpaper in the hallways, repainting and gutting the common room, installing a theatre system and cabinets.
McCabe noted with the latest remodeling, the exterior work should last for a long time.
Built as a luxurious 130-bed Spink Wawasee Hotel, the property served as the highly visible landmark on Lake Wawasee since opening in 1926. It was known for catering to wealthy and famous clientele, with a majority of guests visiting from the Chicago area. It was so popular a special railway station was constructed nearby for convenience.
Among the renowned guests were Al Capone, the Queen of Siam, Bud Abbott, Lou Costello and other Hollywood stars. It was also well known for illicit gambling and Prohibition booze with celebrity guests preferring the anonymity the rural location of the resort provided. The Spink had a posh elegance, big band ballroom and gourmet cuisine.
The hotel was closed in 1947 and was about to make a drastic change.
William Noll, who owned an estate adjacent to the Spink, purchased the facility in 1948 and donated it to the Fort Wayne/South Bend Diocese. The former hotel housed Our Lady of the Lake Seminary, operated by the Crosier Fathers. It became the Wawasee Preparatory School. The school was closed in 1976, with the property being vacant until remodeled in 1984.
The 32 three-bedroom condominiums feature owner selected decors. The four-phase complex includes five elevators, a commons room, attached two-car garages for each unit, tennis courts and a swimming pool.