- Congress Lake clubhouse gets a $3.5 million makeover
- Clubhouse was designed by Guy Tilden in 1914.
- Project includes restaurant, patio and new KIDZONE
LAKE TWP. – Congress Lake Club members have something most other country clubs don’t offer — a giant lake for boating, fishing and scenic views.
So, when it came time for a makeover of the clubhouse, the focus of the design was obvious.
“Take advantage of the lake,” explained General Manager Paul Showalter.
And that’s exactly what architect H. Chambers Company of Naples, Florida, and Stark County’s Fred Olivieri Construction accomplished with the recently completed $3.5 million project.
Three dining areas were converted to a single upscale casual restaurant, anchored by a circular bar, all with views of the 200-acre, spring-fed lake through floor to ceiling windows.
An adjacent patio, which seats 100 people, includes a louvered roof to let the sun in and keep the rain out. And closer to the lake, more seating and a pair of fire pits were added for late-night lounging.
“We absolutely love it,” said member Amy Karcher, who was on the patio one recent morning with her sister-in-law, Dana Phillips. “The atmosphere out here is so nice now.”
Karcher’s husband, Geoff, is president of The Karcher Group, a local digital marketing agency.
Club founded 127 years ago
Congress Lake Club, founded in 1896, can trace its roots to 1880 and the Canton Outing Club. In fact, the club’s original boathouse is still in use at the 1,000-acre complex.
Club membership costs range from $8,000 to $12,000 per year. The more expensive rate includes privileges on its 6,604-yard, par-71 golf course, rebuilt a century ago by Donald Ross.
“But we’re unpretentious around here … not stuffy,” Showalter said.
He used words like “relaxed formality” and “casual elegance” in explaining the renovated restaurant’s vibe.
On one hand, the renovations included a private wine room with 24 climate-controlled lockers where some of the club’s 375 members rent space to show off their collections. However, the project also carved out a section of locker room space for a children’s area next to the swimming pool for day camps, kids’ activities and babysitting.
“We’re very family-oriented,” Showalter said. “We’re the last country club around here that’s still out in the country. … A lot of our families spend the entire day here. Congress is about people … the socializing, friends and family.”
Renovations began in December and were complete by June, in time for this summer season. Because it’s a member-owned club, the cost of the project was paid for by members.
Respecting history, but not bound by it
“The Congress Lake Club’s membership proudly respects and honors its great history, but the club is certainly not bound by it,” a press release from Showalter stated. “The club’s modern amenities and personalized service are completely relevant to the lifestyle of today’s sophisticated member.”
The three-story clubhouse was designed and built in 1914 by noted Canton architect Guy Tilden. The 60,000-square-foot Georgian building has had other updates and additions over the years, as evidenced by varying shades of exterior bricks.
A photo of Tilden at work in his lake cottage is displayed in a renovated common area, along with other relics, such as original deeds and old black and white photos.
Portraits of course designer Ross and President William McKinley — a founding member — hang on other walls. As do photos of some of the great pro golfers, such as Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jimmy Demaret, who have visited Congress Lake in the past.
Reach Tim at 330-580-8333 [email protected] Twitter: @tbotosREP