To hear Caryl’s story please click below.
My name is Caryl Bemus Tilden. I am a great, great, great granddaughter of William Bemus, who founded Bemus Point in 1806. I was born in Pittsburg but moved to Ravenwood, the Bemus homestead on Lakeside Drive, in 1949. Although my family came to visit my grandparents, James and Minnie every summer, moving to that big house, on a farm, was quite a change for a nine year old girl. Just like “Anne of Green Gables”, I believe that the scope of my imagination expanded greatly that summer!
I remember begin captivated by the past of this big, old house. According to the Fenton Historical Society book, “Chautauqua Lake Hotels” the village had been encouraged to “improve itself” to take advantage of the increasing tourist trade. In the late 1800’s, my grandfather Jotham built Ravenwood and he and his wife Pauline were the well known hosts of this popular resort along the lake. The big house that I now lived in had been sleeping quarters and each room had a key will a large number hanging from it. I slept in “number one.”
A large staircase with a handsome banister still sweeps down to the foyer and front door. As a child, I liked to picture the beautiful women, in their long skirts, flowing down the steps to the first floor. I liked to dress up and pretend that I was coming downstairs to one of those elegant parties. There were other buildings on the property at that time as well, including the dinning room that also served as a ballroom for dances with live music. People came to Bemus Point from all around; many by train from Cincinnati, some by steamboat, some by the Chautauqua Lake Railroad, for extended stays during the summer months.
Ravenwood had spacious grounds with pathways leading to the lake. Boating was popular with the guests until late in the day, when they would dress for dinner and the evening entertainment. Many years have passed since I came to Bemus Point with my family. A lot of youngsters have slid down that same banister, including my own. The house is now owned by Dr. Thomas and Nancy Generalovich. Nancy is a great, great, great, great granddaughter of William Bemus. She loves the history and tradition of this grand old house that is still called Ravenwood.
In closing, the following is a quote from a long ago guest at Ravenwood:
“The house is still, even at this late day, filled with guests, who linger on, loathe to leave its pleasant borders, and almost wishing that the summer might last forever. And so long as it is presided over by such kind and genial spirits as Mr. Bemus and his lady, so long will the hospitable walls of Ravenwood by filled to overflowing, as they so well deserve to be, with happy and delighted guests.”
Now I ask you…..Doesn’t that broaden the scope of imagination?