Greenway put the fun in Green Lake

The Greenway House Bed and Breakfast, which re-opened last fall, is located on Lake Street in Green Lake.   Laura Lyke photo

by Laura Lyke
Green Lake Reporter

Green Lake is the place to be in the summertime, but few know that this is all thanks to one man: David Greenway.

Matt and Christina Lyon, new proprietors of the Greenway House Bed and Breakfast in Green Lake, spoke Wednesday, July 15 at Dartford Historical Society’s “Lunch in the Park” in Deacon Mills Park about their bed and breakfast and its unique history.

The couple purchased and began renovating the building March of last year.

“It’s still a work in progress, but we’ve made many improvements and we are open for business” Matt said. “There were originally 12 bedrooms but we ended up knocking out a few walls to make bathrooms for all rooms.”

The Lyons added nine bathrooms to the house, knocked down, re-plastered and painted walls, replaced regular windows, preserved stain glass windows and more.

“The house was scary when we first moved in,” Matt said. “It looked like a haunted house.”

But the Lyons were up for the challenge.

Matt, a history major in college, and Christina, an English major, saw great value in a home with rich history.

“We had a contracting team come in,” Christina said. “It’s something we’ve always wanted to do. We talked about it for years and when this opportunity came along, we fell in love with it.”

The Lyons gave the group a brief history lesson to show this significant impact the Greenway House and its owner had on the community of Green Lake.

“David Greenway was born in England in 1826, however came to Wisconsin in 1850,” Matt said. “He owned many shops in Ripon and an ice cream parlor in Green Lake.”

What Greenway was most famous for was the Oakwood complex on Green Lake.

“On the peninsula off Deacon Mills Park, he built the Oakwood lodge in 1886. There was a bowling alley, huge gardens, trolley cars, stagecoaches and ballrooms,” Mike said. “It was a huge structure and people came from all over the place to spend weeks here. The entire complex could house 300 people.”

The lodge and complex drew in tourists from around the country who fell in love with the people and city of Green Lake.

“After the Oakwood was established, more hotels started popping up to support the many tourists,” Christina said. “David Greenway really made Green Lake the tourist destination it is.”

Larry Behlen, president of the Dartford Historical Society, recalled that the Oakwood Lodge was a unique getaway location for kids, as well.

“Many people during that time believed children were to be seen and not heard, but in one of Oakwood’s advertisements it said that children are welcome and ‘get to play in the ballroom from 8 to 10 p.m.,’” Behlen said. “Oakwood encouraged children to visit and provided many services for kids, including tutors to get them ready for school.”

Although the Oakwood complex was torn down years ago, The Greenway House was David Greenway’s Eastlake Victorian-style retirement home.

“In the 1950s, the army used the Greenway House as a surveillance station,” Christina said. “The garage was used to keep an eye on a satellite surveillance station in Princeton to make sure the Soviets didn’t come too far south.”

Matt and Christina have enjoyed learning about this history of their bed and breakfast and sharing it with the community.

“Now we’re a seven-room B&B with room for 14 guests,” Christina said. “We’ve really had fun so far. We’re following David Greenway’s footsteps.”


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