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Our Story

Chuck’s Lakeshore Inn On Geneva Lake Fontana, Wisconsin

A short story…In 1891, Doctor Pierce Tyrell built a residence for his family on the Western shore of Geneva Lake. As was the custom then, he gave his home a name… “Nirvana”. For 17 years the family enjoyed their fine location and the lake-side environment. In 1908, the building was sold and with the new ownership came new ideas. An Inn was eventually established and so too was the tradition of offering friendly hospitality to our visitors and local residents.

In the 1930’s the building was know as the Green Tree Inn, so called because of the tree growing right through the porch roof. It was open only in the summers and featured a restaurant, but lacked running water and indoor bathrooms, and gasp…served no liquor!

Ownership changed to the Freese family from Janesville and a new name was adopted…“The Lakeshore Inn”. Betty Freese married “Chuck” Gasser and in 1959 they bought out other family members and made “Chuck’s” their own. By this time “Chuck’s” reputation as a great meeting place was well established.

In 1969, Gordy Whowell purchased “Chuck’s”. He made a few changes; opening it up for year-round business and adding hamburgers to the sandwich menu. Things would have stayed that way, however, on December 15, 1987 fire destroyed the building, but not the spirit of “Chuck’s”.

On July 27, 1988 Chuck’s Lakeshore Inn reopened in pretty much the form you see today. Retaining much of the character of the old building, some customers who hadn’t heard of the fire thought we had just added a few coats of paint. The following summer the we opened a restaurant on the second floor fondly referred to as “Up Chuck’s”.

Today, “Chuck’s” has gone back to the white siding it once wore in the mid 1900’s, the restaurant is now our private event room, and we have a deck with picnic tables overlooking the lake. But one thing that will never change is the spirit of Chuck’s. And just as Dr. Tyrell and his family did over 125 years ago, we hope you will enjoy this fine location and lake-side environment!

We invite you to look at the collection of pictures throughout the building which capture bits and pieces of the colorful history of “Chuck’s” and the Fontana Lakefront. For out part, we will continue to offer the great food, generous drinks, and friendly service that has always made “Chuck’s” a tradition.

~Enjoy your stay,
The James Whowell Family

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