UAW To Sell Black Lake Retreat

imageThe United Auto Workers will sell their Walter and May Reuther Family Education Center and Black Lake Golf Course, located on 1,000 acres near Onaway. The union bought the property in 1967. I had the pleasure of playing the course in the spring of 2009.

Shrinking UAW membership and the recession were cited as the reason for the sale.

The Black Lake property was the vision of legendary UAW President Walter Reuther, who ironically died, along with his wife, the architect and two others, in a small plane crash to visit the project in its final stages of construction in 1970. The facility includes conference and dining rooms, hotel rooms, condominiums, gymnasiums, indoor and outdoor pools, lakefront access, hiking and biking trails and sports fields. In short, it’s a full service resort for UAW members.

The main building was designed by Swedish architect Oskar Stonorov, but it looks for all the world like a Frank Lloyd Wright creation. Behind the building, beyond a small pond, is a japanese garden with an eternal flame for the Reuthers. There’s also a small museum which I found fascinating.

It’s a beautiful facility.

The golf course also is spectacular. I sincerely hope that it survives the sale. You can see a review and photos here.

I stayed at the Reuther Center last spring when I attended a three day golf school there. I was amused by the fact that there was a guard at the gate to the facility (not the course, just the resort, which is somewhat further down the road) checking the VIN numbers of cars to ensure that they were union made. Non union cars had to park outside (I had an Olds at the time, so I was safe). My lodgings for the stay actually was at what was known as the Old Lodge, a very large log cabin structure on a lakefront beach. It exuded character and predates the UAW facility. Legend has it that Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz honeymooned here.

I was planning to return this spring, but now I wonder if it’ll be there.


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