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Lakeside Heritage Trail
10. Ross Row
First Block of Plum Avenue bordering Perry Park
Ross Row – Circa 1915
Ross Row – 2015
After her husband died in 1906, Julia Ross sold their Sycamore summer cottage, built a new family cottage at 620 Lakefront and moved the family to the wide open spaces on the far east side of Lakeside. Her son, William D. Ross, began purchasing lots east of the family cottage, recognizing the potential for developing new rental properties in the area. He chose to build the new rental buildings as American Four Squares, a style very popular at the turn of the Twentieth Century. Reflecting President Theodore Roosevelt’s promise of a “square deal for everyone,” the design was economically space-efficient, and perfectly suited for Lakeside’s small lots. As the name suggests, the structures were two-story cottages, had square shapes, pyramidal roofs and full one-story front porches. Large windows on both the first and second floors allowed increased ventilation and great views.
W.D. Ross eventually built twenty cottages and seven apartments along the streets surrounding Perry Park. The first group of rental cottages, built in the first block of Plum, became known as Ross Row. The entry and parking area behind the houses is known as Ross Court, designated by one of the few north-south street signs not named after a tree!
W.D took his rental business very seriously and Ross cottages became known as the gold standard of vacation rentals. The “Ross Pledge” promised complete baths, electric lights, comfortable beds, complete furnishings, room to sleep 10-12 people and a view of the lake from every cottage, as well as close proximity or playgrounds and the water.
After W.D. and his wife, Evalyn, died in 1943, their sons began selling off the cottages and rental business. By 1952 the last remaining Ross unit, originally Julia’s Lakefront family cottage, was sold.
Over a century later, it is a testament to the quality of their construction and the utility of design that all but 2 of the Ross-built cottages are still in existence. A self-guided Ross walking tour script has been developed and is available at the Lakeside Heritage Museum. While most Ross Cottages are now private residences, those available for rental can be found on the rental sites.