In 1789 Reuben and Elizabeth Brown first came to live on a farm in the Northwood area. Their daughter Deborah married a man named Jonathan Watson and they took over running of the farm after Reuben died. Two of the Watson boys (Reuben and James) stayed in the area, but the original farm passed into other hands.
Reuben Watson tried working in the mills in Lowell, Massachusetts, but soon returned to Northwood. In 1848 Reuben built a house for his wife Jane on the land on which Lake Shore Farm Inn now sits. Together they worked hard and the farm prospered, with Jane taking over as head when Reuben went off to fight in the Civil War. Three of their children died at a young age, but Edville survived to carry on the family name. Their daughter Lenora was a skilled needlewoman and many of her rugs and the hooked welcome sign are among the inn’s treasures.
Edville Watson tried many things during his life at the farm, including working as a shoemaker and spending time working in Massachusetts as his father had. He met his wife Annette there, and of their children, only Everett survived. In the late 1880’s Edville and Annette returned to Northwood. Edville, suspecting he had only a few years left to live, thought of enlarging his father’s house in order to establish a boarding house which would provide income for his wife and mother when he was gone.
They completed the building project in 1891, but Annette became ill and for thirty more years the boarding house idea was delayed. Edville kept cattle, hayed, and grew strawberries as a cash crop. Always interested in modern developments, Edville was among the first in the area to have indoor plumbing, a windmill and a telephone. But on Annette’s death, he left for California where he speculated on oil wells and patented a plan for a helicopter-like aircraft- too ahead of its time to be developed. He returned to Northwood in 1923 and did see his plans for a boardinghouse come to fruition under the guidance of his son Everett and his wife Lena, who had come to teach in Northwood from her home in New Brunswick.
Together Everett and Lena Watson ran the local phone system from the Piper Tavern in Northwood Center, keeping the switchboard open twenty-four hours a day as well as doing the bookkeeping, bill collecting and maintenance of the phone lines- all for $45 a month! In 1920 Edville told Everett and Lena that he planned to sell the farm unless they would come back to live there. So they gave up the telephone exchange and moved back to Jenness Pond to open up the house, long shuttered and neglected.
Everett and Lena had three children: Ermon, Ernest, and Eloise. The parents looked for ways to support the fanily, raising chickens and thinking about once again opening the house to summer guests. In the summer of 1926 Lake Shore Farm placed advertisements in Boston newspapers and the Lake Shore Farm Inn was established. Lena did all the hard work involved in caring for visitors while Everett supplied fresh vegetables, eggs and milk for the guests. Using the first tractor in the area, Everett grew strawberries, corn and potatoes to sell in neighboring cities. Though the farm prospered, Everett tired of it and left the family, eventually dying in Florida in 1968, far from his grandfather’s (Reubon Watson) farm.
Lena carried on running the inn, while her sons, Ermon and Ernest learned to farm from their grandfather. Eloise became her mother’s helper with the guests, learning all about running the boarding house. Ernest became tired of his role as younger brother and when the Hurricane of 1938 blew down thousands of tree, he became a lumberman. Ermon continued to produce milk and vegetables for the inn and for a canning factory in Massachusetts. Guests loved the farm aspect too, and would help him bring in cows for milking or hay before rain storms came.
As Lena, Ermon and Eloise prospered in their summer boarding business in the 1940’s, the improving economy allowed them to add eleven more rooms and enlarge the kitchen. A dishwasher, washing machine, freezers, and meat slicer made life easier for Lena. For the first time, with cows gone, the family could satisfy their desire to travel in the winter and spent some time in Arizona. Ermon married but had no children, and Ernest settled in Pittsfield where his family continues to live.
Elose married Ellis Ring in 1948 and began taking over the inn’s duties as her mother, Lena, slowed down. Both were very content to continue there, and after Ellis’s service in WWII and graduation from Springfield College, they set about making their summer lives revolve around the inn. Living in Springfield during the year, with summers at the inn, they realized that the time when people came to stay for a whole summer might be nearing an end.
In 1963, while building “The Annex” a separate eight room building, Eloise and Ellis realized that splitting their lives between Springfield and Northwood was not going to work any longer. So they moved to Lake Shore Farm permanently. Living there, they were able to extend the guest season and took guests year round, hosting square dancers, snow mobilers, tennis players and those who came to hear concerts given in the Recreation Hall built in 1960. In time, the fact that The Annex was not connected to the main building became a problem. To solve it, Dembling Hall (named for a friend David Dembling who designed it) was built, adding eight more rooms and a bar/recreation room below.
With Dembling completed, the inn now had 32 rooms available to visitors, many of whom came year after year to enjoy the pleasures of Lake Shore Farm Inn and Jenness Pond. Sandi Silva and Harry Ring, two of Ellis and Eloise’s children continued to work at the inn, carrying on the family tradition.
In 2012 the Inn was bought by Rick and Michelle Daniels and Rick's father Dick Daniels. Rick and Michelle's sons Ricky and Randy live at the inn with their parents. Dick Daniels and Sandy Cole live at Lake Shore Farm Inn half the year. The entire extended family is helping to modernize the accomodations for what we hope will be generations to come!