Clyde Compton – 154 Cedar Lake West

(excerpt from Jim Prior’s “Story of Cedar Lake”)

Clyde Compton’s first experience with Cedar Lake was in the summer of 1920 when he visited the Buist family living in the Wright tract. He recalls swimming from that area in the southeast quadrant of the lake to the West Beach.

He bought his present home at 154 Cedar Lake West in 1935 after having rented the house where Edith Strba resided. Clyde lived in Roselle Park and he and Chalries “Whitey” Meyer were schoolmates and bridge partners. Meyer bought 156 Cedar Lake West. “Prior to our purchases, the W.P.A. put the waterlines through and had to blast all the way,” Clyde recalls, “No one could afford to pay for such a thing today. We used to park our cars on the Circuit Road in those days and walk down to the house.

“The area at the upper end of the west side of the lake had been developed for his personal use by a Mr. Wright Loimer —a producer (and actor) of plays on Broadway. He used to have the entire cast of his shows, then currently playing, up for a weekend. The ampitheatre he built and used was overgrown with some sumac and grass in 1935, so it had been some years since it was used. I would estimate between 1910 to 1914.” (Note: Lorimer died in 1911, see obituary)

“Charlie Wilken’s house at 152 Cedar Lake West supplied water for the complex; Bob Kinander’s was a chicken house; and Tom Davis’ house was used to accomodate guests and as a central commissary. The house is now owned by Don MacKenzie and was at that time occupied by Clarence Brown who was Lorimer’s theatrical agent. Anthony Schell’s house was the Lorimer horse barn; while the carriage barn was on the piece of land where we built the private driveway leading to the five houses on the lakefront in 1963.

“In 1952, Charlie Meyer built an all-aluminum inclinator, a moveable elevator that moved up and down the hillside, carrying three people or two heavy persons. It had a 133-to-1 gear ratio and worked well for the 13 years we used it. We parked our cars on Circuit Road and used the inclinator to come down to the house; but, after the road was put in, there was no need for this.

“Nathan Lazaraus acquired that part of the Lorimer property which included the original mansion and formal gardens from a Mrs. Linton about 1955. Anson Wright, Lazarus’ son, inherited it, and later sold it. That property is now owned by Paul Collins.” Clyde says the houses in which he and Meyers live were of pre-fab construction. The panels were loaded on row boats commandeered from the local inhabitants and floated up the lake. Then the chimneys, foundations and dock were built on the site. This was in the 1920’s. When Clyde (and wife Fran) bought his house in 1936 for the amazing sum of $1,100, it was just for summer use. A tree had fallen through the house and he had to jack up the chimney which was leaning at a precarious angle. The chimney righted, he then had to put tie-rods under the floors and through the eaves to pull the house back together.

Having gone to work for Prudential in 1923, Clyde soon after living in the house summers decided to winterize it. So, by 1939 he had changed the standing partitions to actual rooms, dug out a basement, installed heat and was off on his year-round living at Cedar Lake. Clyde’s brother Harold recalls: “When Emily and I purchased property at 169 Cedar Lake West (now Kinander), the first house on the right coming into the lake was owned by Fred Lidle and the next house was owned by his sister, Mamie Hiler (widow of Aaron Hiler). These people were both distantly related to my wife. She and her folks had visited at the lake several years before we purchased.

“We had a property search made which was based on Map #301 filed April 2, 1907 and an abstract from ‘Cedar Lake Park Incorporated near Boonton and Denville, Rockaway Township, Morris County, New Jersey from survey 1906 by Lewis Van Duyne.’ This search also shows that there are ‘mining rights’ reserved in the early deeds, as follows: “Mines and minerals, quarries or marble and plaster of paris, with a right of ingress and egress, forever, hereafter, to open, improve and work said mines and quarries with may be necessary in working, carrying on and improving said mines and Quarries.”

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