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WCSX City of the Week

Congratulations to Walled Lake,

You’re the WCSX City of the Week

Walled Lake Factoids:

  • Walled Lake is home to a stop on the Underground Railroad, which helped slaves from the South escape to freedom: Foster Farmhouse. Foster Farmhouse still stands today, having been moved to its current location at Reilly Park in 1997, and is considered by many to be a local treasure.

  • In the middle of the village (Liberty and Main streets) stood the “Town Pump” which welcomed the tired traveler or the doctor riding home from a midnight house call.  A single tin cup hung from a nail, which was used by all the village people.  School children would fill pails from it on their way to school and travelers would stop and water their horses there. It remained there until the 1930’s.

  • The popularity of the dance halls prompted Louis Tolettene to build what he called “the best ballroom in the state of Michigan”.  The new Casino Shores Pavilion opened its doors on April 13,1925.  The lavishly decorated ballroom boasted a 120′ x 140′ polished maple dance floor and a hand painted latice ceiling.

  • The new Casino Pavilion attracted the most popular bands of the time as thousands crowded into the dance hall every weekend.  In 1929 the country was thrown into the Great Depresssion…however, the Casino Pavilion kept its doors open and began radio broadcasts on location.  This is what put Walled Lake on the map…listeners from around the country would tune in and listen to the ballroom music emanating from the shores of Walled Lake.

  • As the “Big Band” era began…prominent  musicians from around the country came to perform at the “Walled Lake Casino”…as it became known.  Some of the famous names that performed in Walled Lake at the time were…Tommy Dorsey, Red Nichols, Glen Miller, Louis Armstrong, Sammy Kay, Guy Lombardo, and Lawrence Welk.  Lawrence Welk played the Casino frequently and even bought a cottage on Walled Lake so his family could be with him as he performed during the summers. 

  • In the late 1950s, attendence at the Casino dwindled, forcing the Tolenttenes to close the ballroom and later selling it in 1962.  New owner, Red Cramer, installed heating for year-round dancing…and the new format was…Rock & Roll!

  • Local Rock & Roll DJ, Lee Allan, began doing broadcasts and dance shows live from the Casino…once again filling the dance hall with capacity crowds.  Both local bands and marquee names performed at the Casino.  A few of the most memorable shows were the performances of teen idol Fabian, who took the stage to an overflowing fenzied audience…one of the first public appearances of 12 year old “Little” Stevie Wonder… and the much anticipated performance of Chuck Berry, the first after his release from jail. The Casino burned down Christmas Day in 1965.