A few weeks ago at the book launch for “A Brief History of Noblesville” I was asked if I knew anything about Sycamore Lodge.
That question stumped me.
I was familiar with Lagoon Lodge at Clare and Horseshoe Lodge near 160th Street and River Road, but couldn’t recall ever running across a “Sycamore Lodge.”
After a couple of people told me they found information about it in the old newspapers, I did a little digging myself.
Sycamore Lodge was the summer home of William Houston Craig (known mainly as Will H. Craig in his time.) Craig was part owner and editor of the Noblesville Ledger in the early 1900s.
(The Craig House, the big brick mansion that used to sit next to the First Presbyterian Church on Conner Street but is now situated across the street, was his city residence.)
Craig and his wife built Sycamore Lodge in 1903 and named it for the tall sycamores that surrounded it.
The home was about three and half miles northwest of Noblesville, somewhere in the area where Hinkle Creek branched off from Cicero Creek. I’ve been unable to fix an exact location, however. Some articles indicate it was on Cicero Creek, others say Hinkle Creek. 
A story in the July 7, 1903 Hamilton County Ledger described the lodge as consisting of “a large sitting room with a rustic mantel that is to be admired, a dining room, kitchen and three sleeping rooms upstairs.”
Outside were “swings, hammocks and many rustic structures that are in keeping with the surroundings,” and a spring house with a flowing well.
The article also mentioned two trees with cushioned seats christened “Spoony Tree” and “The Place For Proposals.” Both spots were popular with young female guests, for obvious reasons.
The Craigs did a fair amount of entertaining at Sycamore Lodge, hosting picnics, private parties and dinners such as a goose roast and a “possum” supper. At these events, their guests often enjoyed outdoor activities such as boating, swimming, fishing, camping, hayrides, and sports like tennis and croquet.
Baseball was the highlight of an October, 1907 gathering of Indiana newspaper men and their wives. On that occasion, the guests were sent home with postcards of Sycamore Lodge as a souvenirs of their visit.
The Craigs also allowed other families, and clubs and organizations such as the Shakespeare Club and the Elks, to rent Sycamore Lodge.
By 1908, Sycamore Lodge was in such demand that Craig built another summer cottage, “Broadview,” nearby and rented it out as well. Broadview burned down less than a year later, however, possibly due to arson. 
Craig sold Sycamore Lodge some time before 1913.
In the following years, the lodge went through more than one owner before being bought in 1937 by Louis Schwitzer, the president of the Schwitzer-Cummins Co., and the first man to win a race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
(Note that I didn’t say he won the first Indianapolis 500. He won a five-mile contest held in 1909, two years before the initial 500.)
Throughout its history, Sycamore Lodge had been the target of multiple break-ins and vandalism, and in July of 1944 it was vandalized once again. Schwitzer advertised a $100 reward for “the apprehension and conviction of the person or persons who looted and virtually destroyed the Sycamore Lodge . . . “
That was apparently the end of Sycamore Lodge. I couldn’t find any later information about it, nor did I see any indication the culprits responsible for its destruction were ever caught.
I suspect that site of Will H. Craig’s old summer home now lies under part of Morse Reservoir.
Note: Nancy Massey and I will be signing copies of “A Brief History of Noblesville” at Barnes and Noble Sunday, December 16 from 1-3 p.m.
- Paula Dunn’s From Time to Thyme column appears each Friday in The Times. Contact her at younggardenerfriend@gmail.com