History of Chimney Corners

("Woodsmere" and "Pine Bluffs" ca. 1910-12)

The Chimney Corners property was originally purchased by the Piqua Handle company (Ohio) for logging purposes in the early 1900’s. Post-logging, brothers Olin and Will Rogers, as partners in the company, retained some of the land for themselves to build houses and establish Orchard Hills Farms.  They built the original residence, “Pinebluffs”, now our historic Lodge in 1910, followed by Woodsmere in 1912. Both structures still stand today and are part of our rustic-feel rentals.

When the depression hit, the Piqua Handle company was sold, and Olin Rogers found himself unemployed. With the orchard failing, due to arduous soil conditions, his wife Leola Rogers, whose family owned a boarding house in Pennsylvania, wrote letters inviting everyone she knew to vacation on the shores of Crystal Lake. In 1935, Chimney Corners was born!

Back then, guests consisting of “ladies” (mothers, daughters, aunts traveling together) were treated to home-cooked breakfast, lunch and dinner from the gardens and livestock. Other cottages were built over the ensuing years; Olin’s son, Jim, and his wife Mollie took over the resort in 1949. Mollie Rogers, an avid historian and environmentalist, published several cookbooks of favorite Chimney Corners recipes. She also penned a detailed history of the resort through the early-mid 1980’s. 

The resort once boasted a ski hill from 1960-1972 for winter guests, although we have since become a seasonal spring, summer and fall resort and let Buck Hills (aka Crystal Mountain Resort) do the winter sports.

Jim and Mollie’s daughter, Claudia and husband Rick Herman began running the resort and cooking the evening meals in 1982.  Mollie began suffering from long bouts of pneumonia and Jim was still building houses, so more hands were required to keep the resort operational.  Today, current owners, Claudia’s brother Jim Jr. and his wife Mary Gillespie Rogers operate the resort.  They officially took over in 1994.

Over the years, there have been many changes.  Cottages continue to be maintained and improved with modern conveniences but retain their vintage character and charm.  The Beach Dining Room (BDR), added as a breakfast and lunch place in 1964, and Mollie’s mother, Nona, spent many days cooking for guests. An occasional dinner meal was served as well…the two most popular were “Steak on the Lake” and Taco night. In 2014, Jim and Mary decided to close the Beach Dining Room and contemplate other ideas for the building. 

After getting a commitment in 2017 from then current Wednesday BBQ and Friday night dinner chef, Steve Tebo, it was decided to remodel the BDR and open it up as a new restaurant for the community, resort guest and cottage owners.  Rocks Landing opened in 2018, named for the Rogers men’s middle name of “Rockwell” and nick named “Rock”.    The restaurant features an upscale, casual menu and all are welcome.

In recent years, former guests have invested into the resort community and are now owners of some of these historic cottages.  There is an association of owners that either live here seasonally or allows Chimney Corners to rent their cottage and visit as their work schedule allows.

Many guests have crossed our thresholds and some families can boast over 50 years of summer weeks with us! These third and fourth generation families, have grown up with the Rogers and are considered “family”, establishing a “seniority” system that still stands today. Returning guests have priority for “their” summer week in “their” cottage before it is offered to other guests. This is sometimes challenging for new guests to visit us in July, but opportunities do arise to move into coveted weeks. Weekly rentals take priority over just a few nights rental, although with changing demands we do offer that option. And remember, the shoulder seasons of May, June, September and October offer their own brand of appeal…there is a time and season for all who visit.  We invite you to become part of our family so you too, can experience the history, character, and charm that is Chimney Corners Resort.