Idlewild has a historic founding, different from many other communities where African Americans are the largest demographic in population. Idlewild was settled by homestead entrepreneurs Erastus and Adelbert Branch, two Caucasian Brothers from White Cloud Michigan, who saw an economic opportunity to sell land to African Americans. Once the land was homestead, the Branch brothers partnered with two African American men from Chicago, and started the Idlewild Resort Company. It was this company that specifically targeted African American buyers to purchase land in Idlewild for a little as $1 down payment.
Today, Idlewild is still for sale. It not that the founders or the IRC never reached their goal, in fact, they exceeded it, creating Idlewild, Idlewild Heights, Idlewild Terrace, Paradise Gardens, Bell's Idlewild, Thompsons Terrace, and other sub-divisions of the chartered community called Idlewild. Before the borders of Yates Township were developed in 1946-1948, Idlewild existed across three (3) different townships in Lake County: Yates, Cherry Valley, and Pleasant Plains. Today, The Idlewild Community census data is tainted with inaccurate demographics and borders that blend the community with its neighbor, Chase Township. Yes, Idlewild existed 34 years before Yates Township was created.
Originally as a place where upper class Blacks could purchase land - such as Dr. Daniel Hale Williams and Madame CJ Walker, Idlewild quickly became known as an affluent community. It was attractable to many people of different ethnicities, as many people wanted to come see the entertainment of African American singers and performers in its hey day! Celebrities such as Della Reese, Aretha Franklin, The Temptations and the 4 Tops performed in Idlewild along with many other notable African Americans entertainers of the 1930s - 1960s. One method of communicating these events was the Chitterling Circuit, a newspaper and radio outlet that kept Black communities informed on the latest Black news. Yet, before the entertainment era, Idlewild was developing as a community, settling Civilian Conservation Corps members, and offering new entrepreneurial opportunities to African Americans in the Mid-West and Northern regions! Idlewild , for many middle and working class Blacks, became an opportunity to own land!
Owning land for Black people was an important stability move, and a realized American dream. Before 1948, African Americans were prohibited from buying land in many states. These deed restrictions deferred the American Dream for many Black people, and for others, it dried up in the sun. Today, the majority of land owners in the United States are still white. Stereotypically, too many people think of Black people as not-owning land, living on public assistance, and not being financially able to own land. That right there is a myth. However, I will say, that not enough Black people own land, and not enough Black people own land in a Black Community.
Saving Our Land!
Contact our current Township Supervisor at (231) 745-3960. You can also inquire about property for sale, local taxes, building permits, local ordinances and more! Yates Township Offices is proud to have history of a majority African American Township Board since its incorporation.
Idlewild is the Largest LAND-BASED African American Resort Community!
Idlewild won't retain that historic designation if the majority of property owners in Idlewild are not Black! Currently, Idlewild's demographic is 68% White and 32% Black and Native. There are literally thousands of lots and parcels available to purchase for small prices!
About 237 people vote in our regular elections, and there are over 900 year round residents and 2,700 residents with the summer season influx of the Idlewild Club Owners annual return.
Buy Land in Idlewild!
Or Donate to HITS so we can save our land and preserve properties in Idlewild for beautification and public space! Your donations are tax-deductible! We will run this campaign until the end of 2020! Keep up with our progress and developments online or on our social media platforms!
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