What's News in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin
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In and around 1924, Edith Rockefeller McCormick purchased 1,800 acres in Pleasant Prairie from Lake Michigan to (the current day) Sheridan Road between the City of Kenosha and the state line. Her dream was to create an ideal community for wealthy socialites. McCormick ran a contest to name the development. A LaPorte, Indiana man cleverly incorporated McCormick’s first name to win the contest (and $5,000) with the name Edithton Beach.
McCormick’s plan, sometimes referred to as her “picture of architectural perfection,” included a: downtown, golf course, model playgrounds, school facilities, and grand arch (actually erected across Highway 41 which is now Sheridan Road). Limited construction began and included roads and a bridge before her dream faded with the stock market crash of 1929. Edithton Beach was never completed.
Prior to the end of World War II (in 1943), 845 acres in the area were used as an antiaircraft training site. Shortly after, the Kenosha Conservation Club submitted a proposal to the State Planning Board (in 1946) to acquire the land for a state park. Instead, on November 13, 1946, a Chicago group purchased 1,200 acres of the land and named the area Carol Beach Estates. A cluster of modest homes were built in scattered locations. More homes were built along the Lake Michigan shoreline, some fancy and some as small cottages.
Sporadic development continued until a land use management plan was adopted in the 1980’s. This plan identified some lands for additional homes while protecting scientific/natural areas of great significance. The protected areas are known as the Chiwaukee Prairie, a National Natural Landmark that is recognized as one of the best remaining examples of Lake Michigan shore low prairie in the upper Midwest.
If you would like to contribute to local stories, collections, or other “Peeks at the Past,” you can reach the Historical Society at HistoricalSociety@plprairie.org or (262) 947-3600.