Cottage park Neighborhood, White Bear Lake Minnesota

Cottage Park was the first area of White Bear Lake Minnesota to be developed for summer recreation and is now a thriving residential community.

Today, Cottage Park is a residential area containing around 60 homes, some on the lake and some not. They all get to enjoy the lake and the very friendly resort type atmosphere. Presently the Cottage Park Homeowners Association (a Minnesota not-for-profit organization) represents the neighborhood, and is mainly responsible for arranging neighborhood get-togethers and overseeing the lake accesses.

This is the official Cottage Park neighborhood website.

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The Cottage Park area of White Bear Lake is just North of South Shore Boulevard and East of Old White Bear Avenue extending to the Lake. We are next to Lions Park and across Old White Bear Avenue from Goose Lake. Around the turn of the 20th Century it was the summer resort area for Saint Paul residents and whoever could get there. Thoughout the years it had several hotels – one with a casino – also a huge pavilion, boat rentals and fishing, docks for passenger boats to tour the lake and take people to and from the Wildwood amusement park, and much more.

1882 map of the area

The Cottage Park area began to grow in 1868 when the current railroad line was established and people could take a 10 minute train ride from Saint Paul instead of the 2 hour ride in a horse-drawn carriage. The Cottage Park clubhouse was built in 1885 as the main kitchen and community center for the new residents who built summer cottages in Cottage Park. The Cottage Park Association was established during this time.

Northwest Magazine from July 1885 stated that “Cottage Park is the first point on which one strikes the lakes, and as the train (from St.Paul) runs into the station the sheet of clear water lies spread before you, gleaming through the trees which fringe its banks. the place where the majority of casual visitors and pleasure seekers...stop to find amusement.”

When Mark Twain, in his Life on the Mississippi described White Bear Lake, he was referring primarily to Cottage Park. This is what he wrote: “Near Saint Paul and Minneapolis are several points of interest... The White Bear Lake area is less known. It is a lovely sheet of water and is being utilized as a summer resort by the wealth and fashion of the state...there are a dozen minor summer resorts around St.Paul and Minneapolis, but White Bear is the resort.”

The Leip Hotel, 1891

The Cottage Park Clubhouse ceased to serve its purpose when residents no longer ate their meals there. By 1890 most of the residents had built an additional cottage on their properties to house their dining rooms and kitchens. Most of these kitchen houses, as they were called, were well built and were later made into attractive homes. With these developments, the original Cottage Park Association was not active for many years.

Aerial view of Cottage Park, circa 1930, looking South from the Plantation nightclub.
Courtesy the
White Bear Lake Area Historical Society.

For more on the neighborhood’s past, here’s a presentation from the White Bear Lake Area Historical Society about the Plantation Nightclub and our neighborhood.

Preserving Lake Access

Access to the lake has always been an important part of living in the Cottage Park Neighborhood. The neighborhood also includes corridors between properties to access the lake. These were originally designed to allow bucket brigades to bring in lake water for firefighting.

The Association

Beginning in the late 1970s, the City tried to deny lake access to the neighborhood. One existing residence was demolished, and it appeared that there were plans to expand Lions Park by demolishing additional properties.

We resisted. The current CPHA was established as a Minnesota nonprofit corporation in 1981. A declaration of easements was agreed to in 1983. Many years of legal negotiations ensued; these were finally resolved in 1995.

In years past, the neighborhood hosted a big garage sale, as well as annual community get-togethers.

Neighborhood party, 1983

Newsletter, 1980s

Garage Sale Champions Award

Present Day

All homeowners in the neighborhood have lake access. Membership in the Association is open to neighborhood residents only and requires a nominal annual fee. The CPHA — a volunteer organization — has a Board of Directors, holds regular meetings, develops community social events, and works to maintain and preserve common areas within the neighborhood.

A community dock is on a section of lakeshore administered by the CPHA for its members. Each year in the Fall, we meet to develop a dock design for the year ahead and submit it to the White Bear Lake Conservation District for approval. Berth assignments and availability are determined by a number of factors, with the final decisions made by the CPHA Board of Directors.

→ For more information, including documents for realtors and CPHA members, contact us by email. ←

We now accept payments electronically using Venmo @cottageparkhomeowners

© 1981-2023 Cottage Park Homeowners Association, a Minnesota not-for-profit organization. All rights reserved.