Remembering Bartlett’s Pavilion, Pleasant Lake, 1916-2006
Every time I hear Deep Purple's “Smoke On The Water”, I think of the old Bartlett's Pavilion at Pleasant Lake.
Most Boomers recall Bartlett's as a great Rock 'n Roll & dancing venue but it goes back much further than the 50s and 60s.
A resort hotel was built at Pleasant Lake around 1897 by Eldwin T. Crumb on a leased cow pasture. There were plenty of activities for customers & vacationers, including 10-cent boat rides on the lake.
According to Mlive.com, the Bartlett story begins in 1916 when Hugh Bartlett acquired a chunk of land from his father who was a successful Jackson businessman. He constructed a two-story dance hall which proceeded to burn down in 1927 after getting struck by lightning.
In 1928 Bartlett had rebuilt the pavilion and added more stuff to the land: an arcade, miniature golf, swimming rafts, and water slides. Inside, the dance/band area was on the second floor, while the first floor was a conglomeration that featured a candy counter, ice cream soda fountain, pinball, pool tables, and restaurant. The whole place was a teen dream.
In the 1940s the most popular music names of the day came to Bartlett's: Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Glenn Miller Band, Harry James, Les Brown. Stan Kenton, Tommy Dorsey, and plenty more.
Bartlett sold his haven in 1952 to Bobbie & Chuck Walker, who kept the pavilion going through the 50s & 60s. They got many of the biggest names in Rock to appear: Bill Haley & His Comets, Chad & Jeremy, Four Tops, Herman's Hermits, Smokey & The Miracles, Stevie Wonder, Supremes, Temptations, and others.
Gene Davis bought the pavilion in 1968, but it burned down in 1970. He rebuilt in 1971, running it until he sold to George Glinsky. The Glinsky's finally closed Bartlett's for good in 2001, and it was demolished in 2006 to make room for more houses.