The Original Sensational Showmen

The Original Sensational Showmen
National Guard Armory-Concordia - 1965

Friday, February 27, 2015

Lakewood Ballroom Lake View, Iowa

The Lakewood Ballroom has been a fixture near the shores of Black Hawk Lake in Lake View since 1889 when the area was known as Graves Grove. In 1913 the Lakewood area was developed into an amusement park. From 1913-1946 the amusement park including the ballroom, beer garden, hotel, soda fountain, skating rink and 40 cottages, was owned by Bill Wieland and his brothers. There was also an ice house that stored the ice harvested from the lake during the winter. Speed boats could be rented and ferries from town carried people from the bay in town to Lakewood at one time. The ballroom was known as the ‘Japanese’ ballroom. According to Bill’s daughter Betty Wassom, “the Lakewood had the best hardwood dance floor around. Modern dances were held on Thursdays and Saturdays and old time dances on Tuesdays.” In 1936 a fire destroyed the “Japanese” ballroom. A new dancehall was quickly built and called Swing-Lan. Many of the big bands such as Lawrence Welk and Tiny Little played the ballroom. Lakewood was sold to Fred and Blanche Shaw in 1946. Fire again hit in 1955. Swing-Lan burned so the Shaws converted the skating rink of the amusement park into the new Lakewood Ballroom. Friday nights became teen night and many IRRMA Hall of Fame bands played there such as The Flippers, The Rumbles, The Thunderbolts and The Senders. However the Lakewood would again be destroyed by fire in 1980. Hall of Famer Gary Johnson was so saddened by the loss that he wrote and recorded a song called “The Last Dance at Lakewood .” The property was sold to Darrell Schroeder and Larry Beckman in 1980 and they built the Lakewood as it stands today. It is known for the largest floating dance floor in the state of Iowa . The ballroom not only served up the best music around, but wedding receptions, anniversaries, craft shows, large meetings and proms were held there. Citing slow business, the Lakewood was put up for auction in 1997 and purchased by Orville Bohlmann. It reopened from 2003-2006 under the management of Allen and Sandy Boeckman. It closed again in October of 2006 and is now for sale by Bohlmann.

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