Hudson Lake * Laura Mazzuca Toops
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Hudson Lake ·  The real life locations

Hudson Lake may be fiction, but many of its locations are based on fact and some of them are still in existence. Here are a few:

The Blue Lantern
(7038 N. Chicago Road, New Carlisle)

The novel’s setting, environment and main character, the Blue Lantern was constructed by local entrepreneur W.J. Smith in 1914 and was originally christened the Casino. St. Louis bandleader Jean Goldkette leased the property in the spring of 1926 and renamed it the Blue Lantern for the duration of the summer season. Throughout the ‘20s and ‘30s, the site played host to some of the most famous bands of the era, including Benny Goodman, the Dorsey brothers, Guy Lombardo, Lawrence Welk, and many more. The dance hall fell into disuse during the Depression and struggled along over the years as a roller rink, auction site and finally, a boathouse. It was renovated in the early 2000s and still stands today, where it is becoming a popular site for local weddings and parties.

photo of the dance hall today at Hudson Lake

University of Notre Dame
(South Bend)

Harriet’s boyfriend Rudy is concerned about competition from “those sheiks from Notre Dame.” Located in South Bend, the college was an all-male, primarily Catholic institution in 1926, when the novel takes place. In 1924, South Bend was also the setting for a little-known violent confrontation between Notre Dame students and local members of the Ku Klux Klan, who were protesting the university’s strong Catholic influence in South Bend.

Studebaker Plant
(610 W. Broadway St., South Bend)

The Studebaker factory was one of the region’s employment powerhouses in 1926. Though the original factory succumbed to the wrecking ball in 2004, an historic Studebaker dealership in downtown South Bend was transformed into a museum in 1983.

Tribune building

WSBT studios
(225 W. Colfax Ave., South Bend)

The location, now home to the South Bend Tribune newspaper, once housed a radio studio that broadcast WSBT during the 1920s. Bix and the Goldkette Orchestra played live in the radio studio during the summer of ‘26.

Palais Royale

Palais Royale
(105 W. Colfax Ave., South Bend)

Bix and the Goldkette Orchestra played this swanky venue in May 1926 for the Notre Dame spring prom. Built in 1922, the hall was popular from the ‘20s through the ‘50s, but had fallen into disuse. It was renovated in 2002 and is back in use as a banquet hall today.

Hudson Lake Cemetery
(8450 E. 700 N., New Carlisle)

Bix and Harriet’s rendevous spot, this local cemetery has gravestones dating back to the 1840s.

Hudson Lake train stop

South Shore train

Bix and the Goldkette gang regularly took the South Shore on their jaunts into Chicago. Now operated by the Northern Indiana Commuter Transit District (NICTD), the train runs from the Randolph Street Station in downtown Chicago to the South Bend Airport. It’s known by train aficionados as one of the last interurban routes in the country. The Hudson Lake stop is right across from the old dance hall.

Indiana University
(Bloomington, Indiana)

Harriet Braun and her boyfriend Rudy shared their alma mater with another famous alumnus Hoagy Carmichael, who graduated from IU’s law school. Hoagy was a long-time friend of Bix Beiderbecke legend has it that his immortal “Stardust” was inspired by Bix’s cornet solo on “Singin’ the Blues.”

Bix's cottage
(New Carlisle)

The infamous “little yellow cottage” where so much of the book’s action takes place is still in existence, although it has been painted blue and moved from its original site across from the Blue Lantern. During the ‘20s, frame cottages were available for rent along the shores of Hudson Lake.

sunset on Hudson Lake


Diversy Arms today

Rendez-Vous Café/Diversey Arms Hotel
(644 Diversey Blvd.)

Bix slept here in the Diversey Arms Hotel, upstairs from the Rendez-Vous Café -- in the spring and summer of 1925. The café is long gone, but the building still stands as retail spaces below and apartments above.

Palmer house lobby today

Palmer House Hotel
(17 E. Monroe)

McGurn takes Joy here for a shopping spree and a little “whoopee.” Constructed in 1925 and named after Chicago tycoon Potter Palmer, the hotel in its current incarnation is still thrilling with its Art Deco lobby.

Green Mill today

Green Mill Café
(4802 N. Broadway)

The joint was jumping when Machine Gun McGurn ran it in the ‘20s -- and it still is! Built in 1907 as the Green Mill Gardens and once part of a block-long entertainment complex, the bar is best known today as a live jazz venue featuring the finest Chicago musicians. With its long, curved bar and original Art Deco fixtures, it’s a great place to get a flavor of the Capone days.

Dearborn Street train station in Chicago as it appears today, image courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Dearborn St. Station
(47 W. Polk St.)

Bix leaves from here in Fall 1925 for a St. Louis gig. Built in 1885, the Romanesque Revival-style station symbolized the burgeoning railroad industry in America and Chicago’s role as the hub of that industry. After years of neglect, the station began a new life in the mid-1980s as a commercial center, enhancing the surrounding revitalizing community. It is one of the oldest railroad stations in the U.S. and the last remaining of Chicago’s early downtown stations.

the Chicago Theater today

Chicago Theatre
(175 N. State Street)

Joy catches Bix in the Paul Whiteman Orchestra at this Chicago landmark. Built as a movie theater in 1921 by the Balaban & Katz chain, the 3,600-seat house also hosted live entertainment. After years of disrepair, this grande dame was restored to her former glory in 1986 and today has resumed its showplace status.

Hull house today

Hull House
(800 S. Halsted)

Harriet learns about Bix’s death while she’s working as an intern at this famous Chicago settlement house. Now a museum housed in two of the original buildings, Hull House still stands, a testimony to the dedication of social worker, activist and Nobel Prize winner Jane Addams.

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All written content ©2016  Laura Mazzuca Toops
(unless otherwise indicated)
Website design & maintenance by itpwebdesign
The beautiful Hudson Lake cover painting by Bryan Shackelford
was adapted and used in the header on this page.

This page updated August 3, 2016