Life at Alice Lake
Alice Lake and its community is a scenic area of Ridgewood. It once held the stature of being its own municipality, complete with a town hall and post office. It became a popular spot for vacationers (many from Pittsburgh) in the 1920s and became part of Ridgewood in 1957, making Ridgewood approximately two and one-half miles wide (east to west) by four and one-half miles long (north to south).Alice Lake was a spring fed glacier-made lake one-half mile wide and a little more than one mile long, 8 acres, and with an average depth of 26 feet along a kettle bottom with holes as deep as 50+ feet.
Surrounded by approximately 750 private homes and cottages, the lake was picturesque with its quaint cottages and beautiful homes. Visitors could rent a room anytime at Richard and Melissa Bay’s Bed & Breakfast—a charming and spacious Folk Victorian home. They could tour the Alice Myers Museum—a colorful Gothic Revival House—every Tuesday through Saturday and acquaint themselves with the lake’s namesake. They could browse Ellen Waverly’s art gallery and buy excellent local artwork. And they could shop nearly every day at the nineteen specialty gift shops, which sold a mix of country and Victorian knickknacks not found in city chain-stores. Antiques were also a specialty, and Johnson’s Antiques and Auction was less than a mile away at downtown Ridgewood.
The Pennsylvania Fish Commission maintained the lake and its two public boat launches. The lake was used recreationally for swimming and fishing and for boating (with a 10 horsepower limit). There were rentals of pontoon, paddle or canoes at Maguire’s Boating, Fishing and Hunting, which was open year-round. For the angler, the Fish Commission stocked Alice Lake with pan fish, bluegill, perch, sunfish, walleye, northern pike, muskellunge, and small and large mouth bass. For the hunter, many public game lands bordered the area.In the winter, Alice Lake was widely used for ice fishing. Although many of the roads winding around the lake were dirt or gravel, the State maintained them well. Other winter activities included snowmobiling sponsored by the lake park’s Recreation Hall. The entertainment hall had a 24-lane bowling alley and a heated indoor swimming pool.
During the summer, there were fishing contests and kayaking, sailing and canoe rowing races on the lake, and go-cart racing and miniature golf at the Recreation Hall. City council displayed a fireworks show on the lake every Fourth of July.
Tourists and locals could sip wine coolers and dip lobster in drawn butter on the patio at the Mill Pond Restaurant at the south side of the lake while kids swam and slid down the fabulous water slide into the lake. Or they could have delicious homemade and hand stretched pizza, subs, and calzones any day of the year at Connie’s Pizzeria.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner were inexpensive pleasures at The Roundhouse. Once the lake’s roller rink, it became a restaurant and dining hall after fire nearly destroyed the building in 1966. The Roundhouse hosted dances and live music every Saturday night from June until the end of September.
The south side of Alice Lake comprised an Amish community, so it was common to see Amish buggies traveling the lake roads no matter the time of year.