Banner for Sweethaven's History

About Sweethaven Resort

In the 1920’s Joseph & Bessie Vavra built a Sears house and 5 cottages on 20 acres and opened the Vavra Resort. Their 3 sons Joe Jr., Robert & Andy would help out manning the store, doing their chores and surrendering their bedrooms, sleeping in the basement, when a border showed up needing a room for the night.

Shr History5

In the 20’s & 30’s the summer “campers” were Chicagoans of the Jewish faith. During WWII they were of Czechoslovakian descent. They would pay $50 per summer for a cottage with electricity, a hand pump in the kitchen for water and an outhouse. They would come as soon as school let out and leave just before Labor Day. The mom & kids spent their days tending to their gardens, at the beach or in the orchards. On Friday’s the dads would arrive at the Union Pier train station at the corner of Red Arrow Highway and Union Pier Road, greeted by their tanned wives and freshly scrubbed children.

Shr History2

The family would walk from the train station back to the Vavra Resort to a home-made feast topped off with peach & berry pies. We have heard many times that no one had a better childhood than those lucky campers.

Shr History3

Many of the families spent the summers during WWII together and celebrated VJ Day with an awesome celebration in the original Robin cottage.

The families continued to come thru the 50’s, but the 60’s offered in-home air conditioning, shopping centers and suburban yards that felt like the country but were more convenient. The kids grew up, had jobs and kids of their own. By the 1990’s the cottages and their contents were quite run down, as was the  barn, tractor and outhouses. The Vavra’s decided in 1990 to sell the 10 acre parcel with the main house, 5 cottages, barn and the schoolhouse/store.

Around the same time we decided to make a change in our own lives. We
wanted to leave our city jobs and open a B&B in Harbor Country. We
fell in love with the property at first sight, although everyone else
thought we were nuts. We hired a contractor, enlisted the help of
friends & family and built the Dove, Robin & Wren Cottages and
were open for business on August 1, 1991. Renovation soon began on the
Cardinal Cottage and she was ready for guests in June of 1992. The brand
new Martin House opened in January of 1996 and our Heron House debuted
in June of 2016.

Shr History7