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Bath House at Lake Shetek State Park Lake Shetek
State Park

National Register Listing:
July 1992

Eight WPA/Rustic Style historic resources at Lake Shetek State Park are included in a 34-acre historic district and an adjacent 2.5-acre group camp located on the eastern shore of Lake Shetek. The district includes a public use area and two buildings in the group camp facility. Architects for the park buildings were from the Design Office within the Minnesota Division of State Parks.

The park includes these historic resources:

Public Use Area
Beach House
Drinking Fountains
Stone Steps
Kitchen Shelter
Sanitation Building
Group Camp Facility
Mess Hall
Crafts & Recreation Bldg

Historical Significance

State park planners selected Lake Shetek as the site for the park because lakes are rare in this section of the state. They hoped a park with extensive recreational facilities would attract a large county population and relieve the heavy use of Camden State Park, located 30 miles away.

The WPA/Rustic Style historic resources in the 34-acre district at Lake Shetek State Park are architecturally significant as exceptional examples of Rustic Style split stone construction. The Beach House in particular features finely executed stonework employed in a series of stairways, terraces and retaining walls.

The Mess Hall and the Crafts and Recreation Building located in the adjacent Group Camp are significant because they are two of only five group camp buildings in the state park system constructed outside of the St. Croix Recreational Demonstration Area.

The landscape design for Lake Shetek State Park is architecturally significant as one of the most extensive plans from the period. In addition to the designs for the public use area and the group camp facility, architects designed a series of causeways to link five islands and provide a roadway across the lake. Five causeways were eventually constructed, but the final link to the mainland was never built.

Park History

Lake Shetek State Park was established in 1937, although a monument had been built on this site in 1907 in memory of 12 people who died in the U.S.-Dakota Conflict of 1862. The park was developed by a WPA camp composed of 200 transient and homeless men.

Established in the fall of 1934, the WPA camp was located west of the park on Keeley Island. It was initially operated by the State Emergency Relief Administration and was one of 32 transient camps in the state. The residents of the camp were involved in various projects throughout Murray County until it closed in 1940.

The buildings occupied by the WPA were constructed as permanent structures, not typical temporary ones. The work camp facilities were intended to serve as a group camp for the underprivileged after the facilities were no longer needed by the relief program. However, the work camp section of the park was later sold, and the WPA camp is now used as a church camp.

For current information about Lake Shetek State Park, go to the DNR website.