In the latter half of the Nineteenth Century social and economic conditions helped to foster the growth of America's middle class and to allow that middle class the leisure time to take a yearly break from their work. Following the Civil War many were using their leisure time to get away from urban areas and to enjoy nature in more rustic settings while perhaps fishing, swimming, or enjoying other recreational activities. This was often done through camping out, or “tenting.” By the 1870’s much of the Lake Champlain shoreline was populated by such tenters during the summer months. Long Point was one of several camping destinations in the immediate area (among others were Thompson's Point, Mile Point, and Cedar Beach).
Long Point was at that time owned by a local farm family, the Ball family, that allowed campers on their property, allocating spaces by a leasing arrangement and offering services for sale such as transportation to and from the North Ferrisburgh railroad depot, providing milk, providing ice, renting boats, etc. Beginning in the mid 1880’s the Ball family started allowing the building of cottages on leased lots on Long Point. These leases were initially for a period of five years, and the lot and cottage became the property of the farm if the campers failed to make the lease payment, or did not wish to renew the lease nor sell the cottage.
Cottages during the early years were often built by partnerships of families or friends, often those who had previously tented together on the lakeshore. While some of these cottage builders were upper middle class, many were tradesmen such as carpenters or plumbers, or they were in businesses that gave them access to lumber, clapboard, shingles, etc. The majority of these tenters and cottage builders were Vermonters, in fact mostly from nearby towns and counties. Even from the early years, however, there were a few vacationers from further away, frequently from New York or Massachusetts.
Over the years, tents increasingly gave way to cottages on the Point, the largest percentage of Long Point's cottages having been built in the decade of the 1920’s. In the early 1920’s the farmer who owned Long Point, Artemas Ball, died, and rumors of the possible sale of the property were in the air. In response to concerns over what would happen to their cottages following such a sale, Long Point's summer residents formed the Long Point Association. When it became clear that the Long Point Farm was not about to be sold, the Association became a vehicle for negotiating with the farm for improved roads, water supply, electricity, etc. and for coordinating social events for Long Point residents. The Long Point Association was dissolved in the early 1960’s after the founding of the Long Point Corporation in 1959.
In the late 1950’s Guy Ball, then owner of the Long Point farm, died. The Long Point Realty Corporation (later renamed Long Point Corporation) was formed to purchase the Long Point farm property and work to represent the interests of Long Point residents, who were now eligible to become shareholders in the newly formed corporation. In the following years Long Point’s residents, through their corporation, worked to pay off the original mortgage on the farm property, improve roads, and deal with many other such issues of common concern to Long Pointers. Since the 1970’s major issues facing Long Point have been: environmentally responsible handling of waste water, rising property values and issues arising there from, providing water to cottages, and developing a common vision of the purpose and future of Long Point. Currently, an annual meeting of the Corporation is held on the first Saturday in August to discuss issues facing Long Point and for shareholders to vote on business before the membership.
Prepared by John Leidy History Committee Long Point Corporation 2005.