THE WHITE ELEPHANT
Pentwater, Oceana Co MI



Pentwater, MI (The White Elephant) (1918) - Contributed by Paul Petosky


In 1891, G.A. Williams arrived from Chicago and started promoting the idea of Pentwater as a summer resort second to none on the Great Lakes. The centerpiece was to be a huge hotel, complete with its own steamer service, direct from the hotel doorstep to Chicago. Williams was to build the hotel, named after his wife, Valeria. At Williams' request the township chipped in with money and land. In 1892 a huge white block structure, complete with castellated tower, was started. In 1893 building stopped. Accusations flew. Williams left town and the town was left with a hollow shell. Someone called it the "White Elephant" and the name stuck The White Elephant was destroyed in 1927, Williams was forgotten. However, his vision of Pentwater as a world class resort was not. Most beach homes and resort development date from this time and from the vision of the promoter of the White Elephant.

Indeed, you can come under the spell of Williams' vision by visiting the former site of the "White Elephant", now our village green, and watching summer children dance to the sprightly rhythms of our village band -- just like G.A. Williams always knew they would.
Source: Chamber of Commerce in Pentwater MI

Construction of the Valeria Hotel for summer visitors is begun in Pentwater, using blond bricks made from local sand. The huge hotel costs so much to build that Pentwater leaders repeatedly run out of money and have to stop and restart constuction. The bulding will never be fully finished, is never used as a hotel, and soon becomes known as "The White Elephant

In 1928 and 1929 the Hotel Valeria, commonly called the White Elephant, was destroyed by fire.