History of Lake Grove Park

Lake Grove Park started in 1948 by James and Helene D Allen. They lived in California where James flew with the military airlift command. They purchased the 600 ac tract that included Lake Grove Park in 1946. Starting a summer resort was their plan for the property. Previous owners included Jason Budd, who successfully farmed the land until his death about 1890 and the Lawrence family. This prominent family from New York City and investors in the Watkins Flint purchase of 1798 received lands around Cayuta Lake.

In 1948 boat rentals were the primary business. Camping was primitive. Facilities were outhouses. To attract business, James and Helene built cabins starting in 1951. A sawmill on the property provided the lumber cut from on-site trees. Features of the cabins included running water, indoor plumbing and a screened in porch. At “$50 a week with boat” the cabins were popular recreation destination for those in the Elmira area.

By 1970, interest in camping replaced the demand for cabins. Clearing of areas resulted in the creation of looping roads from Sawmill road. Helene died in 1992 followed by James in 1999. They gave gifts of land to Cornell University that became the James and Helene D Allen Wetland preserve at the north end of Cayuta Lake.

James Jr. took over the PARK in 2000. He re-developed the campsites consistent with his parents’ interest in providing affordable outdoor recreation. Emphasis is on seasonal campers who want to spend their recreation time at a campsite inside a well-maintained PARK.