Middle Bass Inn History:

Middle Bass Island Inn is an all-brick home built in 1864 by German immigrants.

Sitting on almost an acre of land, the brick used in constructing the house was brought from Germany, and they were transported to the island on sleds in the winter.

Five families have called this beautiful piece of history their home, including a former winemaker of the historic Lonz Winery.

Below the trapdoor in a room on the first level lies a hidden area where slaves would hide and wait for Lake Erie Ice to be ready to cross to get to Canada.

Following the abolition of slavery, this room was used by rum runners to hide and store liquor. On July 9th of 2008 a tour of all the historic homes including the Inn will be given by the Historic Museum.

The home and 12 approximate acres were used as a fishing camp from approximately the 1940's through to 1983 with over 14 trailers and buses used as homes or sleeping cottages for the many fishermen that came to the Island to catch the world known walleye, perch and feisty small mouth bass. As time went on the then owner Albert Gmelch sold off many of the leases he had with the fishermen that rented the busses and trailers.

As you look to the west down the new Fox Road now behind the Inn it used to be in front of the Inn you can see some of what was at one time a fishing village / area. The leases are recorded at the Ottawa County Court house.

It is documented that many Presidents, Politicians, and Business owners have come to Middle Bass Island to fish and enjoy the entertainment offered in the early era. Most of the dignitaries stayed in the "Club Area" of Middle Bass Island, on the west side.

Fox Road prior to being redirected in the 1980's came in front of the Inn along the beach and in front of all the trailers close to the beach. It went through where our current gathering room is. Several older native residents have stated that there at one time was a boardwalk in front of the Inn along the water, for residents to walk along the beach area above the water. We have a black and white picture in the Inn showing the old trailers along Fox Rd which at that time was directly along the lake.

The Inn has a full dry basement.Approximately 8ft high, hard to believe, but yes. The footer walls in the front are approx. 18" to 24 inches thick of native limestone in really good shape. The lower level has 2 exits, a utility room, and card table and chairs to allow a place for card games, board games etc.


Anton Fischer was the one of the first owners of the land buying it from the Caldwell Estate back in the 1860 era. Anton Fischer then built the current brick residence and grew grapes and fruit trees on the 12 acres the family owned. He had a daughter Catherine. Catherine married Louis Gmlch. They continued to farm the land, grow the grapes and several fruit trees and send them to the Detroit area to sell and make money.

In June of 1914 Antone Fisher passed away. His siblings Charles, Frank and Catherine Gmelch inherited the home and 12 acres after the death of Anton. Later that year in December of 1914 the 2 brothers Quit Claimed their rights to their sister Catherine for the sum of twenty six hundred dollars ($2600).

When Catherine married Louis Gmlch they had a son Albert, Albert had several children that lived in the home and on the island with him for many years. One of his daughters Betty (Dutt) had several children one of which still comes up and stays in the trailer next to the home on the west. We love to talk to her and hear of all the past history. Catherine (Fisher) Gmlch passed away May 9th 1946, Albert, her husband, became the sole owner. Approximately 1975 he passed ownership to his siblings, Betty Dutt and another sister.

1980 Betty Dutt, Albert Gmlch's daughter sold the property to Paul Aaron. She retained her lot and trailer next to the home and her daughter Diane still lives there during the summer. The remaining 11 plus or minus acres were sold off throughout the past years to the folks that had the fishing leases on them.

In 1983 Emaus Smith purchased the home from Paul Aaron of Cleveland.Paul Aaron was in the Radio Broadcasting Business. In approx 1983 the gathering room out by the lake was added. For the next several years they added the updated plumbing and electrical. Under the ground throughout the lot are many of the old busses that lined the old Fox Road Fishing Village. It was hard to get rid of the buses, unsightly above ground, thus Emaus Smith with a back hole buried many of the buses and trailers around the home. A few of the springs are still visible sticking up out of the ground.

Kim & Ralph Renninger purchased the home Sept 8th, 2006 Kim and Ralph had been coming to Middle Bass Island since 1996. They joined Middle Bass Island Yacht Club at that time and came to the Island to enjoy. In 2005 they started to look around to purchase property after the State of Ohio decided to put over 12 milllion dollars into the area, marina and winery. The entire family and many friends worked that year up until the ferry quit running Nov. 24 to improve the Inn. They have done many of the current improvements you currently enjoy. Tom Renninger, a teacher in Tiffin Ohio, Ralph's brother invited his students up to camp out, work and enjoy the Inn and Island. About 21 of the students came over on the ferry and helped to update the Inn to its current state. In 2007 the new furnace, a big plus on those cold fall days was added. The first time the Inn had heat since when it was heated by pot bellied stoves currently in the dining room. A new 4 ton air conditioning unit was added in spring of 2008

In summer of 2008 3 of the 4 baths were updated with new units and soon to be new flooring. In 2009 we hope to re do the wood floors, in the foyer, parlor, dining room and bedroom's we will attempt to bring them back to natural wood and beauty We also want to add all new "Old Style" push button switches in the brick part of the home.

SUGAR ISLAND: 1/2 mile west of the Inn. A family from Columbus currently owns the Island. Many times you are able to walk out to the Island through the water, Approx deepest depth is 4 feet.

This site updated, Jan 2009RJR


Come see for yourself and be a part of the continuing history of this lovely home!


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