A Brief Blue Lake History
1922: The Arens Art Colony begins serving gifted young artists in Door County, Wisconsin. Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp president, Fritz Stansell spends his summers there with his grandfather, Ludolph Arens, until the Art Colony closes in 1948.
1963: Blue Lake’s founder and president, Fritz Stansell, with the help of family and friends, begins taking the first steps to form Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, a non-profit summer school of the arts, modeled after his grandfather’s Art Colony.
1966: Blue Lake opens on July 5 when 56 campers arrive. A total of 280 campers attend this first season to study music, art, and dance.
1970: Blue Lake’s International Exchange Program begins by sending 90 young arts ambassadors to tour western Europe on its first goodwill cultural exchange.
1972: The first foreign group, Koor Vagantes Morborum from Brugges, Belgium, tours Michigan as part of Blue Lake’s International Exchange Program.
1973: With the aquisition of the Howmet Playhouse located in Whitehall, Theater is added as a major.
1982: Blue Lake Public Radio goes on the air and camper enrollment for the summer passes 4,000.
1991: Students from 72 of Michigan’s 83 counties, twenty-two states and eleven foreign countries attend Blue Lake’s 25th Anniversary Season.
1995: In its 30th season, Blue Lake offers more than 175 performances to public and camper audiences in the William Stewart Memorial Music Shell.
2000: Blue Lake completes Marek Hall North, the largest facility on campus, to include a dining area for 1,500, a storm shelter, the Blodgett Recital Hall, exhibit space, and more than 40 rehearsal rooms.
2001: As a part of it’s 35th Anniversary Season Celebration, Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp commissioned and performed the new opera “Ruth” by Blue Lake Vice President and well-known Michigan composer, Dr. James Niblock.
2004: Blue Lake’s enrollment tops 5,000 students for the first time.
2006: Blue Lake constructs a 750-seat, air-conditioned theater located in Camp Gershwin. James Niblock’s new opera, The Last Leaf, is the opening performance in the new facility.
2008: Blue Lake continues to offer dozens of educational fine arts programs for all ages, as well as a wide variety of performances during the Blue Lake Summer Arts Festival. The first campers arrived at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp on July 5th, 1966. Since that time, more than 300,000 gifted students have taken part in our varied arts programs. Whether you plan to join us at camp, tune in to Blue Lake Public Radio, or just stop by for a concert in the woods, we hope that you will enjoy the many offerings of our new season.