In the days when dancing was all the rage, Terrace Park’s Casino Ballroom claimed to be one of the most popular night spots in northwest Iowa. Opened in 1923—the same opening time at Arnolds Park’s Roof Garden Ballroom, ironically—the Casino offered nightly dancing, a bathhouse for changing into and out of your swimwear, and spectacular beach-side views.
Newspapers extolled the virtues of The Casino, saying “it will be a two story structure, 72 x 100 feet. It will be out of clay blocks, we understand, and to have terra cotta finish.”
“The entire top story will be used as a dance hall, while the lower floor is to be fixed up with bath rooms and also a room for checking purposes.”
“A veranda is to be one of the features on the upper story on the west and north sides to accommodate a good sized crowd who want to look on at the dance or listen to the music.”
“The Casino” was just a fanciful name. There was never any legitimate gambling that went on there.
The Casino’s inaugural advertising also promised “the most modern and complete accommodations for Bathers in the Middle West, affording them access to the ‘MOST PERFECT FRESHWATER BEACH IN AMERICA’” (sic) with its bath house.
With almost all of Terrace Park extensively damaged in a 1936 tornado, the Casino closed two years later. Ownership passed to the order of La Salette, and eventually to Boys’ Town for its summer camp. Extensively remodeled over the years, it was demolished in 1962 so that Boys’ Town could erect a purpose-built structure.
(Video above: Exterior view of the Casino Ballroom)
(Clearly, a lot of fun could be had at Terrace Park! Here is a clip of visitors enjoying what was offered on the beach.)
Today visitors can still enjoy an expansive part of the beach at Terrace Park. It is maintained by the city of West Okoboji and free to the public to enjoy.
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