How it all started
Fillenwarth Beach was started by Arthur T. (A.T.) Fillenwarth and his wife Sadie. Arthur was a lawyer in Sanborn, Iowa. In 1919, he purchased land in Arnolds Park and built a cottage for his family. The cottage was simple. It had no windows, but awnings and screens covered the openings. It was named “Old Faithful”.
One day a man came by and offered to rent this cottage for a week. A.T. couldn’t refuse the offer and so he and his family moved back to Sanborn for the week. Several more offers to rent his cottage followed, and A.T. decided he needed to build more cottages for rental purposes so he and his family could enjoy staying at Okoboji.
In the early twenties, A.T. built 7 cottages for rent. All were summer cottages with glass windows. A.T. realized that rental demand for his cottages was there, and built 12 lake bank cottages below his first 6 rental cottages. A.T. also acquired other cottages so that by 1930, he had 36 cottages.
Sadie Fillenwarth did the resort’s laundry, handled the reservations, and acted as receptionist. A.T. and Sadie had 3 children. Faith, who died of scarlet fever at age 7, Joy, who died shortly after birth, and Kenneth, who was born in 1924.