Words from the President
By: Linda Sealey
We now have the first dinner meeting under our belt. We were overwhelmed with the response to the program and I want to thank everyone for the wonderful turnout. I hope ALL our programs receive such a great response. I know this newsletter is coming to you a bit late but we would really appreciate your reservations as soon as possible. Our vendors must order the food and need a fairly accurate count of people in order to be prepared for our meeting. I ask that you send your reservation in as quickly as possible. And just a reminder, that if you have NOT paid your dues yet we would also appreciate that payment. You, as members, receive a discount on the meal and program each month at member rates so it is important that your membership dues are paid. We certainly appreciate your cooperation.
Now that the temperatures have turned nicer out please keep in mind visiting Heritage Village at Big Creek and Eagle Bluff Lighthouse. These are two very historic sites and wonderful learning tools for the whole family and guests. I am a life-long resident and until I became a member of this Society I had NO idea these places existed. Please spread the word to all your friends and relatives to stop and visit. You might be surprised at what you learn about this wonderful County that we call home. Your continued visits to our sites make our Society what it is today, 89 years and growing!!!
I am sending big thank you to volunteers Mike & Pat Madden, who cleared the brush in the area behind the chapel. Their hard work easily saved the Society over $500 in expenses!
What’s New at Eagle Bluff Lighthouse, Fish Creek…
Patti Podgers, Curator/Manager
Although Door County’s lighthouses are a major tourist attraction, only four are currently accessible to visitors seasonally: our own Eagle Bluff Lighthouse, Cana Island Lighthouse, Plum Island Lighthouse (new in 2015) and Pottawatomie Light on Rock Island. But that may change sooner than later. Chambers Island’s lighthouse–the subject of folklore, ghost stories, and tragedies, may be restored in the near future.
Chambers Island is the largest island in Green Bay, measuring about 11 miles in circumference. Surrounded by rocky waters, the island proved a major detriment to the safety of ships passing through the nearby western channel. In 1837, Lt. G.J. Pendergast led a survey team through the western Great Lakes, assessing the need for navigational aids. At that point in time, Rock Island’s light was one of the few functional aids in the area. Lt. Pendergast wisely judged an even greater need closer to the Port of Green Bay. Ten years after Pendergast’s visit, settlers–farmers, lumbermen, fishermen, and shipbuilders—began populating the island and traffic on the bay increased rapidly.
But history has a way of turning its own pages and the firestorm that would become the Civil War was beginning to smolder; funding for navigational aids was soon diverted to the war-chests. As the war was coming to an end the Lighthouse Board once again sent a committee to the region to determine how best to protect shipping through Green Bay’s waters. A year later, the U.S. government finally acquiesced to the demands for additional aids and the Chambers Island light was functional in the spring of 1868.
A sturdy brick structure, the Chambers Island Lighthouse is based on a Norman Gothic design, an architectural pattern common throughout the Great Lakes. The lighthouse’s 4th Order Fresnel lens was positioned in the lantern room on top of a ten-foot octagonal tower. The entire property included approximately 40 acres. The first lighthouse keeper was Lewis Williams, assisted by Sam Hanson, a man who would suffer great tragedy. Hanson’s wife Mary and both of their sons died during his tenure. Hanson was eventually transferred to Cana Island’s lighthouse where he served for several months.
In 1955, the Coast Guard shuttered the lighthouse and automated the light. According to Steven Karges, author of Keepers of the Lights, “The Fresnel lens was sold at a surplus property auction… (And) is now on display at Warp’s Pioneer Village Museum in Nebraska, hundreds of miles from the waters of Green Bay that it once illuminated.”
So what happens now? Currently, the only way to visit the Chambers Island Lighthouse is during the annual Door County Maritime Museum’s Lighthouse Festival or by private boat. Although the lighthouse was not abandoned–Joel and Mary Ann Blahnik serve as its caretakers–today the structure is in need of significant restoration.
In the past two years or so, slow efforts have been made in salvaging the Chambers Island Lighthouse. The roof has been repaired, the iron railing secured. This summer, the foundation will be tuck-pointed. But it all takes money and man/women power. The idea of a “friends” group has been proposed. Under Tim Sweet’s leadership, that has worked very well at Pottawatomie Light and Plum and Pilot Islands. However, the most challenging issue remains: getting people to the lighthouse. Time will tell…miracles happen and dedication is often the key to success. It would be wonderful to add Chambers Island’s lighthouse to the list of accessible lighthouses.
Happenings at Heritage Village at Big Creek, Sturgeon Bay
If you’re interested in blacksmithing, be sure to join us for a blacksmith class. Our talented blacksmiths are offering an “Introduction into Blacksmithing” on Tuesday afternoons. The class is limited to 2 people and runs for 4 weeks. Call Trudy if you’re interested at 421-2332. Cost is only $100 for members, $150 for non-members.
Reminder: Building cleanup is 5/11 & 5/12 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Please call Mary Williams, volunteer coordinator, at 920-493-0620, if you are able to help for an hour or so.
On May 11th, 12th and June 4th we will also be accepting donations for the rummage sale so please clean out your closets and basements. Household items (not clothing or shoes unless from 1910 or before) can be dropped off on any of those days. If you have an item that you need us to pick up, please call Trudy at 920-421-2332 to arrange.
Then join us in the Vignes School on June 5th from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and June 6th from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. to see all the great items we’ve got for sale. If you stop on Saturday, June 6th you’ll get an added bonus as the Sustainability Fair will be on the grounds of the Heritage Village and Crossroads too. There will be demonstrations by the blacksmiths, Maddens will be working on the Hand Tool Museum and doing a logging demonstration, knitters with handmade items, other demonstrations and food for sale on the grounds so plan to be there for a little while. Some reserved parking will be available near the Vignes School if you want to just attend the rummage sale and overflow parking is across the road at Whitetails.
Opening day at the Village will be June 14th and at 2 p.m. Peninsula Symphonic Band will open our season with a rousing concert on the lawn. We have some folding chairs but feel free to bring your own lawn chair and join us.
In collaboration with WRITE ON Door County, we are starting a three-part writing series. The first session on June 21st focuses on learning how to get your thoughts down and preserving your memories. Since we’re landing on Father’s Day, the theme for that day will be “Your Father or Other Important Men in Your Life.” Come join us in the Collins Learning Center to learn how to capture those memories. The program will be free of charge but pre-registration will be required. A journal will be supplied to start your journey into capturing your memories through this writing series.
THOUGHTS FROM OUR EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR – Trudy Herbst
Another first! The Door County Historical Society has an office at 130 N. Fourth Street in Sturgeon Bay and will be open by the middle of May. The Society will be subleasing two offices (with windows) from DC Printing at a reasonable rate.
The cost of the lease and office establishment is gifted in part by Baylake Bank, DC Printing, Raibrook Foundation, Rotary Club of Sturgeon Bay Charitable Trust, Sturgeon Bay Noon Club Rotarians, Walmart, and member donations. I appreciate the help of Paul Dreutzer of ERA Starr Realty for his help in finding a new home for the Society.
Stop in to visit the office on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays (subject to offsite meeting schedules). The office will have a separate entrance (gas station side) and parking is available on the street, on the side of the building and behind the garage. If you are willing, I may find a volunteer project just for you (or see the following article for suggestions).
What a glorious weekend Door County just experienced! The summer schedule of programs at the Village appears to be no less spectacular. On Thursday evenings and Sunday afternoons, the program team created 33 different presentations and activities for your enjoyment. Just block out those times on your calendar, because these are programs you will not want to miss!
On Saturday, May 30 and Tuesday, June 2 from 9-12:30 the Society will hold mandatory training for volunteers and staff; you may pick a date that best meets your schedule. The morning session will include lunch and reservations are required. On Tuesday, June 2 from 12:30-3:00, we will hold breakout sessions for the Organizational Team and Heritage Village Team. (The Eagle Bluff Team has already held their breakout session.) If you are unable to attend the afternoon session
on Tuesday, a weekend or evening option is being planned.
The purposes of training are to empower volunteers and staff to do their best, increase support for the Society’s mission, form relationships with each other, create a sense of belonging, and increase your satisfaction with the tasks you have chosen. Orientation will serve to keep you up to date and it is a time for a review of information and expectations, along with some team-building, and most of all FUN!
How can I help? Just about everywhere…in the office (answering phones, computer input, mailings, etc.), maintenance (clean up days), painting, woodworking (looking for someone to build a coal box), blacksmiths, docents, tour guides, sewing costumes, General Store Keepers (store sales), events (Rummage Sale, English Country Tea, Root Beer Festival, etc.), administrative committee work (Personnel & Finance, Eagle Bluff Lighthouse, Heritage Village, Membership, Monthly Programs, Village Programs, Archives & Collection, Heritage Alliance, Marketing), and leadership on the Board of Directors. Commitments may be as little as once or twice each year, 3-hours twice/month, or 3-4 hours/week. We need YOU!
Current, prior year and volunteers who offered to help in the past month will receive a telephone call and mailed invitation that includes a volunteer application, a response form, and a return envelope. Or, if you found your niche in the list above or have another idea, please contact our VOLUNTEER, Volunteer Coordinator Mary Williams (920) 493-0620 or firstname.lastname@example.org and say, “I want to help preserve history.”
May 11-12, 9-4 Spring Cleaning at Heritage Village
Rummage Sale Drop-Off Dates
May 16 Eagle Bluff Lighthouse Opens
May 18, 4-5:30 Tour Waniger School, in front of Southern Door Schools
May 18, 6:00 Dinner Program Meeting at Marne’s (the old Coun’s C Club) in Brussels
May 19-June 11, 1-3 Blacksmith Classes – Tuesdays and Thursdays
May 21, 3:30 English Country Tea Committee Organizational Meeting
May 30, 9-12:30 Volunteer & Staff Orientation (choose one date)
June 2, 9-12:30 Volunteer & Staff Orientation (choose one date)
June 2, 12:30-3:00 Breakout Sessions for Administrative Roles & Heritage Village
June eve., Sat/Sun Breakout Sessions for Administrative Roles & Heritage Village
June 4, 9-4 Rummage Sale Drop-Off Date (last chance)
June 5, 9-4 Rummage Sale
June 6, 9-2 Rummage Sale & Sustainable Living Fair (10-4)
June 14, 2:00 Flag Raising & Opening of the Village
June 21, 2:00 Journaling: Your Father or Other Important Men in Your Life
June 28, 2:00 Lee Sommerville in the Heritage Garden (Herbs & other plants)
July 16, 6:30 Jerry Apps – “Stories of the Land: Farm Life from an Earlier Day”
HERITAGE VILLAGE WISH LIST
Warren & Schopf Log Homes
Two cotton sheets any size – to make ironing board covers
Old postcards with Door County scenes with postmarks or stamped
Home-canned food items in glass jars
Antique pin cushions
Greene General Store
Wooden Barrels – any size
Women’s long kid gloves
Wooden peg games – may be homemade
One pocket watch chain
Hat display form
Large hat pins
Small round back children’s chairs
Early 1900’s Moravian Hymn Book
Please contact Trudy Herbst 421-2332, Jerry & Nan Krause 746-0628 or Mary Gilbert 495-1109 if you have any of these items.
DINNER MEETINGS AND PRESENTERS
(New start time 6:00 p.m.)
June 22, 2015 History of Evergreen Nursery – Ron Amos
July 27, 2015 Getting to Know Bjorklunden – Mark Breseman
August 24, 2015 Everything you wanted to know about Blacksmithing – the Village Blacksmiths
September 28, 2015 Funeral Practices of the Past – Todd Huehns
October 26, 2015 Cheese Making – Renard’s
November 23, 2015 Lost and/or Forgotten Cemeteries of Door County – David Hirn