Tower Farm renovations

Tower Farm renovations to complete Fallasburg village street look

By Emma Palova

Fallasburg, MI – The Tower Farm in the historic Fallasburg village will be renovated following the approval by the Fallasburg Historical Society (FHS) this week for approximately $75,000.

The 1850s historical building has deteriorated over the years, but has been patched up with a few fixes funded by grants from the Lowell Cable Television Fund and the Lowell Area Community Fund.

These included a new roof on the Tower Farm and new windows along with other exterior jobs such as the removal of asphalt shingles from the siding and repairs to the siding.

The ongoing restoration of the Orlin Douglass/Tower Farm has been in progress since 2010/2011.

The Orlin Douglass/Tower Farm was built by Douglass in 1850.  It was later acquired by the Towers. In 1896, the right half of the farmhouse was moved from a nearby location so that sister-in-law’s, Tower and Steketee, could live together with their families. 

One of the FHS board members Addie Abel lived in the Tower Farm until 1959. The Towers grew watermelons on the farm and sold them in Lowell.

“I was a Tower,” she laughed, “my connection to the house is that it was my home. I love that place.”

Abel said she doesn’t mind the proposed renovations.

“It belongs to the FHS, I would live there in a heart beat,” she said.

However, as the interior deteriorated, the FHS sought of ways to fix it up.

“Initial financing was all grant-based,” said FHS president Ken Tamke. “Over the years some other minor exterior fixes have taken place. This was the result of volunteer labor and not necessitating large outlays of the society’s funds.”

As with any historical building, the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) sets forth guidelines for preservation. According to these guidelines, the façade of a National and State Historic Property cannot be changed.

The concrete block covered the entry on the farm was removed, but it was not part of the original home. The roof had broken through and the concrete blocks had settled impeding closure and security of the entry doors.

The society is proposing to put back a second porch modeled after the original porch on the dwelling.

“We will contact the SHPO with any plans,” said Tamke. “Should it compromise any historic designations, it will not be built.”

The Tower Farm, which consists of two units, is zoned as single residential and a home-based business. As such, the FHS will rent out the single residential portion and retain the home-based business part for its own use as office space.

The use of the community garden on the four-acre property is currently being negotiated.

“We are still in negotiations on the volunteers for the garden and what will be produced on it,” said vice-president Tina Cadwallader.

The Tower Farm is the last building to be rehabilitated in the picturesque village on the banks of the Flat River. During the last two years, the Fallas House needed repairs due to major damage from pipes breaking over a winter. The bathroom, kitchen, and damaged walls were redone. A new roof was put on along with a total paint job. The Blackmer House and Betsy Fallas houses have all been rehabbed, the barn was redone and that left only the Tower House. This will be the last one on the Covered Bridge Rd. leading to the Covered Bridge, except for the rundown cottage by the bridge. The Misner House and the School House had been finished long time ago.

“The entire village street will look great with well-kept homes,” said FHS treasurer Al Rumbaugh.

The FHS expects to accomplish the final renovation project through volunteer labor and FHS’ financial resources with the future promise of rents to replenish reserves and charitable donations.

The main contractor for the project is Choice Contractors, Rosendall Well Drilling will be doing the well, Jack Mellema is the stone mason and Arctic Air will be doing the heating.

The FHS board will hold the annual board meeting on June 15 at 4 p.m. at the Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce. The public is invited to provide input.

Feature photo: project coordinator/FHS treasurer Al Rumbaugh in front of the Tower Farm.

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Sprucing up Fallasburg

Volunteer opportunities

The Fallasburg Historical Society (FHS) is looking for volunteers to spruce up the historic pioneer village of Fallasburg.

The FHS has several maintenance projects in Fallasburg Village this summer.  We’re looking for volunteers!

  • Rehabilitation of the Tower Farmhouse.  We’ll need help from skilled tradespeople, carpenters, electricians, plumbers, and help with general labor.
  • Preparation and painting the exterior of the Fallasburg Schoolhouse and metal roof.
  • Preparation and painting the exterior of the Misner House Museum/FHS offices.
  • Landscaping, tree trimming and cleanup of FHS properties including Vergennes Township’s Fallasburg Cemetery.

If you like to join FHS in our preservation efforts of historic Fallasburg Village we’d love to have you.  Work dates and times are flexible.  Materials will be provided.  Contact Ken Tamke for info.  kentamke@comcast.net  616-682-0785  www.fallasburg.org 

Join us for the FHS annual meeting on June 15 from 4 p.m. at the Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce.

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History is a fickle thing

The real stories hide behind the things that never happened, such as the Spring into the Past Museum tour 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is a letter from Sally Johnson, president of the TriRiverHistoricalMuseum Network, (TRHMN) organizer of Spring into the Past tour.

History is a fickle thing.  It doesn’t always follow the path that you think it will.  So goes it in this year of 2020. 

This is a historic event – this year of 2020 – and we are all trying our best to adjust to the trials and tribulations that we are faced with.  Some of us have been able to manage and other find it a difficult time.  It is not easy but it is a small price to pay to keep us all safe and healthy.  I hope we are all doing our best to protect each other and to help our small businesses in a safe way.  We are a strong people and we will come through this as we all work together.  Thank you to all those doctors, nurses, first responders, and everyone else who is putting their lives out there to make sure we are able to get the foods, health needs, and other things that we need and have probably taken for granted over the years.  I find a new appreciation for all these fellow Americans.  God bless them all.

We all thought we would be looking forward to our usual events and daily life as was the norm.  But  a road block was thrown up and everything  was brought to a halt.

This was the weekend we would be holding our annual “Spring Into the Past” event and we would all be looking forward to welcoming visitors to our museums.  Our displays for celebrating the right of women to vote would have been in place. Other celebrations connected to this historic event were planned.  Now with our museums still closed and the social  distancing that is required these things are not happening and others are playing the waiting game.  We will not let this deter us from moving forward (not for this year) but to looking ahead with a positive attitude and 2021. 

I keep hoping that we might be able to meet later this year but as it is we will have to be patient and see what the future weeks bring.  In the meantime, please stay safe and healthy.  Follow the rules that have been put before us and help us combat this vicious virus that is attacking us.

I sincerely hope you are all doing well.  We are keeping our thoughts positive and minds and bodies busy.  We find lots of things to do to pass the time indoors and out. 

We miss seeing all our friends from TRHMN.

Sally and Dick Johnson

Featured photo: a hat display at the Bowne Township Museum during one of the Spring into the Past Museum tours.

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FHS salutes our heroes

Yellow ribbons and painted hearts at Fallasburg

During the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Fallasburg Historical Society (FHS) would like to express deepest gratitude to all the health care workers, first responders and to all our essential workers, who keep us well, fed and alive.

To salute you, we tied yellow ribbons around the historical buildings at the Fallasburg pioneer village and painted some hearts.

When the state shutdown is lifted, we sincerely invite you for a visit and a step back in time to this oasis of peace on the banks of the Flat River. Just cross the Covered Bridge and immerse yourself in history.

You can explore online the FHS artifacts on the premier Collective Access platform on https://collection.fallasburg.org/

Visit Fallasburg online at http://fallasburg.org

Featured photo: The John W. Fallass House

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Happy Easter from Fallasburg

We would like to wish everyone a very happy Easter.

These are our latest news from the Fallasburg Historical Society.

We now have a new roof on the Misner House thanks to a grant from the Lowell Area Community Fund. The contractors for the project were Risner Roofing.

Misner House at the Fallasburg pioneer village.

Whites Bridge replica 2020

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Museum collaboration

FHS intern adds 250 artifacts to the Collective Access platform

By Emma Palova

LOWELL, MI – Sorting through hundreds of pictures intern Darcy Stubbs, a Calvin College student, found some real treasures among the Fallasburg Historical Society artifacts.

The discoveries included two bibles: John W. Fallass bible and a bible with metal clasps given as wedding gift to Charles Beckwith.

The Bible gifted to Charles Beckwith.

“I got to know Fallasburg through the Millers’ chronicles of pictures,” Stubbs said.

“That was a great introduction.”

Coming from Homer, Stubbs picked Fallasburg from a network of internships available for its small-town feel. Her main task was data entry.

The goal of the internship was two-fold: to organize and computerize Fallasburg artifacts and to get exposure to museum work.

“It was a great partnership for getting that accomplished,” said Lisa Plank, director of Lowell Area Historical Museum.

During her internship, Stubbs added 250 pictures to the Fallasburg collection of artifacts- the Collective Access platform.

The pictures are all donations from Elaine Miller Duggan.

And it’s all about appreciating the value of history in places like Fallasburg through the various artifacts.

Some of the work was tedious like sorting through 10 postcards to change the narrative to the Covered Bridge.

“I am grateful because the younger generation is proficient to do this,” Ken Tamke, FHS president, said. “Darcy has been the most well-rounded intern we’ve landed.”

Stubbs also did research for the post office interpretive sign in Lowell for the Lowell Area Historical Museum.

She enjoyed the small-town perspective and making the artifacts accessible to the public.

“Just because the towns are smaller, their history is not less important,” Stubbs said.

Plank said it was a great collaborative project for all the organizations.

Stubbs, a former Navy supervisor and technician, participated in an archeology expedition in Jordan at Umm al-Jimal in June 2019. At the West Church, she enjoyed finding out about the meaning of different layers of floor under the mosaic.

Featured photo: Darcy Stubbs and Ken Tamke.

Explore Fallasburg artifacts on the

Collective Access (CA) platform at https://collection.fallasburg.org/

Following is an entry from CA with information about the Bible given to Beckwith. You can search by objects or identifier no:

BIBLE

OBJECT


IDENTIFIER

2017.001.0087

DESCRIPTION

This leather-bound family bible is embellished with embossed sacred images on the front cover, back cover, and binding, which are painted with gold paint. Especially ornate is the intricately detailed ‘Holy Bible’ title also embossed on the front cover, back cover, and binding. The Bible also has two metal clasps. This Bible is a “The Household Edition” family bible that contains the Old and New Testaments, the Apocrypha, Concordance, Psalms in Metre, Marginal References and Readings, and Fine Foil-Page Engravings, and more. A family Bible given at the wedding of Edmund Alger and Fannie Beckwith. Written in the front cover is “John 3:16”. Note attached says it was given by Edith (Willard) Mueller (her mother lived in the Fallas house), belonged to Mrs. Henry (Mary)Booth (Edith’s grandmother). A separate note says it was found by Theron Richmond in the attic of his former family home, now the Rocking R Ranch. Given in memory of Theron and Ruth Richmond by their children Shirley Smith, Tom Richmond, Barb and Dick Curtis. William Gardner lived in Rocking Ranch house which was his family home. Brother Sidney Gardner was married to Catherine Beckwith. A sticky note poses the question: “How did the Bible get from the Alger house (corner of Burroughs and Lincoln Lake) to the attic of the Rocking R house (near Simyrund (sp?)?Read More

MATERIALS

Paper, Leather, Ink

ORIGIN DATE

January 1 1886

ORIGIN PLACE

Chicago, Ill.

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