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.  616-682-0785 

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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