2018-06-28 / Columns

Omena residents enjoy plaque-worthy weekend

By LESLIE DISCH
Phone/fax 386-5686


KEITH DISSELKOEN, president of the Omena Historical Society, speaks at the dedication of the plaque honoring Larry and Joey Bensley. They were part of the group that it made it possible for the Putnam Cloud Tower House to be moved to its present location in downtown Omena, and worked tirelessly for years to restore the building. Larry died in November, 2016. Photo: David Lightner KEITH DISSELKOEN, president of the Omena Historical Society, speaks at the dedication of the plaque honoring Larry and Joey Bensley. They were part of the group that it made it possible for the Putnam Cloud Tower House to be moved to its present location in downtown Omena, and worked tirelessly for years to restore the building. Larry died in November, 2016. Photo: David Lightner It turned out to be a beautiful afternoon for the Omena Historical Society (OHS) open house Sunday. The new exhibit of old postcards from Omena is fascinating. Everyone seemed to agree that the messages on the back were often as interesting as the pictures on the front. It definitely takes you back in time. Many thanks to Sally Shapiro who was in charge of the open house, and to Mary Ziegeler, Meg Wilkes, Kathy Miller, and Nancy Enyart who all helped set up. And thanks to everyone who brought the delicious refreshments.

Two significant dedications were made by OHS president Keith Disselkoen. In front of the OHS Museum, a plaque was dedicated to Larry and Joey Bensley in recognition of all of the work that they did in restoring the Putnam Cloud Tower House after it was moved from its original location on what is now the Villa Marquette. In the fall of 2003, Mary Hallett Stanton learned that the Tower House was going to be demolished. Over the years, it had fallen into disrepair. Mary approached the Omena Historical Society (OHS) with the idea of OHS saving and relocating the structure. The Jesuits agreed to donate the building and made a contribution to help with the cost of the move. A committee consisting of Mary Stanton, Marsha Centner Buehler, David and Sally Viskochil, Jim Centner, Joey Bensley, who was then president of OHS, and then County Commissioner Mary Tonneberger began the task of researching how to move a house of this size. After several months of searching for a permanent site for the house, an agreement was reached with the Omena Village Preservation Association (OVPA) to lease a portion of their property in downtown Omena. Therefore, the move was canceled and rescheduled for June 24, 2004. A large crowd turned out to watch the move. Over the following years, Larry and Joey put in countless hours restoring the building. Joey accepted the honor, saying how much it would have meant to Larry, who died in 2016.


SALLY VISKOCHIL, left, and Marsha Buehler stand by the new plaque indicating that Omena, from Sunset Lodge to Cherry Basket Orchard, is a National Historic District. Marsha worked for several years to accomplish this recognition. SALLY VISKOCHIL, left, and Marsha Buehler stand by the new plaque indicating that Omena, from Sunset Lodge to Cherry Basket Orchard, is a National Historic District. Marsha worked for several years to accomplish this recognition. ***

In between the OHS Museum and the Tamarack Gallery, a plaque was just installed recognizing a large section of the Omena business district and beyond as the Omena Historic District, listed in the National Register of Historic Places by the U. S. Department of the Interior in 2017. The plaque contains a wonderful, succinct history of Omena. Marsha Buehler was instrumental in obtaining the designation of Historic District for Omena, and worked for several years on the project. The District goes from Sunset Lodge, through town, to and including the Cherry Basket Orchard. Each building within the District received a bronze plaque that it can display. Stop by and read the plaque, enjoy the businesses in Omena, and visit the OHS Museum. In front of the Museum, volunteers have created a heritage garden with plants that are typical of those in the mid-1800s. This year, herbs were added to the garden. The volunteers, who have been dubbed the “Garden Ghosts”, are Lynn Sutton, Doni Lystra, Kris Mampe, and Linda Kemper.

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OHS has a very special series of summer lectures. It is a three-part series titled “Pre- and Post-Euro Anishnaabe Talks.” The presenter is JoAnne Cook, a member of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, who is a lawyer, former Tribal Council member, and currently teaches about Anishnaabe culture at northwestern Michigan College. The three lectures are July 10, July 17 and August 7 from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at the Omena Presbyterian Church. Gayle Madison has organized this.

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There is a very special opportunity coming up to have tea with both Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. They will be in this area to help raise money and awareness for the One Fair Wage project, sponsored by the Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC). The tea is Saturday, July 28 from noon to 2 p.m. Omena resident Florine Mark is helping to organize and promote the event. For questions about the event, you can email Harvir Kaur at harvir@rocunited.org.

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On Saturday, July 14, from 4 to 6 p.m. at Saving Birds Thru Habitat, there will be a Celebration of Life in memory of Jim Charter, co-founder of Charter Sanctuary and Saving Birds. There will be food and wine, photos of his life and time to share stories and memories.

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The Omena Presbyterian Church’s Patriotic Service is Sunday. Rev. Bob Hagel from the First Presbyterian of Jamestown in New York will be preaching and Patrick Kuhl will be at the organ. Patrick has been playing in Omena for many years and he will be back behind the organ for the next eight weeks! Mary Robertson and her daughter Alyssa will provide the music. Everyone is invited to attend service from 10 - 11 a.m.

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Happy Birthday to Annette Husted, Dana Colling, and to Chuck Dickerson, whose birthday is on the 4th of July. Happy Anniversary to Jim and Kathy Browning, Rick and Trish Bryan, and Rink and Karon Smith.

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Happy Birthday to our country. Don’t miss the reading of the Declaration of Independence which will take place at 10 a.m. on the Fourth outside of every post office in Leelanau County.

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