January 2013

We're happy to report that the mansard tower roof has been completely restored and the entire Bonine House has been re-roofed thanks to a generous donation by Mary Anne Bonine in honor of her late husband, Alan.

Plastering Completed at the Bonine House

With the re-roof of the entire house, it was time to repair the extensive water damage found in every room and Joe Evans of Cassopolis was waiting for the call.  Joe is a master plasterer; been doing it since he was 17--and he'll be 85 in September.  He originally plastered the Bonine House when Tom Crosslin was restoring it in the late 90's.

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Bonine House Restoration


Mike Moroz, president of URSCC, in front of the Bonine House doors that he stripped and refinished in Fall 2013.

But the shingles blew off and the rain came in and the critters crawled in, and the house needed Joe's deft touch.  Joe arrived every morning at 7:30 and worked until 4:30 with no breaks, not even for lunch, for six weeks.  He started at the top of the tower and worked his way down, carrying bags of materials, buckets of water and his heavy plastering equipment.
He patched huge holes in the ceilings of many rooms and in the hallway upstairs and downstairs.  And hundreds of major and minor cracks throughout the house.  He plastered the new wall and created a new ceiling in the sw parlor.  He repaired the medallion in the dining room. All done with a confidence born of years of experience; and a good humor that is infectious.. He told stories of working in Chicago and South Bend, and how different and good it was​ ​to live and work in Cass County.  Everyone says it's really difficult to find any plasterer, let alone one with such a masterful touch.  We're very lucky that Joe Evans heard the call. Joe is also a cartoonist, his signature art can be seen on the tower landing.​

While the plastering was being restored on the living room ceiling, this beautiful stencil design was discovered surrounding the entire room. The top photo shows what one corner of the ceiling is like now. The lower photo is a digitally enhanced version done by increasing the saturation (brightness) of the colors and copying the intact portions of the design.  I cannot be certain of the exact colors but this gives an impression of what the stencil art might be like when we are able to get an artist to restore the design. 

Lin Pollard


The Bonine House

Underground Railroad Society

of Cass County, Michigan