If you drove by the Bonine House Thursday evening Sept. 22, it's a good bet that you stopped in your tracks. Candles in the windows from bottom to top, pots and pots of colorful mums at the doors which were wide open, giving a view of the curving stairway. The living room crowded with people eating, drinking and enjoying this beautiful, iconic home. The Bonine House was alive with laughter and friendship once again thanks to some local women who decided to throw a party, invite their friends and give all the proceeds to the Bonine House Restoration Project.
Underground Railroad Society
of Cass County, Michigan
Paul Rutherford and Jack Ruple helped with set up. Committee members brought in trays of food including cheese and fruit donated by Mark Dussel, Tyler Stutesman and Terry Hertsel. Christian Lutes donated wine that flowed freely, with Butch Haggin as attentive server. Judy and Brenda greeted friends as they came through the teardrop doors and took their donations and pledges. Kathy and Glenyce invited guests to tour the house all the way to the top of the tower.
A powerful poem titled "The Fugitive Slave" written by Lois Cross-Hart was read by Carolyn Kelly, and officers of the Underground Railroad Society of Cass County (URSCC) were there to meet their donors.
Phase one of the restoration of the Bonine House is underway. The southwest corner of the home will be taken down and rebuilt, an intricate and costly undertaking. Tom Nehil, structural engineer, and Blair Bates, president of Building Restoration, Inc. were on hand to explain the details of the project..
URSCC showed a powerpoint created by newly elected board member Lin Pollard, on the history of the Bonine House and URSCC, as well as a summary of activities since purchasing the house and Carriage House in December of 2010. Cathy LaPointe, URSCC treasurer, presented a vision of lovely weddings, and other special events held downstairs; with rooms upstairs dedicated to the story of the Underground Railroad in Cass County and the communities involved. Mike Moroz, president of the organization, spoke of the legacy of freedom the Bonine House represents and what a loss it would be to this community and to the world if the Bonine House and Carriage House were to disappear. Cathy and Mike presented URSCC secretary Nancy Neff, with a framed thank you for her service to the organization and her love of the Bonine House.
Kathy Ruple suggested in her talk that others might want to have a party for the Bonine House and invite their friends, and that can easily be arranged. Call URSCC at 269-445-7358 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for further information. Donations to the Bonine House Restoration Project can be made to URSCC by mail to P.O. Box 124 Vandalia, MI 49095 or on line at urscc.org
Kathy Ruple wanted to do a fundraiser for the Bonine House and her husband Jack said 'well, why not have it at the house'? So she did.
Kathy is passionate about many things and among them is'staging' homes for events and for sale. She immediately saw the house with linens, silver, candles, ferns and flowers--and filled with period pieces. She called on her friends Judy Rutherford, Brenda Bergemann, Glenyce Haggin, Linda Stone and Dorothy Mickey and together they created a lovely home and a memorable party. Antique cradle and baby doll, spinning wheel, girls sweet dresses, a Cass County history book, a candle 'fire' in the fireplace. The house overflowed with beautiful artifacts in every room; and one of Roger Pecina's wonderful old cars adorned the front yard.
Local supporters got the ball rolling at athe Bonine House by throwing a cocktail party a few months after URSCC purchased it. Judy and Paul Rutherford, Brenda Bergerman, Glenyce and Butch Hagin, Dorothy and Dick Micky and Kathy and Jack Ruple decorated the downstairs, brought in wonderful appetizers, invited their friends and threw a great party. URSCC showed a powerpoint and Building Restoration was there to talk about the fix for the southwest corner of the house. The house was glowing and alive for the first time in ten years.
The Bonine House all dressed up for the evening, with "Lucky"
the Bonine House lion surveying the scene.