Gifts fund gazebo, ramp, and perennial gardens
September 1, 2016
By Katherine Keller
Have you noticed the graceful new gazebo at the east end of the Beulah Brinton House lot? If you have and walked across the lawn to take a look at it, you would also likely have stopped to admire the flowering perennials and noted the handsome new accessibility ramp at the back of the house.
Each of these amenities was funded by memorial gifts to the Bay View Historical Society. The society owns the historic Brinton home that serves as its headquarters. “The board decided it would be nice to have a gazebo a couple of years ago,” said the society’s vice president Anne Maedke. But they would have to wait until they had the means to pay for it.
“The contributions from the Doyle family made it possible,” said Susan Ballje, BVHS’s past president.
Bill Doyle, a life-long Bay View resident and one of its most ardent champions, died in 2014. “When the board decided to designate the gift given in his memory for the gazebo, said Ballje, “we met with (Bill’s wife) Jan to tell her what we wished to do with their gift. She was delighted with the proposal and when she learned their bequest didn’t cover the full cost of the project, she personally met that difference with another donation.”
“The gazebo was a kit,” Maedke said. “The ramp and the gazebo are made of the same material, engineered wood. The wood is low maintenance and has a long lifespan.”
Bay View resident and small business owner Thor Yaquish, a carpenter, handyman, and independent contractor, constructed the gazebo.
It will be used for weddings, live music, and other society “showpiece events” that would include speakers.
Ballje said the gazebo was completed just in time for a wedding party to use it to serve a buffet.
A grant from the William Stark Jones Foundation paid for the first phase of “Grandma’s Garden” on the north side of the house.
Grandma’s Garden refers to the perennial gardens planted around the perimeter of the house. The name references one of the social programs Beulah Brinton hosted in her home that she named Grandma’s Club.
Its members served women in Bay View who were providing care for their grandchildren. They also collected and exchanged seeds. Some of the seed came from their personal gardens or neighbors’, but seed was also collected when they or family members traveled to other parts of the country, Ballje said.
Heritage Landscaping gifted the society with a landscape plan for the garden. Plants were selected that would have been common in a Milwaukee garden in the Civil War Era and that Beulah Brinton may have planted around her home.
Beulah and Warren Brinton built the house in 1872 and 1873. It is not known when the couple moved to Bay View from Michigan, but historians speculate that it was around 1870. Warren worked at the Milwaukee Iron Company. Beulah dedicated herself to the social welfare of her community, serving many of the immigrant families who moved to Bay View to work at the iron mill. Much of her service was provided within the Brinton’s home.
Jennifer Goetzinger revised Heritage’s landscaping plan and gathered plants and cuttings which were given to BVHS.
A gift in memory of Paul Kohlbeck funded the purchase and installation of more plants. Kohlbeck and Audrey Quinsey cofounded the historical society. Quinsey and her husband were former owners of the Brinton home. Kohlbeck once served as the society’s president.
A ramp was added to the back of the house to enhance accessibility. “The ramp was a suggestion from community members and strongly supported by Alderman Tony Zielinski, Ballje said. “Several groups had been meeting at the house and [some individuals] encountered challenges without a ramp access. Tony brought many significant people together to help with design and fundraising to cover the cost. Since the ramp was installed, there has been more demand to rent the Beulah Brinton house.” The house serves as a venue for classes, private parties, weddings, bridal showers, and for neighborhood and community meetings. It was completed in May.
Wendy Cooper donated a small antique wagon in memory of her mother Brigitte Cooper, who volunteered for the historical society for 25 years. The wagon came from Germany where Wendy purchased it in 2001. It retains a name plate that indicates it was made by a Baden-Wüttermburg firm called Heinrich Hammer. Cooper found a 1910 ad for the firm that includes an illustration of a child with the same style wagon that’s referred to as a He-Ha Wagen. Cooper said that when she learned the society was going to name its herb garden in honor of her mother, who was born in Germany, she decided to donate the wagon. It resides in the garden named after her mother.
Ballje also noted that a new bench was recently placed under the big pines at the back of the lot. It was given in memory of Florence Bethke, a society member who loved the yard at Beulah Brinton House.
“We’re looking a lot better and there’s more to come,” Ballje said.
A dedication and celebration will take place at the gazebo Monday, Oct. 3 at 5:30pm. The event is open to the public.
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