Hortense Overholzer featured in Shrine of the Pines history
BALDWIN — The rich history of Shrine of the Pines was told by several speakers connected with the museum last Wednesday, with special focus on Hortense Overholzer, wife of furniture artist Raymond Overholzer.
During a Lake County Historical Museum program, artifacts and pictures were shared, as well as a past, present and future overview of the Shrine of the Pines.
John Drake, president of Shrine of the Pines, gave an introduction of the speakers.
Amy Letterman, one of the museum managers, shared the story of Hortense Loretta Brown, a teacher who married one of her students, Raymond Overholzer, in Canada in 1912. She was 34 and he was 21. An avid fisherman, Raymond and his wife came to Baldwin in 1920 and built a hunting and fishing lodge.
Another speaker, Brenda Nelson, who managed the museum with her husband beginning in 2007-2008, shared the history after the Overholzers came to Baldwin.
“My family was eight generations in Idlewild, and I didn’t know about the Shrine of the Pines until I planted flowers and landscaped there with the garden club,” she said. “Mrs. Overholzer called the shrine a hunting lodge. She and Ray lived in Marlborough. He began creating pieces out of white pine stumps to mount taxidermy on, and that is how he started out with his furniture. Hortense would document each piece he created. She fell in love with the place. It was made for her. The Overholzers were true pioneers who lived off the land.”
People came from miles around to see the displays, and Hortense would entertain the guests, cook for them and give tours. She couldn’t get meals done, so she asked Raymond to help with tours, saying otherwise he could cook. He reluctantly began giving tours.
“Hortense was a wise, unselfish woman. She was loyal to her husband and continued tours after his death,” Nelson added.
Hortense donated the museum to Boysville after her death in 1956. By 1983, with much support from the community, the Shrine of the Pines was designated as a museum so people could see it again. It was managed by Roy Warner, who was so fond of the place, he called it his “church.”
“Some of the visitors that came when I was a manager were a mother and daughter from China, a trolley, buses, people from France, Channel 13 from Grand Rapids, bag pipers, veterans, Red Hat Ladies, school kids, Mennonites and Amish. One Amish man visited 27 times. We had powwows there, weddings, you name it. We’re open for everyone,” Nelson said.
“Dee and Harry Carr were managers before us and Dee began transcribing Hortense’s journal. My daughter and I took the project over. She wrote in pencil, and wrote sideways and in the margins at different times,” she added.
Terry Bramer, past president, said the transcribed journal is now available for sale, which Mrs. Kyles and Carissa Reidel have completed. He discussed future plans for the museum, including building a pavilion so people can gather and picnic in a weather-proof area.
Trees engraved above the fireplace in the museum are also starting to fade, so Shrine of the Pines board members would like to see it restored. Some logs around the fire place also are showing signs of infestation.
“We want the building to be here another 100-plus years,” Bramer said.
Many historical items were discovered in the archives, such as a small pocket watch Raymond owned. The board members would like a display area for these.
“We would like to get a plaque to recognize it as a historic site, which was approved in 1985,” Bramer added. “We just purchased property from the land bank of their home and will work to recognize that site as well.”