Preserving the Wilkinson house one geranium at a time

Posted on February 12, 2014


Loraine Mottern is at it again.  Every year about this time she distributes the annual geranium order form.  She posts it in store windows and on the community bulletin boards at the Eastport Post Office and the Eastport Market.  She sends persuasive press releases to all the newspapers.  It has crossed my mind that if Loraine’s determination could be bottled and marketed . . .  but I digress.

The geranium sale is a benefit for the Wilkinson Homestead Historical Society.

I joined the Society when I first came here to live.  We are a quirky group, going in twelve directions at once, fixing up a nice old frame house in the village of Eastport because that’s the sort of thing we like to do.  One Sunday afternoon I was doing my volunteer docent bit to support the cause when a visitor came by and gazed at the parlor. “Isn’t it amazing,” she asked, “that this was considered an elegant house back then?”

“Well,” I told her, “actually it was just an ordinary house lived in by an ordinary family.”

“Well then what historical significance does it have?” she wanted to know.

I suppose she wanted to hear that some famous person slept in the front bedroom or that some dramatic incident occurred in the kitchen. Nope. Not so far as I know anyway. But here’s the thing. It was lived in for a good long time by Ray Wilkinson and his wife Hattie Cross Blakely Wilkinson, and between them they were connected to pretty much everything Around Here between 1880 and 1960.

I wrote a very interesting post, with pictures, about Ray and Hattie back in 2012 (Tenacity, endurance and a 150 mile bike ride).  I am not going to repeat myself.  I do, however, have another photo to add. Note the sign: “Lake cottages for rent.”

Wilkinson House - Lake Cottages for Rent

Back in the 1920s Ray and Hattie recorded a plat along the northeast shore of Torch Lake where they proposed to build rental cottages for the growing summer trade.  I haven’t figured out whether they ever succeeded with their development, but Ray was definitely in the resort business one way or another.  I will have a good time sorting it all out.  Stay tuned.

And please buy some geraniums.  Your form is below.  If you click on the image you will get a nice big picture of it, which you can use to order your very own planter or individual pots.  Think of it – there will be a spring.  There will be flowers.  And there will be a Wilkinson house.

WHHS Geranium Planter Order