05-09-2019 Ellinee sign party makes history – again; Community of Hartford repeats  Blossomti

THE PAST IS PRESENT… Ellinee Woodward and Bonnie Kuehl, the granddaughters of Ernest and Hildegard Erickson, owners of the Ellinee, stand beneath the repaired Ellinee marquee that once held a spot of honor at their grandparents’ resort. (TCR photo by Kristy Noack)

TOP FLOAT AWARD… Miss Hartford Brynn Duffy and Mr. Hartford Xavier Salinas served as the hosts of the Hartford Community float at the Blossomtime Parade that once again was named the Sweepstakes Award winner. The theme, As Big as Kansas, As Big as Oz, won the award for outstanding float concept and artistic merit of theme, creativity, color, animation, beauty, and floral display. The community of Hartford has won the coveted award four out of the last five years. Other royalty included Little Miss Hartford Lilly Johnsen and her first runner-up Kennedy Deckard; Little Mr. Hartford Javier Frias and his first runner-up Carter Moore; Miss Teen Hartford Raven Ledesma and her first runner-up Jersey Baker; Miss Junior Teen Hartford Cessie Finley and her first runner-up Zoe Prillwitz; Mr. Hartford’s Mr. Nice Guy Noah Wade, 1st Runner-up Alexander Lehnert, and 2nd Runner-up Evan Parker; Miss Hartford’s 1st Runner-up Mikinzie Chambers, 2nd Runner-up Piper Reinhardt, and Miss Congeniality Cecilia Peralies. (TCR photo by Annette Christie)

Ellinee sign party makes history – again

By Kristy Noack History came alive again recently as the outdoor sign that heralded the location of the Ellinee, a Paw Paw Lake resort landmark named after Ernest and his wife Hildegard (nee Lundberg) Erickson, was lit up after spending decades in the dark. The Ellinee sign was donated to the North Berrien Historical Museum (NBHM) by Ellinee Woodward and Bonnie Kuehl, granddaughters of Ellinee proprietor Erickson. Erickson was originally from Chicago and traveled to Paw Paw Lake before building the resort in 1908 with his wife Hildegard. In 1913, the landmark was considered “The Social Center of Paw Paw Lake” and boasted “a large assortment and fine line of latest souvenirs, post cards, stationery, fishing tackle, the best velvet ice cream and soda water, candy, cigars, tobacco, and fancy groceries,” according to an August 8, 1913 article in the Coloma Courier. The social center also had “box ball alley” (bowling alleys) and a billiards lounge. By 1925, Erickson had constructed the Midwest Art School and added “a new pier 100 feet long” to the lake area. He also “dragged the bottom of the lake to provide a good bathing beach” at the resort. Erickson, according to the June 12, 1925 article, planned to erect new boathouses as well. In 1926, Greyhound began an hourly bus service between the resort and Coloma, running every hour from 7:00 a.m. until 10:30 p.m. Paw Paw Lake’s resort area continued to see its popularity increase, as new hotels and dance halls were added. In the 1930s, Erickson constructed the tower and created an 18-hole miniature golf course at the site. The Ellinee tavern received a makeover in 1941 after the dance floor was enlarged and a new stage was added, specifically for the orchestra. Additionally, Erickson oversaw improvements at the bowling alley which included more seating for spectators.

A TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE… Seeing the Ellinee sign operational once again brought joy to three former employees of the Ellinee resort. Marge Schaefer Baes (left) manned the souvenir stand, while Ron Clark (center) set pins at the bowling alley, and Sharron Van Ryswyk Krueger worked the soda fountain counter. All three enjoyed seeing the Ellinee sign take center stage