By MARY HURSH
The Syacuse-Wawasee Historical Museum will host its first summer Centennial Homes presentation at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, July 28 in Celebration Hall at the Syracuse Community Center. Ann Garceau, board member, is coordinating the event.
Cottage owners on Morrison Island will narrate a short history of their homes. John Dillinger, the Parkway, Orlando Kimmel, box car siding, ice houses and flowing wells will also be highlighted.
Meyer Maidenberg published a short history of Morrison Island in 1979. His booklet included aerial views of the island, pictures of the first residence on the island, as well as pictures of many of the original cottages. He shared many fascinating insights into island life through this publication. Readers learn that in the early days, there was only one mailbox at the end of the island for all residents. From 1921-23, the oval was the site of a circus put on every summer by locals. An ice house built on the channel provided ice for island residents.
Morrison Island is near the southeast end of Lake Wawasee. It is approached via a bridge not far from Griffith’s Wawasee Marina. Originally, the island was heavily wooded and called “Eagle Island” because bald eagles nested there annually.
William T. Morrison and his family came to Syracuse at the end of the Civil War. He was a teacher in Syracuse for many years. He squatted on Nine Mile Lake (Wawasee) and built a cabin there (Morrison Island).
Morrison lived on the island for 30 years. Tax title deeds from 1881-90 show Morrison as the owner of the land. In 1903, Morrison and his wife conveyed 20 acres, all of Morrison Island, to Milton Moore, Elwood George and Charles Schlabach for a consideration of $2,435. Today, million-dollar homes dot the island.
In 1907, Nathaniel Crow, Moore, Schlabach and George entered into a contract for the dedication of the public road leading to Morrison Island.
In 1939, a petition was filed in the Commissioner’s Court by Harry Bunger and other property owners to locate a new highway and to vacate Grand Boulevard in the Plat of Morrison Island. The new highway followed the inside line of the existing highway and was 33 feet wide as is the present highway on Morrison Island.
Admission to the centennial homes presentation is free. The next presentation will be at 10:30 a.m. Aug. 18. South Shore centennial homes will be featured, including the William Cast Cottage.