By Martha Stoelting
The second in the Centennial Homes Series for 2019 featured the Leeland Addition adjacent to Lake Wawasee. In its fourth year, the series is sponsored by the Syracuse-Wawasee Historical Museum. This round was a bit different as one home and one family were highlighted.
In presenting the awards Ann Vanderford Garceau, museum board member and event organizer noted, “Last year we gave out our first notable family award and this year we are giving another as well as recognizing the original farmhouse from the 55 acres of land including where the Leeland Addition is now. Awards went to Castell for the Mellinger family’s contributions to the area and to David Ellsworth for his farmhouse on North 800E, which now sits on a Leeland Additon channel.
Diana Lung Castell explored not only the ancient history of the land dating back to the Miami and Pottawatomie tribes but had the original abstract tracing the owners to her great-grandmother and grandfather. They bought the property sight unseen while living in Chicago and it took several years for any family members to settle in the area. Eventually the Mellinger family ended up in Vawter Park, building a home that was also a rooming house. They rented out cottages and the Leeland Addition farmhouse as well.
Castell’s grandfather was involved in the construction of WACO Dance Hall Pavilion, South Shore Golf Club and a basement room in the Honeywell home. That room was dismantled and reconstructed when the Honeywell cottage was torn down. It is now on display in the Honeywell Center, Wabash.
Castell’s parents and her aunt and uncle developed Leeland Addition in the 1950s from the original property her great-grandparents purchased minus 20 acres. Those had been sold to someone else and became the Hess Addition. The name comes from her great-grandmother’s maiden name, Lee.
Initially, the families planted and sold Christmas trees to finance the first channel and roads. As lots sold, channels were added. The final area developed was the deep lots along North 800E. She also spoke of the Wawasee Fish Hatchery. Her father was its superintendent.
Ellsworth spoke of trying to find something at Wawasee that reminded him and his late wife, Lois, of the cottages they were used to on Michigan lakes. Coming by boat, they saw the farmhouse at the end of the channel and learned it had gone on the market the day before. It is believed to have been built in the late 1800s. Purchasing it, they did some remodeling and then after a few years made a significant addition to the rear of the property while trying to maintain its historical roots.
The next presentations by the Syracuse-Wawasee Historical Museum will be in conjunction with Chautauqua-Wawasee. The three events are called Northeastern Indiana Historical Native American Series. It will be held three days in a row, 6:30 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 5, and Friday, Sept. 6, and 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 7, Syracuse Community Center, 1013 N. Long Drive.
Discussed will be “Algonquin Inhabitants of Indiana’s Forests,” on Sept. 5. “Prehistory of Northeast Indiana and the Midwest” is Sept. 6 topic” , Sept. 7 will bring the museums’s Ann Garceau and Jamie Clemons, who with Jeff Mesaros, will conduct a “Native American Artifacts — Hear, See, Feel.”