Party raises money for Bonine House Restoration Project

Published 5:14 pm Thursday, September 29, 2011

Motorists who drove by the Bonine House Sept. 22 may have stopped in their tracks.
The Bonine House was alive with laughter and friendship once again thanks to some local women who decided to throw a party, invite their friends and give all the proceeds to the Bonine House Restoration Project.
Kathy Ruple wanted to do a fundraiser for the Bonine House and her husband Jack said, “well, why not have it at the house?” So she did.
Kathy is passionate about many things and among them is staging homes for events and for sale. She immediately saw the house with linens, silver, candles, ferns and flowers and filled with period pieces. She called on her friends Judy Rutherford, Brenda Bergemann, Glenyce Haggin, Linda Stone and Dorothy Mickey and together they created a lovely home and a memorable party. The house overflowed with artifacts in every room, and one of Roger Pecina’s wonderful old cars adorned the front yard.
A powerful poem titled “The Fugitive Slave,” written by Lois Cross-Hart, was read by Carolyn Kelly, and officers of the Underground Railroad Society of Cass County (URSCC) were there to meet their donors.
Phase one of the restoration of the Bonine House is under way. The southwest corner of the home will be taken down and rebuilt, an intricate and costly undertaking. Tom Nehil, structural engineer, and Blair Bates, president of Building Restoration, Inc., were on hand to explain the details of the project.
URSCC showed a PowerPoint presentation created by newly elected board member Lin Pollard on the history of the Bonine House and URSCC, as well as a summary of activities since purchasing the house and carriage house in December.
Cathy LaPointe, URSCC treasurer, presented a vision of lovely weddings, and other special events held downstairs; with rooms upstairs dedicated to the story of the Underground Railroad in Cass County and the communities involved.
Mike Moroz, president of the organization, spoke of the legacy of freedom the Bonine House represents and what a loss it would be to this community and to the world if the Bonine House and carriage house were to disappear.
Moroz and LaPointe presented URSCC secretary Nancy Neff with a framed thank you for her service to the organization and her love of the Bonine House.
Call URSCC at (269) 445-7358 or email for more information. Donations to the Bonine House Restoration Project can be made to URSCC by mail to P.O. Box 124 Vandalia, MI 49095 or online at