‘It’s Time’ capital campaign reaches the halfway point

Published 9:22 am Thursday, May 5, 2016


The Underground Railroad Society of Cass County (URSCC) has reached the mid-point in their “It’s Time” capital campaign to complete the restoration of the historic Bonine House and Carriage House by the end of 2017.

With a fundraising goal of  $375,000, URSCC treasurer Cathy LaPointe credits the unflagging support of URSCC members and the generous matching grant of the McLoughlin Family Foundation.

“Our members dug deep and stepped up to the challenge offered by the McLoughlin Family of matching 50 cents of every dollar until June 30, 2016,” LaPorte said. “We are incredibly grateful.”

LaPointe said that donations from community organizations and clubs, local and regional businesses, and public grants have also contributed to achieving this milestone.

“This is truly a broad effort to restore two iconic buildings that we all connect with on many levels,” she said. “Whether you’ve always loved the Bonine House, remember Elk Park, watching movies on the back of the Carriage House, going to Bonine Corners for groceries, hearing stories of the Underground Railroad, Ramptown and the Kentucky Raid, have ancestors who took part in the UGRR or are kids participating in the Wax Museum or planting bushes in the front yard of the Bonine House, these buildings represent something that connects us all.”

Mike Moroz, president of URSCC, says the organization is very proud of the restoration of the Bonine House that began in 2011.

“We have insured the house is structurally sound, addressing critical repairs at the southwest corner and north wall, and adding the beautiful front porches,” he said. “We hope to complete the work this year, adding east and back porches, a kitchen and bathroom, and finishing the inside. We plan to make the Bonine House available for public events within a year. However our immediate attention must return to the Carriage House, where completing the restoration of the foundation and re-roofing is imperative if the building is to survive.  The second half of our Capital Campaign will focus on the Carriage House, which will become a UGRR station and period museum when restored.  We hope our community and the world at large will join us in this endeavor.”

LaPointe said that the McLoughlin Family Foundation matching grant is active until June 30 and invites everyone to join them in achieving their final goal. Donors will be recognized in the Bonine House.

Tax deductible donations can be sent to URSCC P.O. Box 124, Vandalia, MI  49095 or donate on line at www.urscc.org.  The Bonine House will be open for tours June through September. The Carriage House will be open as restoration efforts permit.