Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Bee House

A long time ago, an older structure stood the test of time and waited for someone to notice.  It was an old rickety thing that housed mice, racoons, and squirrels.  Sometimes a wasp's nest would form.  An old gnarly Black Walnut tree grew next to it. 

The old gnarly black walnut tree that still stands on the property reminding me of my childhood.
This small building would pass onto generations of people. But it stood quiet....dark....eery.  As a child, I always had goosebumps walking around the place.  I'd run down the dyke to drop something off in the cellar with Grandpa who would inevitably run into some snarling rodent making a home around the parameter of the building for warmth during the winter months.  But before it became a storage unit, it was a place for something much more important......honey.  And it made lots of it.
In the 1920's, the Sladky Bee House became a 28 by 12 foot, 1 ½ story, building that was erected by Frank and Julia Sladky to house their beehives and honey collecting equipment.
The beehives were kept in the vaulted cellar during the winter.
Insulation between the cellar ceiling and the first floor was sawdust
gathered from the Holly Mill in Shoto. The honey was rendered on the first
floor and the attic was used for storage. The Sladky Honey was sold for
many years to people from Shoto, Manitowoc, Two Rivers and all the
surrounding areas. The Sladky Bee House, as it became known as, was
donated to the Pinecreast Historical Village by Dorothy and the late Bill
W, and was moved in 1988 to Pinecrest Village. It was opened to the
public in July 1990. Frank and Julia Sladky was Dorothy Krause's
great-aunt and uncle. And they were remembered by my mother.
Pic found on this website and not my own
What resurrected the bee house? Sadly, my Grandpa died in the late 80's at the young age of 57.  My grandmother no longer could care for the two large properties (which included the dyke) by herself.  She didn't want to get rid of the bee house but she didn't want to live in the same place that held all of the family memories of the past.  Instead, the Pinecrest Historical Society came and did an investigation on the property which included research on the authenticity of the building. After the work was done, the aged building would have to be carefully taken apart and brought back to the Pinecrest grounds where it would undergo the restoration process.
This is one awesome lady! I present to you(drum rolls) my Grandma:) She taught me a lot about vegetable gardening and the art of eating a GOOD kohlrabi, radish, or cherry tomato. Today she is remarried with 3 dogs and a husband.  They still live on the land where the bee house once stood with that black walnet tree next to their driveway. Grandma still makes that great rye bread with caraway seeds along with her infamous eggs and bacon. And during this visit....her chex mix!!!:)
Several months would pass and it would be added to their collection of historical buildings at their museum/village.  We were there watching my proud Grandmother cut that red ribbon.  Today, when she speaks about that old bee house, her eyes light up as she recalls all the memories that went with it.  And in a way the bee house will preserve her own memory after she's gone for future generations of people.
For more information on Pinecrest, you can click here.

People live. They breathe. And they die. Nothing signifies the passage of time like an old building passed from one generation to the next in a family.  The older I get; the more appreciation I have for the past.  Today others can walk through these old buildings and relive life as it was over a century ago.
 A special "thank you" goes out to Pinecrest.  These pics are courtesy of the Manitowoc County Historical Society and Mike Maher for sharing these recent pictures of the old Sladky bee house.  It truly is a remarkable building and I'm glad it's there today for people to enjoy.  They've done a great job fixing it up and seeing these shots make me smile.  It is a little house with a big personality.
This summer, we'll be heading back to Pinecrest and several historical places to discover Wisconsin and some of her old world charm.  Pinecrest is also located on some wonderfully restored and beautiful prairie land.  We'll be exploring traditional gardens and the places that surround them.  It's a series that I look forward to sharing with you all, but we'll have to wait until summer as it will be a bit warmer...and greener:)  More tomorrow....


  1. Great story we really enjoyed reading about this historic place. Looks like restoration went very well.

  2. Your grandma makes rye bread? I bow

    That little building would have drawn me like a bee to a a kid I couldn't have stayed away from it...especially with critters around it
    I think your reconnecting to your roots is fabulous
    So happy to see you with your grandma
    Wisconsin is a great place.....hope you get back their this summer with your camera and notebook

  3. Heartwarming post! I love old buildings, and even those that are crumbling make me stop and take in what I can. They have been the subject for many drawings. Lovely lady your gramma... I can see the pride in your eyes. Bless you!

  4. It is awesome to have been preserving even small houses with good memories. I envy this kind of preservation, as it is not very well done in this country. That is the price of not having more funds to spare, and priorities are for making more people live decent lives.

  5. that building is really wonderful. great that they preserved it. your grandmother is a doll! you had me at kohlrabi (YUM!) and rye bread w/ caraway seed (my mother made it, too!)

  6. A happy ending for the bee house. So neat that your family was part of all that. You're certainly documenting some great memories and events.

  7. I love the bee house, the whole thing is remarkable, pity your poor grandmother.

  8. That is incredibly amazing that you are linked to the past that way. I bet your Grandma is one proud woman!


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