Nostalgia comes in many shapes and sizes. One of the joys of preparing for this journey at The Forst Inn has been the number of times people have responded to the news of its return with stories of their memories of shows seen, roles performed, and events celebrated. During the long spring and summer preparing to arrive here, those conversations were mostly heard in the theatre community of Manitowoc, where the memories were joyfully focused on the time period during which Ron Kaminski filled the Inn with laughter and companionship.
Since occupying the property and beginning the exciting (and slightly frightening) task of sweeping out the dust and cobwebs, that experience has not only continued but also expanded into some remarkable new paths. For the community of Tisch Mills, the history of the Inn goes back long past the days when Kaminski converted the dance hall to a theatre. Their stories include memories of Frances Forst as she welcomed guests to the bar along with the many events and celebrations that took place in the dance hall. At that time, the theatre was a dance hall, and the backstage area was the Palm Bar...an open space that provided an airy space to pause and refresh from the exertions of whatever excitement was happening in the hall. These are stories of the social life of a community.
And it doesn't stop there. The building itself is filled with pictures, memorabilia, antiques, and equipment that have their own history and story to tell. What entertainment was centered around the player piano since it was built in the 1920s, or the news and programs that may have been listened to on one of the cabinet radios from that time? Even the furnaces, kitchen equipment and bathroom fixtures seem to have a tale to tell about the lives that were lived in and around these rooms.
It is a magical place. A place that has captured signal moments and daily living for close to 150 years. We who get to renew that magic and both preserve and reimagine the ongoing phases of The Forst Inn are truly blest. If you haven't done it yet, navigate to the history page and take a look at just a slice of some of the things we've found. It's a lovely journey.
'One week in as the new proprietors of the Forst Inn – and what a week it’s been! Our website and box office went live, and it was on!
Tickets started selling, UPS deliveries with needed equipment started arriving, the liquor license paperwork got completed, all sorts of calls went out to various contractors, artists, liquor distributors etc., the mailing list was prepared, our first artist exhibition was secured for the art gallery, two new board members joined the Forst Inn Arts Collective Board of Directors, auditions were held for the first play, and cleaning began in earnest with a host of friends and volunteers including Katie, Michael Sheek's daughter, and her boyfriend Mike who drove in from Minnesota to give three days of solid cleaning. It was a pretty amazing week – so much progress has been made.
But as I drove out of Tisch Mills tonight it hit me how remarkable the week was in another way. Our new neighbors couldn’t have been more friendly or helpful – from Ann, the Manager of Fat Boyz, to Linda the town clerk, to Kay, the owner of Cold Creek Winery, to Theresa, who runs the post office, to Ray, Joe, Carol and Steve at the fire station, to Gonzo and Curly who will be cutting our lawn, to our helpful neighbor Carl, to Pete and Sue who stopped on the road to congratulate us and are sending their son down to give us a hand – each and every one has made us feel welcome and has been incredibly helpful.
I’ve heard newcomers to the lakeshore area comment on how friendly people are here. I might have found the source – perhaps it’s something in the water in Tisch Mills, and if we’re lucky, some of it flows out to the rest of us.
Thank you to all the volunteers who helped this week, and thank you to all of our new neighbors who were so warm and welcoming. You never know where adventure will find you – and the adventures have just begun. Peace, friends.