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Another couple hundred years:


Questers restore Black Point dining set



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November 10, 2010 | 09:21 AM
Linn — They don't make many dining room sets like this one anymore.

It's an Eastlake triple-pedestal walnut dining table with 40 chairs. The set lies on a porch of the historic Black Point estate, in the same spot it has been since the home was built.

The set is actually older than the Queen Anne Victorian cottage which is just as iconic to the Geneva Lake shores as Yerkes Observatory and the Riviera. Black Point was built in 1888.

"The set has been lasting since 1864 and it has been outside on the porch without any protection," Gwen Tveter said.

"There's no heat out there on the porch," Don Rutkowski said. "It lies there during a freeze/thaw cycle."

One hundred and forty-six years later, time and the elements have taken their toll on the furniture.

"The base of the dining room table was damaged," Tveter said. "The veneer, a burled oak veneer, was crumbling."

"Through the ages, it peels back," Rutkowski said.

But thanks to a $5,000 grant and the efforts of Tveter and Rutkowski, there's no reason to pitch the set. It should remain as durable and elegant as Black Point itself.

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Passion

On Oct. 22, arguably one of the sunniest, most comfortable days this season, Tveter and Rutkowski discussed the restoration of the Eastlake dining room set on the porch at Black Point.

They share a passion for the lakefront estate.

"I'm an architect and I just love the historic value of this house," said Rutkowski, manager of the restoration project. "This is one of the best Victorian Queen Anne houses in the United States. Usually, a house like this would have a porch in front or on the side. This one has a total wrap-around porch (and) you won't see that anywhere in the U.S."

He said Tveter "put in half of her life for this" estate "since 1997." She wrote "The Black Point Legacy: 1888-2005." She is president of the Royal Joy Williams Quester Chapter No. 1288, which applied for the grant. Rutkowski is the vice president.

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"I knew this estate just growing up and walking around the area. ... There is no other lakefront estate which has remained as it was when it was first built," Tveter said.

She called Black Point "a time capsule."

That's why the dining room set restoration project was so important.

As for the grant, Tveter said the International Questers issue grants every two years to fund restoration projects by other Quester chapters.

"They usually give out about $200,000," she said. "The largest grant is $5,000."

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But it's a crowded field filled with chapters seeking grants from the International Questers. Tveter said her chapter had to vie for a grant against all the other Quester chapters. In Wisconsin alone, there are 15.

This is the second time the Royal Joy Williams chapter received the grant.

In 2008, the chapter received a grant to restore the bedroom set of Alma Petersen, a descendant of wealthy Chicago brewer Conrad Seipp, who had Black Point built. A bedroom set in another of Black Point's bedrooms also was restored.

In May, the dining room set was taken by Federal Restoration Studio, Mineral Point, for restoration. This is the same company which restored the bedroom sets.

The cost of the dining room set restoration project was $6,000. The Royal Joy Williams chapter paid $1,000 while the grant covered the remaining cost.

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