Lawrence University officials today (8/5) announced a $5 million fund-raising campaign to enhance facilities and programs at Björklunden, the college’s “northern campus” in Door County.
The campaign will target funds for the expansion of housing and classroom space at the 425-acre estate’s main lodge, the renovation of an artist’s studio built in 1929 by the original owners of the property and the growth of a Björklunden endowment to support ongoing operations.
The campaign will be chaired by Robert Schaupp, president of P&S Investment Company of Green Bay, a 1951 Lawrence graduate and a member of the college’s Board of Trustees.
“Björklunden is a fantastic asset for Lawrence and for the entire Door County community,” said Schaupp. “We have a great opportunity to ensure Björklunden’s future promise through this effort.”
According to Schaupp, more than $1.5 million has already been committed to the campaign.
Joining Schaupp on the campaign’s steering committee will be Oscar C. Boldt, Appleton, chairman of The Boldt Group, Inc.; Spencer Gould, Ephraim, former director of the Reliable Life Insurance Company of St. Louis, Mo.; Gretchen Maring, Ellison Bay, a 1952 Lawrence graduate; Ellsworth Peterson, Sturgeon Bay, former president and CEO of Peterson Builders Inc. and his wife, Carla, a long-time member of the Peninsula Player’s board of directors; Cyndy Stiehl, Ephraim, a 1989 Lawrence graduate and member of the Board of Trustees, Lee Traven, Baileys Harbor, a 1952 Lawrence graduate; and Richard Warch, Ellison Bay, former president (1979-2004) of Lawrence University.
Located on the Lake Michigan side of the Door peninsula just south of Baileys Harbor, Björklunden Vid Sjön — Norwegian for “Birch Forest by the Water” — hosts weekend retreats and seminars for Lawrence students throughout the academic year and week-long adult continuing-education seminars during the summer. In addition, music recitals and small concerts that are free and open to the public are held there frequently. Björklunden’s facilities, including lodging, are available for use by private, public, and corporate groups for conferences, meetings, and special events.
To accommodate increased usage and demand for the facility, Lawrence plans an expansion and extension of the estate’s main lodge that calls for the addition of 10 new bedrooms with lake views, a large multi-purpose room and a new seminar room, a computer room, a mudroom for the sciences and an observation deck for a telescope. Other new features planned include an elevator, additional bathrooms, storage and mechanical rooms and expanded on-site parking.
The expansion will add approximately 20,000 square feet, more than doubling the size of the existing 17,190-square foot, two-story seminar and conference center. The addition will increase summer seminar sleeping capacity from 22 to 44 and school year sleeping capacity from 54 to 104.
Miller Wagner Coenen and McMahon, a Neenah-based architectural firm that designed the current lodge, will oversee the expansion plans. College officials hope to begin construction by the fall of 2006.
The Björklunden estate, which features large tracts of woods, meadows and more than a mile of unspoiled Lake Michigan shoreline, was bequeathed to Lawrence in 1963 by Donald and Winifred Boynton, a self-taught artist, of Highland Park, Ill., with the understanding that it would be preserved in a way that would ensure its legacy as a place of serenity and contemplation.
One of the estate’s principle features is a small stavkirke — a rustic wooden chapel which the Boyntons handcrafted from 1939-47. The chapel contains 41 hand painted frescoes and numerous carved-wood furnishings and is a popular site for summer weddings.
Björklunden’s original main lodge, which had served as the Boyntons’ summer residence, was destroyed by fire in 1993. A new “lodge,” more than four times the size of the original and accented with decorated ridgepoles that help retain the estate’s distinct Norwegian heritage, was completed in 1996.
Each week during the academic year, groups of Lawrence faculty members and students gather at Björklunden to explore and reflect upon ideas, artistic expressions, and community issues. In the 2004-05 academic year, more than 1,200 students and faculty members, comprising 67 groups, came to Björklunden to study and learn in 30 separate weekend programs.
Popular summer adult education seminars have been offered at Björklunden since 1980. This summer, Björklunden is hosting 30 week-long classes that began late in April and will end in mid-October, accommodating more than 500 seminar participants.
During July and August, the professional classical theatre company Door Shakespeare presents evening pubic performances of “The Comedy of Errors” and Oliver Goldsmith’s “She Stoops to Conquer” at Björklunden.