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Recalled to life, Greendale Hose Tower to Haunt Again

Week#42: Greendale Historical Society’s Third Annual Halloween Walk Through the Woods at the Hose Tower bring ghoulish but wholesome talent with Accompany of Kids. Community Volunteers support the event. Hose Tower Memories.

History records and explains past events, while folklore preserves what people widely remember.

History and Folklore!

Breathing life into the Hose Tower and Grounds Building for the community is a major effort of the Greendale Historical Society. Ghosts and goblins of Halloween Past are already meeting quietly, so if you imagine you see a mist in the woods or a veiled face peering from the windows of the historic building don’t be alarmed – they’re just preparing for the society’s Third Annual Halloween Walk Through the Woods at the Hose Tower on Saturday, October 20 from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Children from K4 through 4th grade must be accompanied by a parent. At $1.00 admission it’s the best show in town!

While your children are enjoying the walk through the woods, parents are welcome to enjoy refreshments inside the Hose Tower and meet members of the Greendale Historical Society Board of Directors and Fundraising Committee. If you haven’t had a chance to see them yet, renderings for adaptive re-use plans of the Hose Tower by architect James Read will be on display.

This year will see the return of Accompany of Kids (AOK), a youth group who really loved performing at last year’s Halloween Walk. Also dubbed the “Musical Ambassadors of Menomonee Falls”, the troupe of talented kids between the ages of 8 and 20 are seasoned performers who hone their craft at various festivals and community events throughout Milwaukee County. Accompany of Kids, a non-profit organization, has been in business for over twenty years providing singing and dancing lessons and
professional experience for youth.

Trading the stage for the woods behind the Hose Tower last year was “outside of what we normally do”, according to Geri Voboril, AOK Vice President of Marketing and Communications, “and they loved it. They really liked interacting with the kids”. They have been rehearsing the past month for this year’s event and will be performing a variety of numbers, with a special guest appearance by Scooby-Doo for the young ones. This year AOK is also contributing suckers and promotional cards for the goody bags being handed out to the first 150 kids. The cards will be good for one dollar off their AOK Christmas Show in December or their big Gala in March 2013.

The first Halloween Walk Through the Woods at the Hose Tower event in 2010 was the brainstorm of Bill Kewan, Chair of the Society’s Fundraising Committee, to demonstrate the value of the Hose Tower as a community gathering place and to provide fun entertainment for kids. It takes many people to make this event happen and Donean Szajkovics was a great help in getting the first Halloween Walk going. Since 2010 Lauren Nitka, a senior at Greendale High School, has helped with face painting and coordinating student chaperones to escort children on the woodland path behind the tower.

This is truly a community event supported by numerous volunteers. Thanks to the hard work of the 12-member Fundraising Committee it improves each year. The event’s past and current support includes the Greendale Lions, Halloween Express, and Greendale businesses that will include coupons in this year’s goody bags. Greg Sylvester, Al and Ginny Emmons, George Chankeski and others offer the use of their Halloween decorations. Along with Bill Kewan, Joan Berg has been instrumental in coordinating logistics. Steve Peters is key designer for the annual Halloween Walk poster and other visuals. This year, Randy Fechmeyer of Total Lawn Care, has generously offered to clear the woods of leaves with his power blower, a job that took hours of raking the last two years.

This village spirit comes from youth in the community too. Even the little ones have gotten into the act. The third grade class at Canterbury School went on a tour of the village which included the Hose Tower as part of the Society’s education outreach efforts. Their historical research included interviewing board members Mary Mainella and Bob DeRoche. In spring they presented a check for $205 to society President, Ted Mainella, from the sales of an original book the class created on the history of Greendale (see Greendale Patch, May 15, 2012). Who knows? They may start a junior chapter of “Future Greendale Historical Society Members” and some day will tell their children stories of the annual Halloween Walk, how they helped to save the Hose Tower and other community events that will be held there once the renovation is complete.

The Grounds Building and Hose Tower and old Fire and Police station are village landmarks (see Week#54). You have to picture the period in 1938-39. Greendale was a newly constructed federal experiment for a planned community, one of only three “greenbelt” communities nationwide. The Originals were built, Eleanor Roosevelt visited the project and caused a traffic jam on Grange Avenue, and Alonzo Hauser was working outside on his statue of the flagpole base with brilliant skies overhead before the trees matured to create the breathtaking green space we all now enjoy. And the iconic Art Deco style, red-bricked Grounds Building and Hose Tower, completed in 1939, was also just beginning its history.

The all-volunteer Fire Department served the community from the Fire and Police Station and hung the old cotton hoses to dry in the Hose Tower before moving to their new facility in 1972. The building has served the community for many years but has been used primarily for municipal storage recently. The Greendale Historical Society’s plans for adaptive re-use of the building as meeting space is about to enter a new phase.

Thanks to grants, Village matching funds, and donations from the community the bricked over windows were replaced last year. Architect James Read is now working closely with Ted Mainella, Bob Prindiville and the Greendale Historical Society board of directors to begin work on installing the public restrooms section. With continued community support and financing the Grounds Building and Hose Tower will be one of many attractions at next year’s 75th Anniversary Celebration. The society was instrumental in working with the Wisconsin State Historical Society and preparing the application for the Village of Greendale to be designated as a National Historic Landmark. You can view the nomination papers, which include detailed information about the history of Greendale, on the Greendale Historical Society website.

The Greendale Historical Society’s mission is to preserve and foster appreciation of Greendale, Wisconsin, one of only three American Greenbelt communities. Through events like the Annual Halloween Walk Through the Woods at the Hose Tower, it is not only preserving cultural heritage but helping to create memories of the Hose Tower and woods for new generations. The capital campaign for the adaptive re-use of the Hose Tower and Grounds Building will contribute to the revitalization of this historic building that will benefit the entire community for years to come.

The society extends a special thanks to the school district and Village Trustees for permission to use the property for this event, and additional thanks to the Greendale Police for sending two auxiliary police to help with security. It will be comforting to have the added protection with the Cackling Witch, played by Lynn VanKanegan, in the vicinity, not to mention the Grim Reaper played by Ken Judy, and a host of other goblins this year.

But did you know?

  • Halloween in America can be traced back to Celtic pagan origins   with the celebration of the end of the harvest in Samhain, or the “Celtic New Year”, and also the English observation of Guy Fawkes Day on November 5. By the early 1900s the customs brought over by immigrants evolved into American traditions found in the carving of Jack-O-Lanterns, costuming, and trick-or-treating. While Salem, Massachusetts claim to fame is the infamous Salem Witch Trials, the city of Anoka, Minnesota was the first city to hold an official Halloween celebration in 1920 and has been dubbed the “Halloween Capital of the World”.
  • The Hose Tower and Grounds Building was used as a youth community center in the 70s.
  • In the 40s the Greendale Fire Department held water fights with other volunteer fire departments on the 4th of July (see Week#57).

People, Past & Present!

Former Greendale resident, Jane Kaczmarek, who played the mom on the hit TV series “Malcolm in the Middle”, is the Honorary Chairperson of the fundraising campaign to restore the Grounds Building and Hose Tower. She was recruited by Greendale Historical Society board member and Education Chair, Bob De Roche, in a chance meeting at the Milwaukee County Airport.

William Schleichert held an annual wild game dinner for the firemen at his house which included raccoon, pheasant, and an occasional bear.

Greendale Trivia Question and Answer:

Week#43 AnswerThe papers for incorporating and establishing the Greendale Cooperative Association were filed in August of 1938. The first store to open was the Cooperative Food Store on September 25th, 1938.

Week#42 Question – Do you know where the original 1937 Diamond T fire truck is now located?

** Week #42 contributors
Kitty Hill, William ’Bill’ Kewan, Geri Voboril, Greendale Historical Society.


Jacob Wadsworth October 30, 2012 at 09:32 AM
Seems to be so much fun. I'm sure the kids will love a good scare from the old buildings there. I guess no country is better at celebrating the Halloween than the Western ones. - http://towermaintenance.com/

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