Opinion

Thanks go to those who support Yeomalt Cabin

Matt Croxford, a Life Scout from Troop 1565, paints his troop’s recent donation onto the Yeomalt Cabin Fund progress tree. - Courtesy of Gerald Elfendahl
Matt Croxford, a Life Scout from Troop 1565, paints his troop’s recent donation onto the Yeomalt Cabin Fund progress tree.
— image credit: Courtesy of Gerald Elfendahl

The Park District’s Finance Committee and commissioners have patiently been reviewing plans and finances to restore historic Yeomalt Cabin.

Team Yeomalt member, Clo Copass, reports reason to be excited.

“Thanks to a recent outpouring of community support, as of May 14, we have raised $208,684 – nearly 80 percent of our overall project goal,” he said. “We are working with the board to get major work underway as soon as possible.”

It takes a village to preserve the island’s “hearth and soul!” As fund raising goes on, it is a good time to say “thanks!” and to share a story and news of a special gift.

Many of you donated anonymously into replica log cabin banks made by Scouts and Boys & Girls Club members. One of you left a $100 check there. We wish we knew the rest of your names to thank you personally. We have been moved by helpful young repetitive donors to those piggy banks. We thank Catherine Bucsit and American Marine Bank for help depositing coins. We muse at donations of: A button, a Woodland Park Zoo medallion, coins minted in Canada, Japan, Korea, China, Australia, Europe, Spain; plus one mint minted of chocolate. The many hundreds of dollars raised via these cabins are significant.

Many have donated to the Yeomalt Cabin Fund of the Bainbridge Island Park Foundation (PO Box 10010). We thank you and list your names on the Project Bulletin Board at Ace Hardware.

There are too many to list here, but there are noteworthy donors: Former Island Scout and Secretary of State Ralph Munro has donated to the Camp Hopkins Fund monthly for three years!

We are also thankful for your help from the Suquamish Tribe, and Bainbridge Island’s Rotary Club, Park Foundation, Community Endowment, Arts & Humanities Council, city and Park District.

We appreciate recent major donations by: Scout Troop 1565 in honor of their former Scoutmaster, Richard Cleven; Kitsap Commissioners and North Kitsap’s Steve Bauer; Ace Hardware; the “chairman” of Kitsap Bank; an anonymous neighbor in honor of Island Scouts; and 64 other individuals and households.

While most responded to the recent need to fill a funding gap of cash, we are thankful for generous volunteers (ages 4 to 93) whose material and labor donations exceed $28,000. They’re listed at Ace. There will be more opportunities for in-kind help as work begins.

Another donor deserves special mention. Winifred Hopkins Eschweiler, the 102-year-old daughter of Ethel Menzies and Major M. J. Hopkins, passed away May 8 in the Village of Chenequa, Wis. Her father founded Island Scouting.

“Winnie” was born in Ariege, France, in 1906 and spent her early years in rural Japan where her father worked as a mining engineer. She was a Carroll College graduate.

I spoke with her on a two occasions when she was over 100. She was bright, cheerful and a pleasure with whom to share conversation. Her son reported that she smiled and was delighted to have been able to make a contribution to the “Yeomalt Cabin Fund” to help restore the log meeting hall, “Camp Hopkins,” which bears her father’s name.

It was built between 1935 and 1937 by the WPA as a hall for Scouts - girls and boys. She knew how much her father believed in youth, Scouting, and outdoor education. She appreciated that Islanders had listed the log hall on the National Register of Historic Places. She shared personal letters, photos and an autobiography from her father.

Major Hopkins was worldly, a U.S. citizen born, raised and, for 25 years, lived in Europe. His father founded and published the largest morning newspaper in Paris in the 1880’s.

Hopkins and his brother were educated at Charterhouse, a prestigious private school in England, in part through arrangements of an alumnus, Lord Baden-Powell, founder of Scouting.

Hopkins spoke six languages, earned degrees in geology and engineering and lived on four continents. He helped a young fellow engineer in England translate his “Principles of Mining” into French - Herbert Hoover. Years later,

President Hoover asked Hopkins, who was then a major in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer and a dam specialist, to help select the site for Grand Coulee Dam. Robert Rodal, Rolling Bay, assisted with some survey work.

Winifred’s father was scoutmaster of Rolling Bay Troop #1. His wife, Ida, taught Campfire Girls. An active community leader, Major Hopkins was a port commissioner, Democratic precinct committeeman, Bainbridge Community Club president and drafted the Island’s first recreation plan (1940). An outdoorsman, he helped found the Sportsmen’s Club (1929). In the heart of the Great Depression, he helped put together two federal work projects here.

One was a Cub Scout camp with shelters and fireplaces – today’s West Port Madison Nature Preserve. Another was the log hall at Yeomalt Park. Except for brief use as a recreation hall by coast artillery men and Soviet mariners during World War II, it has served youth and other public needs.

When Hopkins needed plans for the log hall, he solicited the help of another English-educated, Rolling Bay resident architect Percy Horrocks.

Hopkins described him as “a crack Seattle architect” who drew cabin plans for the WPA. Among Horrocks’ designs: Seattle’s Women’s Century Club, Green Lake Baptist Church, and the Seattle Betsuin Buddhist Temple with A. K. “Lefty” Arai who was born at Port Blakely. Arai was the first Japanese American to earn a degree in Architecture from the University of Washington.

Winifred Hopkins Eschweiler had fond memories of visiting her father, stepmother and their friends at Rolling Bay and the view from their home overlooking the Sound atop Sunrise Drive. Her son reports, “She had followed efforts to restore Yeomalt Cabin and was very happy to lend a helping hand.”

Her memorial service will be in Hartland, Wis., on May 31. Remembrances can be sent to Planned Parenthood, 300 N. Jackson, Milwaukee, WI 53202 or to AIDS Resource Center, 820 N. Plankinton, Milwaukee, WI 53202.

Gerald Elfendahl is a local historian

Community Events, April 2014

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