By Jim Hayden
Hear ye! Hear ye! The Saugatuck Town Crier declares view Aug. 10 from the top of the Mackinac Bridge as spectacular!
Art Tolsma, a 6’6” roofing business head and winner of a Felt Estate fundraising raffle in December for two tickets to travel and climb there, looked out on a clear day with slight breeze from more than 550 feet above the Straits of Mackinac.
“I knew the view would be good,” said Tolsma, who joined friend Steve Langeland, also of Holland, ascending the span’s south tower, “but it was amazing to be up there with such perfect conditions.”
The Felt was one of 25 state nonprofits picked by the Mackinac Bridge Authority to receive a tower tour certificate to be raffled or auctioned for charitable purposes.
“I am super thankful to (Felt operating director) Patty Meyer and the Estate for getting everything in place for this tour,” Tolsma, who also serves as Saugatuck Town Crier, said.
The bridge tour started with a drive to the tower with the bridge guide, who unlocked a hatch door to a tiny elevator.
“Not really big enough for three people,” Tolsma said, but they fit. “We rode it as far as it would go, got out and had to go up through four more hatch doors and stairs to get to the top.
“It was a once in a lifetime experience,” Tolsma said.
The Friends of the Felt Estate is a 501c3 nonprofit that works to protect, enhance and enjoy places that to members matter.
The Felt Mansion was built in 1925 by Dorr Felt, inventor of the Comptometer, a basic adding machine. After Felt’s death, the property was purchased by the St. Augustine Seminary for a school then, in the 1970s, by the state to use as a prison.
After the prison and Michigan State Police post that was in the mansion closed in the 1990s, Laketown Township bought the property.
For the past 20 years, the Friends, led by Meyer, has restored the mansion to its 1920s splendor. For more on the mansion, visit feltmansion.org.