On The Move

Historical Museum selects Vince Lathrop to build exhibit

Submitted by CRIAG S. KOERPEL
Catawba Island Historical Society

CATAWBA ISLAND – Catawba Island Historical Society has selected Vince Lathrop to build museum display panels and kiosks.

Lathrop, local building contractor and master craftsman, has been tapped by the Catawba Island Historical Society to build the exhibit infrastructure at the planned Union Chapel Museum and Cultural Center.

The nave where religious services were conducted at Union Chapel will serve as the Museum’s main exhibition gallery. Limited wall space between the eight large side windows, coupled with the expansive central area, poses unique display challenges. A series of wall panels and free-standing kiosks will be built by Lathrop to add visual interest and help fill the open space.

“We selected Vince to do this not only because his was the most competitive bid, but because he has a reputation for bringing artistry to his work,” said Richard Thomas, the Historical Society Board member overseeing preparation of the Museum’s exhibit area. “He has satisfied some very picky clients over the years – people like Micosoft’s Bill Gates, Apple’s Steve Jobs and celebrity chef Guy Fiere. We should be in pretty good hands.”

Lathrop was born and raised in California. A daughter living in Cleveland convinced him to come to Ohio where his expertise as a west coast artisan led to managing a Westlake marble and granite company. One of his custom design clients introduced him to the Lake Erie Islands. He made Catawba his home in 2012.

“For a history buff like me, the North end of Catawba Island is particularly interesting,” said Lathrop. “Union Chapel saw a lot from its vantage point there on East Porter Street; the planning of Ottawa City … the birth and death of a cement company … all the fish and fruit export activity at the docks. If its walls will talk, you can bet I’ll listen while I’m working to enhance the new museum’s display capabilities.”

The Catawba Island Historical Society is a federal tax-free 501(c)(3) corporation. It has entered a long- term lease with Catawba Island Township to operate the presently unused Union Chapel as museum and cultural center. The main building was constructed in 1888 to serve as a non-denominational church and meeting hall for local residents. It was last used for regular religious services in the early 1980s by the Firelands Presbyterian congregation while its members were seeking a permanent venue of their own.

“We only recently began acquiring items that are specifically linked to Catawba Island,” said Thomas. “As we build a collection of our own, artifacts borrowed from nearby communities will round out our displays. In most cases there would be no difference between items used here or 50 miles away. Still, our objective will be to establish Catawba provenance whenever possible.”

Examples of displays the Historical Society has planned for the future include the area’s ice harvesting industry, answering the Catawba island vs. peninsula question, and lore and activities that made living and working here such a unique experience. Artifacts being assembled are linked to the vineyard, orchard, fishing and cement industries as well as Catawba’s role as a lakeside recreational mecca.

Timing on the museum’s debut and the kick off of the Historical Society’s 2018 membership drive are expected to be announced very shortly.

For information, contact Koerpel at ckoerpel@ roadrunner.com or 724-713-7313.