‘Our cottage legacy means everything:’ Cottager pots celebrate the history of the Arcadia Cottage Colony

Cottager pot outside of the Wilkins Cottage.

For roughly six years now, the Archives department has worked alongside various volunteers to collaborate with Arcadia Cottage Colony members to collect each unique cottage legacy story. The result: cottager pots. These informational planter placards display the stories for community commemoration and learning, just in time for the 100th anniversary of the Cottage Colony in 2027.

The idea originated from former women’s retreat speaker the late Phyllis Wallace. “She started this project and then we saw it through,” Archives director Ryan McKenna said.

“It’s an opportunity for people as they’re walking through our community to pause and take a minute to learn something about a place they’ve admired or always made them smile or are just curious about,” McKenna said.

With the help of Archives summer staffers and several volunteers, there are currently ten planters sprinkled throughout the Cottage Colony in front of each respective cottage, of the approximate 50 cottages in the colony.

We’re hoping by 2027 to have the majority of cottagers have them,” McKenna said. “They celebrate the story of their cottage and the people that may have owned it before them.”

Archives summer staffer Nolan Janke said his biggest role in the cottager pot creation process is the collection of stories and selection of graphics for the plaques.

“The logistics of putting it all together has been really fun because I get to read all of the pots,” Janke said. “Some of the cottages with original owners have stories about how they came in World War II . . . they talk about rationing and what camp was like then.”

Original plot photo of the Arcadia Cottage Colony. Courtesy: Camp Arcadia Archives.

Cottagers Bill and Kathleen Parsons of the Parsonage Cottage on Ridgewood Drive, said they enjoy seeing people stop by to read their story.

The Parsonage Cottage.

“Our cottage legacy means everything,” Bill said. “Everything.”

The Parsons are long-time campers who first met just outside the Wigwam. “We met here, we fell in love, and we fell in love with Arcadia for a lifetime,” Kathleen said. “And that’s our lifetime. And I don’t know what will happen in the future. We hope it’ll always stay in the Parsons family.”

The Archives department is interested in sharing as many cottager stories as possible, including those from relatively new cottagers, Janke said. “We want to know the process of building their cottage, but also Camp is part of why they’re here and we want to hear all of those stories.”

Cottagers interested in sharing their cottage story can contact Ryan McKenna at rkdarchives@gmail.com for further information.

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