Trading cards to help save Portage historic sites

Dec 10, 2013

The grain elevator in Celery Flats
Credit Rebecca Thiele, WMUK

When we think of trading cards, our minds might automatically go to things like Pokemon or Yu-Gi-Oh. But for the City of Portage’s 50th anniversary, the Portage Historic District Commission is launching a very different set of cards.

The idea behind the Portage trading cards is to get citizens out to the city's historic places and show them the history right in their neighborhood. Each of the cards highlights select properties from the 40 existing historic sites in the City of Portage. Mark Reile is the chair person of the Portage Historic District Commission. He says Stuart Manor, which is featured on one of the cards, is the oldest known house in the city.

Stuart Manor in Celery Flats
Credit Rebecca Thiele, WMUK

“It was once owned by U.S. Senator Charles Stuart. That’s how we gave it the name Stuart Manor," says Reile. “It was originally on Milham Avenue, and it was moved here when the city decided to create this little development of Celery Flats to maintain some of the historic structures in Portage.”

Reile says a commissioner got the idea for the trading cards from cards that were passed out at her daughter's school.

“They did caricatures of their teachers, and they passed them out as trading cards. So we developed from that," Reile says. "So we started out as a brochure, we had the card idea and that seemed more fun to do.”

A house at 6638 Angling Road is also featured on one of the cards. Reile says it an Italianate style style home.

“It’s brick primarily and the Italianate features are the tall windows, the nice brick detailing at the head of the windows. The low slopped hipped roof with the wide over hangs, and then the heavy wood detailing just below the overhang at the fascia and the frieze," he says. "It’s got a lot of character. It’s a nice proportioned structure. It’s got bay windows and a lot of variety with the windows. Which are also features of the Italianate style and one of my favorite homes in the district.”

The goal is to show the community why it’s important to save these historic homes for future generations.

“There’s drawings of the properties not photos intentionally hoping that people will discover the properties on their own," says Reile. "And we hope to continue this the next couple of years and cover all the properties in the district.”

Commissioner Suzanne Nemeth drew sketches of historic places in Portage like the grain elevator in Celery Flats--one of the city of Portage's earliest remaining commercial buildings. 

“Not only is it commercial in nature but it is agricultural in nature, because it was a Grain Elevator--a working Grain elevator," Reile says. "It was originally located at the corner of Centre and Shaver roads, and the city moved it here to preserve it when that property was sold and going to be developed. Which was a quiet of feat in itself to move a brick building and keep it intact and then it was restored.”

If you would like a pack of the Historic Portage Trading Cards they’re available at: Portage City Hall, Life Story Funeral Home, Portage Senior Center, Offices of Nelson Nave, TMP Architecture Offices.