Becky Shemenski cooks up a little history at The Keeper’s House

Jun 11, 2024 | Featured, Around Ottawa County | 0 comments

Becky Shemenski, left, and KC Cousins make Lighthouse Corn Chowder at The Keeper’s House on June 8. (Photo by Sheri Trusty)

BY SHERI TRUSTY

Visitors who stopped by The Keeper’s House in Marblehead on June 6 received an extra (tasty) historical experience. They had the opportunity to sample Lighthouse Corn Chowder prepared from an 1896 recipe. Becky Shemenski cooked the chowder over an open fire as part of the Ottawa County Historical Society’s annual hearth cooking demonstration at the 1822 house, which was home to Benajah Wolcott, the first keeper of the Marblehead Lighthouse.

The recipe exemplified the type of one-pot meal lighthouse keepers would have prepared. They were too busy for elaborate meals, especially if they didn’t have the assistance of a wife.

Visitors to The Keeper’s House on June 8 had the chance to sample corn chowder made from an 1896 recipe. (Photo by Sheri Trusty)

“It was made with ingredients the lighthouse keepers would have had on hand from their garden or from food the federal government provided for them,” Shemenski said. “They could make this, and it would last 24 hours if it was kept warm by the fire.”

Ron Hart tends the fire for events at The Keeper’s House, and he has been a Marblehead Lighthouse tour guide for 13 years. He grew up on a farm in Ashland, where tending fires was a part of everyday life in the colder months.

“I always enjoy helping with the fire,” Hart said. “I try to keep busy with this kind of thing.”

Becky Shemenski has been doing hearth cooking demonstrations at The Keeper’s House for over ten years. (Photo by Sheri Trusty)

Shemenski has been offering hearth cooking demonstrations at The Keeper’s House for over ten years.

“It’s fun to expose people to this. It’s nice seeing the young people come in. Some have never seen a meal prepared from scratch, especially over a fire. This is a fun part of history,” Shemenski said.

Shemenski is grateful for the help of Hart and KC Cousins, who assists with the cooking.

Sparks fly as Ron Hart tends the fire at The Keeper’s House. (Photo by Sheri Trusty)

“Ron Hart is a very good fire person, and KC is a huge help,” she said.

Cousins has been volunteering with Shemenski for three years.

“I like historical reenactments, and I like historical clothing,” she said. “This is fun. I’m just a huge lover of history.”

The Keeper’s House is open for the summer season. (Photo by Sheri Trusty)

The Keeper’s House is open on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays, from 1 – 4 p.m. from Saturday June 15 through Monday, Sept. 2. The Keeper’s House is located at 9999 E. Bayshore Road, Marblehead. For more information, visit www.ottawacountyhistory.org.

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