Pickle Barrel House
Pickle Barrel House
|Location||Burt Township, Michigan|
|Area||3 acres (1.2 ha)|
|Architect||Cunliff, Harold S.|
|NRHP Reference #||03001548 |
|Added to NRHP||February 4, 2004|
The Pickle Barrel House is a two-story cabin built to resemble two barrels. The house design is based on cartoon characters that were two inches tall and lived under a rose bush in a pickle barrel. It is currently located in Grand Marais, Michigan on Michigan's Upper Peninsula on the southern shore of Lake Superior. It is near the intersection of state highway M-77 and county road H-58 of this gateway town to the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The main part is a 16-foot (4.88 m) tall barrel and has two stories. The main floor is for the living area and the upstairs is a bedroom. A smaller barrel serves as the kitchen and the two barrels are connected by a pantry. There is an outdoor garden and also a seating area with a garden path between these two.
William Donahey was an author, illustrator, and cartoonist. He created the Teenie Weenies cartoon feature which was a widely syndicated comic that debuted in the Chicago Tribune in 1914. The comic feature continued until his death in 1970. It featured tiny people who lived in a world of life-sized objects. To these tiny people the real world objects were gargantuan.
Donahey did several advertisements for Reid-Murdock & Company for the Monarch Foods line. Teenie Weenies were on many of the labels of Monarch food products including coffee, peanut butter, popcorn, sausage, bacon, and all kinds of vegetables, including pickles. One advertisement featured a small pickle keg that was used as a house by some of his Teenie Weenies children characters.
One day in 1926 as a surprise for Donahey's wife Mary Dickerson Donahey, herself an author, along with Reid-Murdock he had a duplicate large version of the keg house built that they could actually use. Reid-Murdock ordered the Pickle Barrel House to be built by the Pioneer Cooperage Company of Chicago. This special cottage would then be for the Donaheys to use as a summer cabin in the woods at Grand Sable Lake to inspire their writings. The barrel house was a large-scale version of the miniature oak casks that held the Monarch-brand pickles. The Donaheys received much attention for their "barrel house on the lake" since nobody ever saw anything like this before. However, after 10 years it became a burden because of all the curiosity seekers and onlookers wanting to see how they lived. Ultimately they moved it from its original lake location.
The Pickle Barrel house was moved to downtown Grand Marais in 1936 from the woods at nearby Grand Sable Lake when new tenants took possession. Through the years it was an ice-cream stand, an information kiosk booth, and a souvenir gift shop. These various tenants over the many years did not maintain the cottage as it should have been taken care of and the barrel house fell into disrepair. In 2003 the Grand Marais Historical Society acquired the property. They undertook the project of restoring the structure to its original condition. On July 3, 2005, after much work and with a budget of $125,000 in expenses the renovated Pickle Barrel House was opened to the public. The barrel house now shows how the Donaheys lived there in their summer cottage in the woods by the lake in the 1920s and 30s.
The barrel house museum has old pictures of the Donaheys in their one-of-a-kind pickle barrel cottage. Some of these old photos of the 1920s even show the "curiosity visitors" at their cottage in the woods. In the museum also are several books and other materials on William Donahey and his children's Teenie Weenies. One room alone showcases William Donahey and his artwork of creations of the Teenie Weenies. In this room is a seven inch barrel on display showing a promotion for Monarch sweet pickles. The barrel house pretty much recreates its appearance and "atmosphere" when the Donaheys lived there. Out of town tourists that visit the unique and unusual house can now get the feel for what everyday life in a barrel would be like.
There is a Michigan Historical Marker at the Pickle Barrel House location that reads:
- (front side)
- Pickle Barrel House
|“||The Pioneer Cooperage Company of Chicago designed this small vacation cottage, which stood on the shores of nearby Sable Lake from 1926 until about 1937. It was built for William Donahey, creator of the Chicago Tribune cartoon story The Teenie Weenies. The house was constructed as a typical barrel would have been, only on a much larger scale. The main barrel contained a living area on the first floor and a bedroom on the second. A pantry connected this barrel to a smaller single-story one, which housed a kitchen. Donahey spent ten summers at the cottage with his wife, Mary, herself a noted author of children's books. The structure was then moved to its current site and used as a tourist information center. The Pickle Barrel House is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.||”|
- (back side)
- The Teenie Weenies
|“||William Donahey's widely syndicated comic, The Teenie Weenies, debuted in the Chicago Tribune in 1914 and continued until the creator's death in 1970. The cartoon story featured miniature people who lived in a world of life-sized objects that to them were enormous. The popularity of these playful characters led to a contract for Donahey with the Chicago firm of Reid, Murdoch and Company, which hired the artist to create packaging and advertising for its line of food products. The Pickle Barrel House was a large-scale version of the miniature oak casks in which the company's Monarch-brand pickles were sold, and was likely intended as an advertisement for their pickle products. Teenie Weenie books were translated into several languages and over one million copies were sold worldwide.||”|
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09.
- "William Donahey's Teenie Weenies". Retrieved 2008-05-16.
- "The Teenie Weenies". Retrieved 2008-05-16.
- Hunt, Mary and Hunt, Don (2007). "Pickle Barrel Museum". Hunt's Guide to Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Albion, MI: Midwestern Guides. Retrieved 2008-05-15.
- "Road Trip America". Retrieved 2008-05-15.
- "Then and Now". Retrieved 2008-05-15.
- "Absolute Michigan". Retrieved 2008-05-15.
- "Michigan Historic Preservation Office" (PDF). Retrieved 2008-05-15.
- "Michigan Historical Markers". Retrieved 2008-05-15.
- Historical photographs of the Pickle Barrel House
- Pickle Barrel House museum dedication July 3, 2005
- Other historical photographs of the Pickle Barrel House
- Other history of Tweenie Weenies and Pickle Barrel House