W.E. Spindler Home Once Served as Manitou Girl Scout Headquarters
As part of Girl Scout Week, March 10 to March 16, National Girl Scout Day was observed on March 12. Girl Scouting in the United States began on March 12, 1912, when Juliette Gordon Low organized the first Girl Scout troop meeting. Girl Scouting began its roots in Manitowoc in 1927, when the Manitowoc Girl Scout Committee was organized by Mrs. Walter Spindler (1888-1962).
Her involvement in Girl Scouts was acknowledged in her obituary. “She was chairman of the first camp committee of the Council and did much to establish the council’s camping program at Camp Sinawa, Pigeon Lake, and Camp Manitou. In 1961, Mrs. Spindler donated and dedicated the first troop shelter at Girl Scout Camp Manitou. It was named the Spindler Troop Shelter in her honor. Through her efforts the Walter E. Spindler Foundation was responsible for erection of a huge new fireplace in the lodge at Camp Sinawa. It was dedicated in June of 1961.”
On September 9, 1963, Mrs. John Torrison, the former Mary Spindler, presented her mother’s home, located at 1210 South Lake Street, Manitowoc, to the Manitou Girl Scout Council for their headquarters. The home was donated by the W.E. Spindler Foundation as a memorial to Mrs. Walter Spindler.
The Manitowoc Herald-Times covered the donation in an article on September 25, 1963. John W. Torrison, chairman of the foundation’s board of advisors, stated “The foundation is pleased to make this presentation to the Manitou Girl Scout Council. It is in keeping with the policy of our foundation to contribute to educational, charitable, and social service programs of benefit to the community where employees of Aluminum Specialty reside.”
At the time of the donation, Mrs. H.C. Meiselwitz of Kiel served as the council’s president. The council encompassed four counties with more than 6,000 Girl Scout members and 2,500 adults. Meiselwitz stated “Today we take time to thank the capable and cooperative citizens who have contributed in many ways…citizens such as Mrs. Walter E. Spindler and Mr. and Mrs. John W. Torrison. We shall, with this gift, be better equipped to carry on the work of Girl Scouting…to further interpret the work of the Girl Scout program to the public. The home will help us meet the growing needs of our organization.” The council’s office had been previously located on the third floor of the Wood Block in downtown Manitowoc since 1935.
The home itself has a unique history and significance as the only house in Manitowoc reflecting the high style Victorian Gothic Revival school of architecture. The home’s older portion was constructed on Marshall Street around 1875 and moved to South Lake Street around 1914. It was constructed by August F. Dumke (1824-1906), who immigrated to Manitowoc in 1853 from Germany. He served in the Civil War as 1st Lieutenant and was promoted to Captain of Company B, 9th Wisconsin Infantry. The home was the family’s homestead until 1890.
William Rahr II (1854-1919) acquired the property in 1912. The home was moved to the 1210 South Lake Street location in 1914 as a wedding gift from William and Olga Rahr to their daughter, Martha, and son-in-law, Walter E. Spindler, son of Mr. Charles E. Spindler. Walter E. Spindler was heavily involved in the business sector. He was one of the founders of the Northern Wisconsin Produce Company and later became president and general manager of the Aluminum Specialty Company. Spindler was vice-president of the Spindler, Company, Manitowoc.
An addition to the home was built in 1931 and reflects the Tudor Revival style. The residence exists today as a private home.