By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
The new fireplace at the Wintergarden Park Rotary Nature Center tells a story – many stories, actually.
As part of the renovations at the nature center, the building got new kitchen, drywall, lighting, insulation, and new floors.
But the focus of the facelift is the fireplace.
The Bowling Green Park and Recreation Department sent word out that it wanted the fireplace to have personality – not like the former 1970s red brick façade. So local residents were asked to donate interesting rocks for the fireplace front.
To create a conversation piece, park patrons handed over stones and items collected from around the world.
The fireplace includes rocks from Nome in Alaska, Rome, Normandy in France, and Michigan. There are also fossils, a snail from Germany and a mollusk from Texas. Some items came from close to home, like the piece of green Bowling Green glass.
There are also a few flat stones shelves jutting out on the fireplace front, making homes for a taxidermied owl and mink, and a set of deer antlers.
“The fireplace is amazing,” Chris Gajewicz, natural resources coordinator with the parks, said recently at a park and recreation board meeting.
The new kitchen will also be a welcome renovation for those who rent the facility. There is now a new refrigerator-freezer, plus upgraded electric service, with crockpot plugs lining the walls.
The interior renovations are the second phase of improvements to Wintergarden Park. The first phase involved the construction of a maintenance building with restrooms for public use. That part of the renovations was completed last year.
Both phases were paid for by the fundraising efforts of the Bowling Green Parks Foundation.
The nature center still needs new furniture, but Cinda Stutzman, natural resources specialist with the parks, is looking forward to showing off the renovations.
“Hopefully we can get people in here soon,” she said. “It’s a lovely facelift. We’re hoping, obviously, that it will be rented more frequently.”