Felt Mansion backdrop of magical Eloquence Day

Douglas Elementary School holds its annual event for fifth-grade students.
A Douglas Elementary School fifth-grader reacts after entering the Felt Mansion ballroom through a portal from The Chronicles of Narnia — The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe on Thursday, April 18, 2024 as part of Eloquence Day.

Douglas Elementary School students stepped through the coats hanging inside the mock-wardrobe crafted at the Felt Mansion on Thursday, April 18, 2024, and entered the snow-covered pine-lined path for the 13th-annual Eloquence Day meal.

Forty-four fifth-graders participated in the “Narnia – The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” themed event in the mansion, 6597 138th Ave. in Laketown Township, that included a four-course meal in the third-story ballroom, scavenger hunt and photo session.

A parent volunteer serves Douglas Elementary School fifth-graders at the Felt Mansion on Thursday, April 18, 2024 as part of the annual Eloquence Day.

About the day

Eloquence Day is a way to teach students manners and etiquette. The Saugatuck Public Schools students wear semi-formal attire such as jackets, ties and dresses.

“Over time, the event has evolved, with parent volunteers sharing their many talents. Each year a theme is determined, which guides the decorations and menu options,” said Casey Lokker, event organizer and staff member from Douglas Elementary.

This year, decorations included the wardrobe and trees as well as quotes from author C.S. Lewis. The four-course meal included items named after the characters including the first course called “Lucy’s Choice” of soup, second course of “Susan’s Regal Salad”, entrée “Peter’s Noble Nibbles” (roasted chicken) and dessert of “Edmund’s Crowned Jewels.”

Last year’s theme was “Adventure in Wonderland.”

Douglas Elementary School fifth-graders enjoy their meal at Eloquence Day at the Felt Mansion on Thursday, April 18, 2024.

Working together

“Parents work together and in partnership with local businesses to put on an event that rivals most small weddings. Students often reflect on their school experience during graduation and list Eloquence Day as one of the most memorable experiences of their school career,” Lokker said.

Donors for this year’s event include the Felt Mansion, Phil’s Bar and Grille, Wick’s Park Bar and Grille, Isabel’s Market and Eatery, The Farmhouse Deli and Pantry, Third Coast Church, Burger King of Saugatuck, West Michigan Pediatric Dentistry, Old Pike Cottages, Dellavechia Dental, Saugatuck Drug Store, Dr. Willenburg, Dr. Anthony Berger of Lake Michigan Dermatology, Ivy House, Little Red Dentistry, Laurie Birkholz, MD and Associates and St. Peter’s Church.

A Douglas Elementary School fifth-grader enjoys dessert while reading the menu at the Felt Mansion on Thursday, April 18, 2024, as part of Eloquence Day.

The mansion

The 25-room Felt Mansion was completed in 1928 by Dorr Felt, inventor of the Comptometer, a basic adding machine.

After Felt’s death, the property was purchased by the St. Augustine Seminary for a school then, in the 1970s, by the State of Michigan to use as a prison. After the prison and Michigan State Police post that was in the mansion closed in the 1990s, Laketown Township purchased the property.

The mansion has been restored to its 1920’s grandeur and is now a top destination for weddings and features a summer concert series.

For more information, visit www.feltmansion.org.

A Douglas Elementary School fifth-grader checks his pocket watch at the Felt Mansion on Thursday, April 18, 2024, as part of Eloquence Day.
A volunteer gets desserts ready at the Felt Mansion on Thursday, April 18, 2024, as part of Eloquence Day.
A Douglas Elementary School fifth-grader reacts after entering the Felt Mansion ballroom through a portal from The Chronicles of Narnia — The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe on Thursday, April 18, 2024 as part of Eloquence Day.
The entrance to the Felt Mansion ballroom on Thursday, April 18, 2024, as part of Eloquence Day.
A quote from The Chronicles of Narnia — The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe on Thursday, April 18, 2024, as part of Douglas Elementary School’s Eloquence Day.
A quote from The Chronicles of Narnia — The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe on Thursday, April 18, 2024, as part of Douglas Elementary School’s Eloquence Day.