The new executive director of the Felt Estate is ready to put her skills with nonprofits to work for the historic facility in Laketown Township.
Elizabeth A. McEwen was recently hired for the full-time position that opened after current Executive Director Patty Meyer announced her retirement effective in October.
“With the retirement of founding Director Patty, this is a unique time in the history of the estate. I am excited to leverage the skills I’ve gained throughout my nonprofit career to help the Felt Estate transition into its next phase of growth,” McEwen said.
Meyer is pleased with the selection.
“Beth has proven herself to be a capable and knowledgeable leader. I’m so happy to know that the Felt Estate – my baby – will be in good hands during this next phase of its life. Beth will be a great asset to the estate.”
McEwen’s first day is Sept. 18.
McEwen was one of more than 30 applicants for the position.
“Elizabeth McEwen stood out because of her experience in three area nonprofits with fundraising, events, and managing, and working with volunteers,” said Bonnie Lowe, president of Friends of the Felt Estate, the group that oversees the mansion. “She was relaxed, prepared, knowledgeable, and personable at the first and second interviews. Beth had outstanding recommendations from her references.”
McEwen is Ottawa County Program Manager for Girls on the Run West Michigan where she’s been since 2017. She was project coordinator at Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women, client services liaison with Paws with a Cause in Wayland and monthly contributing writer for Women’s Lifestyle Magazine.
“I’m so excited for the all the possibilities and will certainly be connecting with the community in the coming months to seek out opportunities to grow our program options. In the spirit of Dorr E. Felt himself, I am eager to find ways for the Felt to become more accessible to the local community,” she said.
“The estate may not be quite as large as it was back in the 1920s, but there are still many opportunities to encourage engagement within Laketown Township and the surrounding areas.”
The building is at 6597 138th Ave. in Laketown Township.
The 25-room, three-story Felt Mansion was built in 1925 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.
Meyer led the restoration of the mansion, taking it from a rundown building to a premier historical site and community event and wedding center.
Meyer will lead a special guided public tour at 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 10.
This will be Meyer’s final public guided tour. It will feature beer, wine, and refreshments, plus a question-and-answer time and door prizes. Cost is $40. Tickets available Eventbrite.com. Coupon code MEMBER2023 for $5 off admission price.
More about McEwen
McEwen has been hiking the lakeshore area for years and watched as the mansion restoration took place.
“I have always admired the grounds but was never inside the mansion or carriage house until this year’s summer concert series. The estate really is such a local gem, I can’t believe I hadn’t explored it sooner!”
She noted the 100-year anniversary of the mansion is ahead.
“The centennial anniversary of the mansion is quickly approaching, which presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to celebrate the Felt family and the estate’s place in local history.”
McEwen of Grandville is a mother of a blended family of six children. Her oldest daughter is serving in the U.S. Navy and her oldest son is attending culinary arts school. She has a child studying computer science at Michigan State University, two high-schoolers, and a child in middle school.
“Add to that my four dogs and three cats, and one can probably imagine the frenetic energy that is my home life,” she said. “I look forward to my time at the estate as a comparatively peaceful opportunity to focus on the mission of preserving history through preservation of the estate as well as protecting the environment through the responsible use of natural resources.”
For more information, visit the Felt website at www.Feltmansion.org.