Apostle Islands Historic Preservation Conservancy

Established in 2006, the AIHPC is a community-based nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of the many historic properties and cultural landscapes in the Apostle Islands region on northern Wisconsin.  Beginning with a core group of families who hold longstanding property interests in historically-significant buildings on Sand and Rocky Islands, in some cases dating from the late 1800′s, the Conservancy represents a wide range of interests throughout the Chequamegon Peninsula.


Facebook Feed

Today in Chequamegon history: happy birthday to Elvira Sproat Hutchings, born at LaPointe on this date in 1842, daughter of missionary Granville Sproat and his wife Florantha. Elvira spent her first three years on Madeline Island, then returned with her family to Massachusetts in 1845 when the mission shut down. In 1854, several months after her father decided he was called to preach to the gold miners and set off to California, she boarded a clipper ship with her mother and ten-year-old sister for the seven-month journey around Cape Horn to join him in San Francisco.

After several years in California, her father left the family to join the Shaker sect in upstate New York, and mother Florantha supported herself and her daughters by opening their home to boarders. Among the guests were James Mason Hutchings, an explorer and entrepreneur who was a member of the first white party to visit Yosemite Valley. At the age of 17 she married the much older Hutchings, then moved with him to Yosemite to open the valley's first hotel.

Elvira was an artistic sort, and seems to have taken after her father in her restless personality. During the winter of 1868-69, Mr. Hutchings traveled to Washington to attend hearings on the creation of a Yosemite park, leaving his business affairs to the care of an employee, a young Scottish immigrant by way of Wisconsin. The young man shared Elvira's interests in the natural wonders of the valley, and the two became close friends – some said TOO close. The precise nature of their relationship will probably never be known for certain, since upon his death, the employee, one John Muir by name, directed his heirs to burn the pile of Elvira's letters that he'd saved.

Elvira eventually left Hutchings to follow her own dreams elsewhere, but Florantha, stayed in Yosemite with her former son-in-law to look after her three grandchildren and help him run the hotel. Elvira eventually gained some renown for her watercolors of Yosemite scenery, and died at her daughter's Vermont home in 1917.


Collected and edited by Bob Mackreth for the Apostle Islands Historic Preservation Conservancy, a community-based nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of the historic heritage of the Apostle Islands region of northern Wisconsin.
... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook