Ruth Teuscher wrote that she bought Hawthorn Hollow at the suggestion of her sister Margaret as “a place to have picnics.”
Racine schoolteachers Ruth and Margaret spent their weekends here at Hawthorn Hollow picnicking and camping in what is now the amphitheater. To enhance their camping they built the fieldstone fireplace and wood burning oven and grill, along with various canvas over-night shelters.
Three years prior to purchasing Hawthorn Hollow Ruth had bought her first horse (Suntan) and was boarding him at Malvin Johnson’s riding stable on Wood Road. She began collecting some extra money from her textbook royalties and decided to build a stable to have the horse live at her own place. Early in 1940 Ruth was put in touch with Peter Clausen of Wellbilt Homes. (Peter Clausen would also be the general contractor to build the main residence.) Ruth had some pictures from magazines and some of her own sketches, but Peter drew up his own drawings much to Ruth’s admiration. They began construction in June of 1940 and Suntan was moved in October 20th of the same year. It must not have been 100% complete, because Ruth wrote:
“One day in October I complained to Peter that my job wasn’t getting the attention I thought it should. For some minutes he was silent, looking a little hurt. Then he replied soberly, ‘If it’s done late, you will forget that. If it’s not done well, you will never forget that.’ I have thought of that remark hundreds of times in the last forty years. That was Peter, all integrity and wisdom.”
Ruth had six horses, Suntan, Dolly, Lucky, Fireglow, Sheba, and Major. Major was the last one she owned and had lived the longest in the stable and pasture for 24 years. Ruth could no longer take care of him and at 28 years old he was put to sleep in January of 1981. That summer the stable began its transformation to what is now known as the H. Chris Hyslop Nature Center.
After the stable was built they began construction of what was affectionately called the Shanty. This wood cabin type structure was located just west of the stable on the main trailhead right before the garden. At first they spent most of their weekends in the Shanty, then with additions built on, their summers, and in the early to mid1950’s almost all of their time when not at their teaching jobs. The Shanty was torn down in the early 1990s.
In 1956 they built the present residence, sold their house in Racine and moved to Hawthorn Hollow permanently. This red brick two story colonial was built of the finest materials to match the existing style of the stable.
Ruth was a disciplined bookkeeper, and recorded that the house was built for $54,911.54. Carpentry labor at $3.50 per hour offers some explanation as to the modest expense according to today’s standards. The residence today is the home and office of the Director of Hawthorn Hollow. In 2009 a grant was received from the Mary Frost Ashley Charitable Trust to further enhance and maintain this fine structure.