Michael Samack, building restoration chairman for the Bass Lake Indiana Lions Club, says he is enthusiastic about restoring the club’s headquarters.
“We are housed in a great old place that used to be a school building,” Samack says. “The building is 101 years old and is still standing. They don’t make places like this anymore, and that really says something. This place has stood the test of time, and just keeps on going. You have to love that. It was built to take a lot and last.”
Samack, who is also a landscaper for the property, says the Bass Lake community, and residents of the surrounding area, have helped to keep the building going.
“We are in the only school building left in Indiana with outside privies, which are basically outhouses,” Samack says. “We had a recent visitor from the Indiana Historical Society who really wanted to see the school building, but he was also really interested in seeing the outside privies. Of course they haven’t been used in many years, but they were also built to last.”
Samack, who is known as “Smilin’ Mike,” notes that the school was built in 1920.
“It was called North Ben Township School,” Samack says. “It was in Winona, Indiana, and then was the Winona School of North Bend Township later on.”
Samack said the building was a one-room school for many years. A basement room was added later.
“The school closed some time in the early 1970s,” Samack says. “The Bass Lake Indiana Lions Club has been the caretaker of the building for the last 23 years.”
Samack, who is a Melvin Jones Fellow, one of the highest honors bestowed upon a Lions Club member, says the Bass Lake Lions Club has been around for a long time.
“It was formed on August 28, 1948, as the Lions Club of the area,” Samack says. “We have enjoyed a lot of wonderful members and memories over the years.”
Samack says Lions Club organizations across the world are still going strong.
“We are the world’s largest service club,” Samack says. “We are well-known for taking care of sight-impaired people. We also work to help speech- and hearing-impaired people, among the many other positive things we do. We have a lot of dedicated members who want to make things better for a lot of people.”
Lions Clubs are also known for making big problems smaller, and improving communities. There are more than 45,000 Lions Clubs, and 1,350,000 members worldwide.
“It’s just an outstanding organization that helped so many people around the world,” Samack says. “We do a lot to help around the world and locally as well.”
Samack says the Bass Lake Indiana Lions Club also provides dictionaries to third-grade students.
The club is raising money to continue the restoration of their building.
“We have been doing a lot of drive-through lunches at the building,” Samack says. “People love to come by and get a nice delicious lunch to go. We have a lot of regulars who like to come by and get their lunch on their work lunch break, or to take home to enjoy.”
Samack says club members plan to have tuck-pointing done on the building. Tuck-pointing is a way of using two contrasting colors of mortar in the mortar joints of brickwork, with one color matching the bricks themselves.
“It’s a great way to upgrade the appearance of an interior or exterior brick structure,” Samack says. “Bricks are solid, but the mortar gets a lot of water and tear over the years. Tuck-pointing really helps. This will really help the building look better. A lot of care and hard work was put into making this building, and a lot of people have put in a lot of effort to keep it standing. We want to keep this great place going for years to come.”