Monday, August 16, 2010
Purple martin birdhouses
The beloved martin house from the very elaborate Victorian style to the humble, purpose driven abodes, has become a mainstay in the cottage garden. We love them for their simple functionality and as a wonderful addition to our landscapes. Growing up, most of us had someone in the family with "bird hotel" high on a pole in their back yard. Mine was my Pawpaw Shamhart. I can remember him telling us kids about the martins and why he had a special house just for them as they have a voracious appetite for mosquitos.
What many of us don't know is the man who turned the martin house into a cottage industry. J.L. Wade and his antennae factory were approached by the local Jaycees to build aluminum birdhouses to solve the insect problem in the small midwest town of Griggsville, Indiana. Mr. Wade's resulting creation allowed owners to raise and lower their martin house, maintained 6x6x6 compartments for nesting (too small for starlings) and were made of shiny aluminum to deter undesired birds.
In 2006, he sold his company, which by then employed about 50, to Erva Tool & Manufacturing Co. of Chicago.
"He put the city of Griggsville on the map of the state of Illinois," says Mayor Goewey, who, like most of the town's residents, had relatives on the company payroll at one time. When bird house production was shifted to Chicago in March, he adds, "That was a bad day and the end of an era."
J.L. Wade 1913-2007