THE HISTORY OF BAY CITY’S NATE AND MARY IDA DOAN SANTA HOUSE
IN SANTA’S OWN WORDS
The Santa House that I visit each year in Bay City was built in 1920, from logs purchased from Sterling Lumber Company of Bay City. It was originally built to be an office on Fifth and Adams Streets. In the early 1950’s it was moved to the south end of Wenona Park, which today is the parking lot for the DoubleTree. In 1991, a couple of my friends, Jim Leonard and Kathy Rothfuss, thought that it would be nice to have a House for me to visit with the children in Bay City. They came across this vacant log cabin down in Wenona Park and got permission to transform it into a ‘mini North Pole!’ I was able to first see children there in the Fall of 1991 and continued to see children there through 1997 Christmas season. At that time, the DoubleTree Hotel was going to be built so we had to move my House! So during the season of 1998, we were in a small room in the former Kresge Building on Center and Washington, meanwhile my Santa House sat on blocks in the Wenona Park awaiting it’s BIG move across the Saginaw River to the west side! From the Fall of 1998 into the Spring of 1999, we had the lot at the south end of Veteran’s Memorial Park cleared and prepared for the arrival of my Santa House. It was an amazing site to see my Santa House go over Vet’s Bridge, down the service road near the sledding hills, and make the tricky turn onto JFK Drive. Look at the pictures showing how that was done! My volunteer helpers then had to maneuver my House under the Veteran’s Bridge, past the Community Center, and around the curve to where it currently sits. We had many local union members volunteer their time to help us get the Santa House settled in this new spot.
After the Santa House was in place on it’s foundation, we had volunteers come in to remove inside walls to transform the building from several small rooms to one large room as it is today. Our first Christmas season in our current location was 1999. The volunteer helpers were able to retain all of the original wood from the inside room walls so that we can utilize it for projects as they arise. One example of our use of this wood is the hanging train tracks and tressel that the children of all ages enjoy watching our toy train move around the track inside the House!
For most of the years since our move to Vet’s Park, I have been able to bring a couple of my reindeer to visit. I am hoping that this tradition can continue, but I have to be sure that my loyal companions are healthy and ready for the big night.
I really appreciate all of the effort that my volunteer helpers put into getting my Santa House ready for my visit each year. It takes A LOT of volunteers year round to prepare everything inside and outside of the Nate & Mary Ida Doan Santa House.
I look forward to seeing all of you again this Fall. I will be arriving the Saturday after Thanksgiving at 6 P.M. I will be there each weekday evening from 6:00 PM to 8:30 PM. Plus on weekends I’m there – Saturday and Sunday afternoon from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM, including evenings from 6:00 PM to 8:30 PM. I’m at the Santa House every year through December 22nd.
Then on December 23rd, I have to head back to the North Pole to get ready for my trip on Christmas Eve to see all the children! Until then, I hope to get positive reports – from my scout elves – about good behavior and respectfulness of children of all ages!