“Mary B, Madison’s Legendary Iceboat” Film Released

“Mary B, Madison’s Legendary Iceboat” Film Released

Screen shots from the documentary film.

Is there a better way to cool off on a sweltering summer day than by streaming a film about iceboating? Strap on your virtual helmet and creepers and watch Mary B, Madison’s Legendary Iceboat on demand, or order the DVD. Details here.

The 43-minute documentary film, produced by Donald P. Sanford, Gretta Wing Miller and Aarick Beher for the Ice Boat Foundation, Inc., tells the story of this Madison icon, the men who built and raced her and the efforts of the Foundation to restore and preserve her. It uses recently restored archival footage and interviews with sailors and Foundation members.

The DVD and the download include these special features:

  • The Stuart Cup
  • The Hearst Cup
  • On the Ice with Mr. Wright
New Mary B Ice Boat Foundation Website

New Mary B Ice Boat Foundation Website

Announcement: We are pleased to announce a new Mary B Ice Boat Foundation website!!
iceboatfoundation.org

 

The Ice Boat Foundation, Inc., current owners of the famous Mary B, announce the launch of our new Mary B website iceboatfoundation.org

 

We’re thankful for the great design work of Deb Whitehorse and everyone who provided photos, videos and content. We’re especially thankful on this day for all of our supporters who provided the funds to help us purchase and restore the fastest piece of Madison history. If you haven’t made a contribution to the effort, you’ll find a place on the website to do that.

 

Mostly though you’ll find stories and photos that tell the story of Madison’s famous iceboat, the Mary B.

 

And a special thanks to O.T. Havey, Frank O. Tetzlaff and Carl Bernard. Without that dream team there would be no Mary B.

 

See you on the ice.
Don Sanford

Who was MARY B?

Who was MARY B?

MARY B draws a crowd on Lake Monona in 1952

The Dane County Historical Society Newsletter has published an article by our own Don Sanford about the historic stern-steerer MARY B.

The Mary B was fast, really fast, but just who or what was she? A racehorse, a track star, or maybe a downhill skier? None of the above, she was an iceboat…She was the dream of one of Madison’s largest electrical contractors and public-spirited citizens, Orvin “OT” Havey.

Read the whole story here.

Frank Lloyd Wright & Iceboating

Frank Lloyd Wright & Iceboating

The Charles Bernard Boathouse Stern Steerer iceboat fleet on Lake Mendota. Frank Lloyd Wright’s elementary school is in the background. Though the photo dates from 1895, Wright would have seen the same boats on Lake Mendota back in the 1880s. Photo from the Bernard scrapbook collection.Notation by Carl Bernard.

On the anniversary of the great architect, Frank Lloyd Wright’s 150th birthday, the Madison Children’s Museum is hosting a 3 day event that will include an exhibit dedicated to the iceboat models he made as a boy. The exhibit dates are June 7 – 10. Learn more about it at their website.

Wright moved to Madison when he was 12 years old in 1879 and lived near the Bernard Boathouse, the center of ice sailing on Lake Mendota. He attended Lincoln School which was also on Lake Mendota, a few doors east of the Boathouse, where stern steerers gliding across the lake would have been a common sight. What a distraction and inspiration that must have been for the students!

Model iceboats made by William and Carl Bernard.

One of Wright’s biographies mentions that he made model iceboats as a boy. Though none of Wright’s boyhood iceboat models exist, a sophisticated model made by William Bernard (and restored by Bill Mattison) is in the collection of the Wisconsin State Historical Society. Read about that on the WSH website.

I suspect that Wright, along with many boys in the neighborhood, would have spent time at the Bernard Boathouse watching Charles and William build boats. It would have been an exciting place for a boy with an inclination to become an architect.

 

The roof of the Unitarian Meeting House.

We know from a recording of Carl Bernard in the Wisconsin State Historical Society archives that when he was in Madison, Wright continued to drop in on the “boys at the Boathouse”. It could have been at the Boathouse where learned of master carpenter and iceboat builder, Frank Tetzlaff, famous for his part in building the MARY B stern steerer. In the early 1950s, Wright’s complicated roof design for Madison’s Unitarian Meeting House was proving difficult to build. It was Frank Tetzlaff who  “helped translate” Wright’s plans.

Frank Lloyd Wright, much like the aviator Charles Lindbergh during his brief stay here, was drawn to the sport of iceboating and the people in Madison who were obsessed with building and sailing them.

 

1934 Northwest

1934 Northwest

Madison’s iceboating history is all around if you know where to look. The FRITZ is still remembered at the former Bernard Boathouse on Gorham St. on Lake Mendota.

1934 Northwest

In the mid 1930s, stern steerers were still the only class that sailed in the Northwest. The 1934 Northwest A class title was captured by the Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club FRITZ, a boat built by Frank Tetzlaff, owned by Fritz Jungbluth, and piloted that year by Carl Bernard. The boat would go on to win the Northwest A Stern Steerer title for a total of 7 times. There’s enough history about this boat for a book to be written. Here are some articles about that regatta and links to some history. Apologies for not having the time this morning to write a more deserving in depth report on this boat.

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