CARTER P BROWN LEGACY PRESERVATION FUND, a charitable tax-exempt 501(c)3 entity

The 125 year history of Castle Park has been remarkable, but there has never been a tax-exempt foundation, fund or legal entity that was able to accept charitable gifts, bequests from estates, wills or planned giving as way to ensure that Castle Park sustains its historic and natural legacy for future generations. Now, there is. The Carter P Brown Legacy Preservation Fund has been established and recognized as tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

The purpose of the Fund is to preserve and restore historic buildings and grounds within the Castle Park Reserve and promote the conservation and protection of both the wildlife habitat and environmentally-sensitive “back dunes” of the surrounding area. As possible examples:
• Preserving the unique outdoor Greek amphitheater circa 1922.
• Preserving and/or restoring the historic aspects of the Castle, Post Office, Meeting House, Ebenezer’s Barn, and other Carter P. Brown buildings.
• Leading land conservation efforts, environmental protection, and preservation of the wildlife habitat of the dune area surrounding the premises.
• Exploring recognition of the Castle and other historic buildings on the National Registry of Historic Places.
• Protecting or purchasing forest and shoreline habitat such as the Hope College Nature Preserve which includes 55 acres adjacent to the southeast of Castle Park.

Carter Pennell Brown arrived in Castle Park in 1893 when he was still baby buggy age. As a boy, he worked for his uncle, Mr. Parr, at the Castle, which was then functioning as a hotel for visitors who would arrive in Macatawa by boat from Chicago for the weekend. In 1897, the area now known as Castle Park was platted. This was followed by the First Addition to Castle Park in 1899 and a resubdivision in 1901 including the open land, denoted as the Castle Park Reserve, which still exists today.

In 1900, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was written by L. Frank Baum in neighboring Macatawa. It has been noted by his surviving family that he found inspiration for his book and the iconic yellow brick road from the Castle in Castle Park.

For more than half a century, from 1917 to 1974, Carter P. Brown and his beloved wife Marion Wilkie Brown created in Castle Park a place of tangible heritage with a grace, style and spirit that have endured the passing years. Over these six decades, “Mr. Brown” lovingly preserved and expanded the campus preserve with various improvements, including creating a gracious facility in the Castle, an outdoor amphitheater, and designing numerous other cottages and buildings of historical significance. He was a visionary, providing landscaping, architectural design, and stylistic direction in the other buildings and natural common areas that we enjoy today.

Under Carter Brown’s management, the 40-acre reserve of Castle Park became home to a nine-hole golf course, the second oldest in western Michigan. It also hosted the Castle Park Horse Show from 1920 to 1967, the oldest amateur horse show in western Michigan. The reserve still features tennis courts where Alonzo Stagg Jr. served as a tennis pro from 1947 to 1955 followed by Harry ‘Cap’ Leighton, the inventor of the ball machine, from 1955 to 1966. In 1922, the unique Greek amphitheater was constructed on the Castle grounds. It was designed by Wellington J. Reynolds, an artist and instructor at The Chicago Art Institute. ‘Sir Josh’ had been a regular guest at the Castle since 1913.

Beginning in 1974 and continuing until 1995 the property was gradually sold to the Castle Park Association which has been entrusted with maintaining Carter P. Brown’s legacy and preserving the buildings and landscape of Castle Park including the Castle, Amphitheater, Post Office, Barnswallow, Ebenezer’s Barn and the Castle Park commons.

A century of challenge has shown us the pressures that can come to bear on our heritage and natural surroundings. Thankfully, our community has consistently rallied in the past to relieve those pressures. The Fund is a vehicle through which all of us can preserve the legacy of historic and natural preservation through tax-deductible cash, stock or other asset donations, estate plan bequests, pension or insurance benefits, or other forms of planned-giving to preserve Castle Park for posterity. All the Fund’s resources are anticipated to come from charitable contributions and private giving.

The Fund is a nonprofit corporation recognized as tax exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, as amended, and consequently gifts are tax deductible to the extent permitted by law. The Fund is independent of the Castle Park Association and is not a substitute for dues, assessments, or other capital needs that the Association may determine. The Association may, however, make application to the Fund to assist with historic or preservation needs.

Now is the time to fund the Fund for the future. Interested parties should contact their tax advisor, financial advisor or estate planner to establish the Fund as a beneficiary of an estate, life insurance or other planned giving. More simply, show your support by sending a check made out to “Carter P. Brown Legacy Preservation Fund” care of Bob Burton, 6660 Audubon, Holland Michigan 49423 as a donation.

For further information, contact any of the Directors.
Dick Muzzy (
Bob Burton (
Steve Nobel (

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