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FORMER TURVILLE POINT RESIDENT DIES

FORMER TURVILLE POINT RESIDENT DIES

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The family that gave its name to Turville Point -- and unhappily sold its Lake Monona homestead to the city of Madison -- said goodbye Monday to Henry Q. Turville.

Turville, 76, who died March 1, grew up on the point, the fourth generation of English gentlemen farmers since the first Henry Turville came from England in 1850.

Early generations of the family farmed the point, and had a boat-building business there. Capital Times columnist Alexius Baas described Henry L. Turville, Henry Q.'s father, rowing across the lake to Downtown Madison, his boat loaded with flowers from his greenhouse that he would sell as bouquets near the end of South Hancock Street.

Over the years, the family built several stately homes on the point. One family home, owned by Jessie Turville Twaites, and her husband, Reuben Gold Thwaites, head of the Wisconsin Historical Society, hosted presidents Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt.

Meg Turville-Heitz, a Cambridge writer and Henry Q. Turville's daughter, remembers growing up on the point in the 1960s. It sounds like an idyllic childhood, with the lake, Indian effigy mounds, woods and fields to explore. But the city was pressing in.

"My first year of school, I walked to Franklin (Elementary) School," she said. "But the next year (1967) they had to bus us because the (Monona Bay) causeway had opened."

In 1967, Dane County was building the Coliseum across the street. Frank Lloyd Wright's plan for "the Monona Basin" envisioned Turville Point as the site of a civic auditorium, linked to a Downtown civic center by a promenade and fountains. That plan never happened - although a scaled back Monona Terrace was built in the 1990s - but the City Council still voted to condemn Turville Point for public use.

A scrapbook kept by Henry Q. Turville, which mourners paged through at Monday's funeral, was full of news clippings from the 1960s. Although just a child then, Meg Turville-Heitz remembers feeling as though "the world was against us."

"We lived there until May 1968," until the family sold to the city for $895,000 and moved to a farm near Stoughton, Turville-Heitz recalled. "I remember I was playing outside when the logging trucks came."

While she said her father didn't dwell on bitterness from the forced sale, the final clipping in his scrapbook is a newspaper photo from 1974 that shows an unkempt Turville Point, with a mountain of beer cans piling up against the foundation of one of the family homes.

Henry Q. Turville remained active in the Lion's Club, and at St. Dunstan's Episcopal Church, where he was on the building committee. The church altar is mounted atop a boulder from Turville Point and the baptismal fount is carved from the point's rock.

The family's legacy remains alive in another way. Visitors who hike the point in early spring will see the woods dotted with the yellow and white blooms of narcissus, escaped from the Turville greenhouses and into the wild.

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