About Helen and Ben Swenson

An artist and an innkeeper wanted to preserve Wing Haven forever. ACRES Land Trust members make this possible. You can help.

When it came time for Helen Swenson to leave the land she loved, she worked with ACRES to ensure that it would be protected forever. You can protect natural treasures by becoming an ACRES member.

The Swensons surrounded guests with the unhurried rhythms of nature

While managing Potawatomi Inn at Pokagon State Park from 1937-1948, Helen and Ben Swenson purchased 400 nearby acres as their homestead. They lived here, on part of that land now preserved by ACRES, in cabins built from reassembled logs. On land adjoining the northwestern edge of this preserve, they built and operated Wing Haven Resort. There, Helen used her artistic talents to decorate each guest house in the colors of birds native to the region. After Ben’s death in 1954, Helen continued to operate Wing Haven Resort for 15 years.

Helen Swenson had an artist’s eye and a fierce devotion to this land.

In nature, Helen saw art everywhere. In her artist’s studio, she created paintings that captured the splendor of budding flowers and the rich colors of the earth. Helen’s greatest joy was to introduce others to the beauty and quietude of nature

“I have always found more satisfaction in knowing a few things intimately than a lot of things briefly.” -Helen Swenson

An artist and nature lover, Helen revelled in the joy of small experiences on this land — the return of favorite birds after a quiet winter, nursing a damaged tree back to life, or marveling at the thousands of trilliums that bloom here each spring. Helen Swenson remained at her beloved Wing Haven until her death in 1983.

A gifted artist, Helen was inspired by the ever-changing colors of her beloved Wing Haven. She rarely sold her paintings and photographs, preferring instead to give them away.

Browse the gallery below full of artwork, pictures of Wing Haven, and more.