2013 Exhibition Special Members
Preview Saturday, May 25 | 5:30 - 7:30
Saugatuck-Douglas History Museum
735 Park Street, Saugatuck
at the foot of the steps to Mt.
"The Mount Baldhead Show"
Reception & Preview
"The Mount Baldhead Show -- an artistically diverse exhibition
interpreting its landmark namesake through the talents of SD Middle
School eighth-graders invites Society members to a private reception
and preview on Wednesday, May 15 from 6 to 8 pm. at the Old School
House History Center.
The show features exhibits created by 78 students of English teacher
Christina Lewis, exploring their impressions of Mt. Baldhead and its
history in artworks that include paintings, sketches, models,
mobiles, dioramas and videos.
Accompanying the exhibits are "observation poetry" (based on visits
to Baldhead), "presentation poetry" (reflections on a classroom
presentation and stories by local historian/author Kit Lane) and
"picture poetry" (perceptions prompted by historical photos from the
Historical Society archives).
The exhibition will be open for free public viewing from Thursday,
May 16 until Monday, June 10, 11am-4pm daily at the Old School
Society's New President
Saugatuck's Sharon Kelly has been elected
president of the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society, succeeding
outgoing president Marsha Kontio. Kelly is an attorney who by her
own description has "managed to figure out how to live in
Saugatuck and practice in Ann Arbor". Owning a home here for about
10 years, she has been a full-time resident for the past two,
becoming increasingly active in the community. She was elected to
the SDHS Board in 2012, and wrote the successful $12,000 grant
awarded to the Society by the Michigan Council for Arts and
Cultural Affairs this year (2013). She also is a member of the
City of Saugatuck Planning Commission.
Having graduated magna cum laude from
Nazareth College, she received her Masters Degree in Russian
History from the University of Michigan and obtained her law
degree from the University of Detroit School of Law where she
graduated summa cum laude. Her practice focuses on divorce
matters, particularly those cases involving complicated economic
Winthers and Sorensen Win Top Annual
Sally Withers has received the Saugatuck-Douglas
Historical Society's top-honor Charles J. Lorenz Award of
Achievement for 2013, and Cynthia Sorensen has won the Society's
Volunteer Of The Year Award. Both are Saugatuck residents.
The Lorenz Award was established by the Society in
1997 to honor the memory of Charles Lorenz, who gave generously of
his time, talent, money and energy in the formation and
development of this organization. Winners are selected each year
by a special Society committee, recognizing distinguished
leadership in fulfilling the Historical Society's mission to "help
the community understand its past and use its history to shape its
future and preserve its quality of life".
Winthers, a former Society Board Secretary, was
cited for her wide-ranging and freely given assistance in many
Society activities, including: designer of both the 2012 edition
and the soon to be published 2013 Historical Chronicle
"newspapers"; member of the "Save the Barrel" committee; designer
of the Society's Around the Village Table
award-winning cookbook; a long-time member of the Museum Design
Team; producer of the school locker display and graphics in the
"Back-in-Time" school room exhibit at the Old School House History
Center; 2010 Ox-Bow Heritage Festival Co-Chair and Design Chair
for 2011 Douglas Heritage Festival; designer and producer of the
last two Membership Directories; designer of posters and logos
designer for many SDHS projects and programs.
The Volunteer Of The Year Award honors outstanding
service to the Society. Candidates are nominated by standing
committee chairs, with current Board members excluded from
eligibility, and winners are selected by majority vote of the
Sorensen's selection for this award recognizes her
many years of active participation as a Historical Society
volunteer, always willing to stuff envelopes, mail out
newsletters, make cookies, and in general be of help to anyone who
is in need. More recently she has worked with the archives team of
Mary Voss and Ken Kutzel and devotes Mondays to the good of the
Saugatuck Douglas Historical Society. For several years her name
has come to the forefront as a candidate recipient and this was
her year to be honored.
2013 Society Monthly Programs
At the Old School House History Center
June 12: Our Local Farmland Forecast: A 2013 Crop Report and Some
Ideas for Your Table by David Geen of Hungry Village Tours who
talks us through the country with local growers about farm
conditions and what to expect at this fall's markets.
July 10: Low-Key Genius: O.C. Simonds and his Pier Cove
Simonds was one of America's most important landscapers - and had an
enormous impact on our West Michigan. Meet the author, Barbara
Gieger. Wine & cheese social time.
August 14: Eat Your Way to the Top Annual Picnic at the
History Center. Celebrating the Garden's Mt. Baldhead Viewing
Station. Note early starting time: 6:00
September 11: Now and Then: Great Lakes - Hot Topics Long
time Great Lakes observer Patty Birkholz brings past and present
views of our greatest local asset - the water. Swimmingly delicious
October 9: Tales from the Crypt: Visitors from the Ghostown of
Plummerville (Ganges Township) Led by Kit Lane and Marsha
Kontio, a virtual tour by the Cemetery Actors Group. Refreshments to
November 13: Painting: the Town: Landscape, the Artist, and
People by Ken Kutzel who brings stories from the Society's art
December 1: Annual Society Holiday Dinner 6:00 pm. At the
Saugatuck Center for the Arts. Kick off the Holiday Season. Good
cheer, Great Food, Good Friends.
If you would like to sponsor one of the Monthly Programs, please
REPLY to this email. Sponsorships are $150.
Thanks to the Society members who donated to the Old
School House's Daffodil Trail this Spring
Janeen & Glenn Fowler
Lori & Keith Hayward
Joel & Pat Hoitenga
Welcome from Jack
Sheridan and Chris Yoder leaders of the Society Family History
Group. Our meeting schedule is the first and third Thursday of
every month. Upcoming meetings are:
Thursday May 16
Thursday June 6
Thursday June 20
The time and place are
always 3:30 in the Old School House
Please join us to see
what we are all about and most importantly, share "lessons
learned" about the many tools available for family research.
last three months I have told you about my Ancestry.com DNA
analysis. I am getting a steady feedback of 40-50 possible
matches each week. No EUREKA! moment to
report yet. Stay tuned.
am I so enthused about family history? Here is a quick summation:
Satisfy my innate curiosity – what went on here?
Knowing this history was somehow an extension of my self
enables me to pass on something very lasting to my family
love puzzles and family history is a gigantic one
Learning my family history sharpened my knowledge of U. S.
enjoy having my diligence and patience challenged
Think about it and remember if you to learn more about your family
history, but have not known where and how to begin, our SDHS
Family History group wants to help you.
An easy starting point is to record what you know about your
parents, grandparents, and great grandparents and send it along
for a review by our volunteers to SDHS Family History Box 617
Douglas, Michigan 49406, or email a copy to either
firstname.lastname@example.org. Give us time for an initial
assessment. We will soon be back to you with readily found data
and with suggestions on the next steps to take. Future further
help is always available from the Family History group. The only
requirement is membership in the SDHS.
Your family history does not have to have any connection to the
Still wondering? Questions/comments/advice/needs: Contact me at:
email@example.com or 269 857-7144. Chris
firstname.lastname@example.org is back from Arizona so his great help is
Click on the picture for a higher resolution copy.
There is no historical record of a Kalamazoo River bathing beach
close to town. Not even a photo record of swimming for fun off local
docks. Hmmm. I can guess a few probable reasons. The river bottom
was muddy and the water was a convenient place to dump stuff. The
first village water system was built in the early 1900s. An ample
supply of fresh water naturally required a sewer system to dispose
of the wastewater. Most homes had their own septic tank [my
Grandmother had one next to the house on Culver Street] but there
were no drainfields, so some of the excess found it’s way to the
river. I have memories of that certain smell of the river in the
1940s and 1950s - enough said.
The present day Oval Beach road was constructed in 1936. Prior to
that the best way to reach Lake Michigan was by boat down the river.
Prior to the 1906 new channel the bathing beach was located right
where it is today. After the new cut was made and until the Oval
Beach completed in 1936, the bathing beach was on Lake Michigan next
to the new piers or back up the river in an area known as the
“Basin”. Surprisingly the nasty stuff from up river had dissipated
enough to make swimming possible.
The water taxi business was good in those days as evidenced by many
photos of the taxis [see example above ca 1915]. The taxis were
30-40 feet in length and carried a couple dozen passengers round
trip for two bits each. They left from various docks on the shore of
Kalamazoo Lake. The service made for a great excursion and swim on a
nice summer day.
Next month we head back up river.
Click on the picture for a higher resolution copy.
Welcome New Members
We would like to welcome the new members who have joined the
Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society since the last newsletter - an
l Jerry & Ann Longerot,
l Joni Cook, Saugatuck,
l Suzie Blair, South
l Lawrence Gammons &
Carl Jennings, Douglas, MI
l Barry & Susan McKey,
Grand Rapids, MI
And members who renewed their membership as Life Members.
l Bud Baty & Max
l Ken Carls
l Jim & Kat Cook
l Stacy Honson & Dick
Have Your Ticket Yet?
An outgrowth of a Historical
Society Program three years ago, the Saugatuck-Douglas Armed
Forces Day Luncheon is an opportunity to come together as a
community to honor our servicemen and women, past and present.
The luncheon will be held
Saturday May 18 from 11:30 to 1 at the Douglas Community Church on
Wiley Road. Veterans eat free (but must get a ticket). Get your
tickets at either Vicki's Restaurant in Douglas or the Pump House
Gym in Saugatuck.
The theme this year is WWII
and Jim Schmiechen will present a special program on "The Dope",
the Douglas Newsletter sent to our boys and girls in uniform
around the world. Please come and bring a friend. -contributed by
Dining Around The Village
the Arts Home Tour
Sunday, June 30, 2013 | 1 to 5pm
Tickets $40 per person
Hosted by B.J. Silverstone
2450 Lakeshore Drive, Fennville
You won't want to miss this one! Come stroll the home, gardens and
grounds of B.J. Silverstone's eclectic Fennville home, nestled in a
wooded 5 acres on a bluff overlooking Lake Michigan at 2450
Lakeshore Drive, a bit north of M-89. The house, hers since the
1960s, has been extended over the years to include a two story
studio, rambling rooms and decks, with a rustic interior decorated
in barnwood, stone and shingles, wood carvings, ceramics, metalwork,
art and curious artifacts, expansive yet cozy and inviting, a
fascinating feast for the eyes.
Colorfully costumed docents will greet and direct guests, while a
variety of appetizers and sweets will be served, along with wine,
beer and spirits including new Red Streak Hard Cider donated by
Fennville's recently established Virtue Cider.
In the studio, two cabaret shows (2pm and 3:30pm) will present
music, magic and drama performed by area theatre guild members, with
B.J. herself as Master of Ceremonies.
Roaming the grounds you'll come across a badminton court, wildflower
garden with a gazebo and frog pond, plus a 100-year-old log cabin
"playhouse" and guest room, with some of its original furnishings.
You'll also encounter twelve plien-air artists at work, and have an
opportunity to bid for their works in an auction at 4:30, with the
proceeds donated to the Historical Society. At the bluff's edge,
enjoy a deck view of the lake and beach below. An electric taxi will
be available for those needing help moving around the property.
Along the bluff adjacent to the Silverstone property, the
home/studio complex of the late artist Bill Olendorf will be open to
party guests, exhibiting a selection of his last paintings. On the
central deck of the complex, a six-piece student jazz band from
South Haven High School will provide a musical ambiance for the
With all food and beverages donated by event hosts, guest charges
will support the Historical Society's volunteer-based programs and
activities including exhibitions at its Pump House Museum in
Saugatuck and its Old School House History Center / "Back-In-Time
Garden Pathway" in Douglas.
For information and reservations,
269.857.5751 or e-mail
Tuesday Talks are arranged by the SDHS Program Group. Direct
questions and or suggestions for 2014 to Jim Schmiechen at
l July 2: Mike Sweeney, Michigan’s Hottest Town. Procol Harum,
Alice Cooper, and others invade Saugatuck.
Sponsored by Janie & Jim Flemming
l July 9: Elizabeth Chodos, Ox-Bow: Living In Sand For Over 100
Years. Monty Collins & Jerry Dark
l July 16: Kimberly Hall, Climate Change and West Michigan.
l July 23: April Scholtz, The Secret life of the Blanding Frog
and Other Duneland Nature Stories
l July 30: Ken Kutzel & Dave Ball, Saugatuck and Douglas Art
Discoveries & the Art of Restoration.
Sponsored by Larry & Shirley Akins and Floyd Fleming
l August 6: The State Park Hikers, To the Dunes: Photos Stories
from A State Park Hiking Group. Sponsored
by Sharon Kelly and Janie & Jim Flemming
l August 13: Mary Jo Lemanski, Looking at Dune Formation as
Abstract Art. Sponsored by Beachway Resort,
Doug & Debbie West, and Robin Bauer, Realtor, Shoreline Realtors
l August 20: Jack Sheridan, Beach Stories: Low Water, High
Water and Beach Life. Sponsored by Star of
Saugatuck and Terry Burns
l August 27: Kit Lane, Goshorn Lake. Is it really bottomless?
Sponsored by Osman Flowers & Firs and
Howard & Paula Schultz
If you would like to sponsor one of the Tuesday Talks, please
REPLY to this email. Sponsorships are $150.
Introducing the 2013 Young Scholars
This year's "Young Scholars" (L to R) are Troy Prill, Casey Walle,
Kelsie King and Christopher Aldridge, accompanied by intern program
coordinator Bill Underdown. Intern Jessie Meengs was absent during
The 2013 Young Scholar Interns have arrived for the summer at the
Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society. Interns include Troy Prill,
Jessie Meengs, Chris Aldridge, Casey Walle and Kelsie King.
Each intern is going to focus on their area of expertise this summer
as well as keep the Old School House open from 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. 7
days a week beginning after Memorial Day.
Troy Prill is the business and finance intern. He is a senior at
Central Michigan University where he is studying finance. He will be
working on a business plan and budgeting.
Jessie Meengs is a recreation, parks and leisure major at CMU. She
is beginning her senior year as well. She will be the coordinator
between the Saugatuck Center for the Arts and the SDHS.
Chris Aldrige is a 2012 graduate of Central Michigan University
where he majored in journalism. He joins the SDHS after interning at
The Flint Journal. He will be working to promote summer events and
Casey Walle is a senior anthropology major at Western Michigan
University. She will be working on archiving as well as help with
the distribution of SDHS newspapers.
Kelsie King is a senior at CMU studying public relations. She will
be the ArtsAlive! coordinator and focus on the planning and
execution of the White Run with a Splash of Rainbow.
Mentor and internship coordinator Bill Underdown will oversee each
intern and act as a coach throughout the summer.
submitted by Kelsie King
Nature and Historic Walks
The docents of the
Saugatuck Harbor Natural Area (SHNA), sponsored by the city of
Saugatuck, are offering a series of hikes and talks about the
Historic and Natural History of the area in and around the SHNA for
the 2013 season. Unless otherwise noted, the walks begin at the
North End of the Oval Beach parking lot.
June 2 Sun Eve, 7:15 p.m. Exploring the Saugatuck Harbor Natural
Area (SHNA). Leader: April Scholtz from the Land Conservancy of
June 9 Sun. 9:15 a.m. Birds of the SHNA. Leader: Local
bird expert, Rick Brigham
June 27 Thurs eve., 7:15 p.m. Exploring the Old Harbor from the
South side of the SHNA. Meet at Mt. Baldhead Leader: Kay Smalley
July 11 Thurs 7:15 p.m. Geology and
Ecology of the SHNA. Leaders: Brian Yurk and
from Hope College
July 25 Thurs eve: 6:45 p.m. View
from Crow’s Nest - Vistas of the Saugatuck Harbor Natural Area.
Meet at Mt. Baldhead, Leader: Frank Lamb
Aug 8 Thurs eve: 6:45 p.m. Exploring the South side of the SHNA.
Meet at Mt. Baldhead, Leaders: Kay Smalley and Connie Deam
Aug 22 Thurs eve: 6:30 p.m. Historic View of Saugatuck from Mt.
Baldhead. Meet at Mt. Baldhead, Leader: Jack Sheridan
Sept 15 Sun eve:6:30 p.m. Exploring the Saugatuck Harbor Natural
Area. Leader: April Scholtz from the Land Conservancy of West
Douglas Garden Club Plant Sale at Old School House on Saturday, May
The Saugatuck Douglas Garden Club
is pleased to announce its annual plant sale on Saturday May 18 from
10:00 to 2:00 at the Old School House. We are very excited to have
our sale at the Old School House this year and hope that you will
come and support us.
Proceeds from this sale benefit
our scholarship program which is given to a high school senior from
Saugatuck High School and/or Fennville High School who meet our
requirements of majoring in the Horticultural Sciences in college.
The garden club also contributes to Christian Neighbors, Frederik
Meijer Gardens, Grace Health Facility, the Old School House gardens
and annual flower beautifications in the cities of Saugatuck and
Douglas. We are also Horticultural Consultants for the city of
The sale will include beautiful
hanging baskets, flats of annuals, many geraniums and perennials. In
fact, the perennials come from our own members yards so they are
tried and true. We will also have our members there to answer your
So mark your calendars for
Saturday, May 18 and join us for a fun day. submitted by Jane
Weed House Update
I ran across an article in your
online newsletter that the old Weed House on Lake Shore Drive is in
danger of demolition. It was dated,
September 2012. Has it been demolished yet? I can only say
that letting such a historic building be destroyed instead of
restored is a crime against history and humanity. The house may be
one of the largest remaining examples of "western history" in all of
America. It was a stop on the underground railroad as slaves escaped
Some say the house was haunted by
old Mrs. Weed. While I do not believe in ghosts, my family and I can
account for a series of unexplainable occurrence. She will not take
kindly to those who destroy her ancestral home, I fear. (Just
kidding --- I think).
I tried to preserve and restore
it, as best I could. I was always amazed that the disregard the
local community have for historic preservation. I hope it still
exists --- and somehow can be saved.
submitted by Larry P. Horist
Response from Jim Schmiechen
Larry, thanks for your message
regarding the Weed House. I (we) share your concern. I have taken
several people to it and have had indirect recent contact with the
owner (she will give it away for removal).
I was lucky to find someone to
take the old Gerber house here in Douglas and move it and restore it
and have had one party interested in same with the Weed House.
I will put notice to this effect
in the Society newsletter as an up-date. We know how much effort and
restoration you accomplished at the Weed House and hope it does not
all go to waste. Jim Schmiechen
What's Up With The Barrel
Perhaps you've been wondering
about the status of the Root Beer Barrel project. Even though it
appears that this endeavor is taking longer than the building of the
replacement for the Twin Towers, rest assured that the dismantled
barrel is resting safely in a barn south of Douglas.
The resilient barrel salvaging
committee is presently working with the City of Douglas and other
essential parties to secure a permanent relocation on the Blue Star
Highway. Two possibilities are being considered. Stay tuned!
Memorial staves are still
available for $150 each. Please REPLY to this email if you are
interested and we will be in touch.
submitted by Vic Bella
Historic Tree Taken Down
Mather Feed Store
The Tree in 2009
In a 2009 issue of the SDHS
newsletter, we told the story of a tree which had been growing at
curbside on Water Street in Saugatuck for over 100 years. About
1907, Dan Willard Mather, dug up a sapling on the side of Mount
Baldy, came down the hill and rowed back across the river to plant
it in front of what had been his grandfather's feed store (now the
Boardwalk Cafe at 311 Water St.). Dan W. was the father of SDHS
lifetime member Stanley Mather, a WWII veteran living in St, Joseph,
Recent damage revealed a hollow
internal core, and the tree has now been taken down. Click
HERE for our earlier story.
submitted by Chris Yoder
Daffodils Come Out In Area
Prior year bulbs bloom at Taylor Cemetery
Last fall would have been the third time for our
volunteer bulb planters in their "D4" efforts (a "Dozen Daffodils
for the Dearly Departed"). We had been selecting folks in the
Douglas, Riverside and Taylor Cemetery who either had no family,
or whose family has left the area, and planted daffodils obtained
by either donation or inexpensively in bulk at Sam's Club.
Unfortunately, no bulbs were to be found from our usual sources,
so nothing was added to the three cemeteries before the winter
Springtime did not disappoint, however, as we saw bulbs placed two
or even three falls ago, lift up their heads in bright array. We
shall give it another try this fall.
submitted by Chris Yoder
Edith Winter &
During the past month to
local and long time members of the Society passed away. For more
details on Edith Winter, click
and for Dorothy Otto, click
Saugatuck Summer Art School
The letter and article below were provided by
Norm Deam. Credit is given to the
blog of Miss Moss from South Africa, Wallace Kirkland and Life
These are great photos by Wallace Kirkland (a good
friend of my family) at Ox-Bow in 1948, the summer before my senior
year in high school.
They really portray the idyllic atmosphere of
painting at a time and location that brings back fond memories.
Please read the forward about " looks like a dream to me" and "man
were these girls in the 40s awesome".
One of those dishes was my sister Mar Deam (Severt)
who is in the first and second (Left) rows of photos in the 2-piece
outfit with her hair tied up in a pony-tail. She's in a few others,
I think: row 4 L (hair down, blue jeans), 6 L (same), 8 R (I think
that's instructor Rudy Pen with his foot up on the bench that Mar's
on, and our cousin Carol Soderberg (Rosenak) standing alongside.
Carol is also on the right in the 3rd row of pictures, and maybe
others.) I think Mar is on the lake dune in white shorts painting
left of the model (rows 16 & 17), and maybe that's my brother Ed in
17 beyond the canvas of a male painter in the left foreground.
That painter in a flowery dress sitting on a log in
6 R may be Frances Badger, long-time store-operator (painting
supplies in the Waldorff-Castoria on the Lagoon, and mother of Phil
Bornarth, instructor). On the right in row 19 with 2 people in
front of a car, I think that's Hank, long time OB handyman and
sometime class model who swore so much when he worked at the
Lighthouse that my mother would take us kids to Lake MI. I remember
the face but not the name of the woman who's showing him his
portrait. In the background of the previous photo, you can see the
remains of the "Crow's Nest" (a log cabin built by Tom Tallmadge)
sliding down its hill. Also in the last photo in the old truck that
was on left out on the OB grounds for years, that may be John Geister beaus of both Mar and Carol (in a mid-summer swap that I
won't go into). I don't remember that model Doris Fisher with
cigarette on the running board. I must have been too busy rowing the
Ferry boat to town.
I'm sending this to a bunch of people to get
additional info from my generation, and to show younger ones an
atmosphere that should not be forgotten. Ox-Bow (then with my father
as president) still retains a great sense of identity.
Who put these shots together?
Who is "Miss Moss"? Anybody know?
post script Toni Jones, from South Africa,
was President of the School of the Art Institute Chicago for maybe
10 years. I'll forward his email. Suzie Gilbey, the sister of Kay
Smalley thinks the woman displaying the portrait to Hank was Gussie,
whose real name might have been Augusta Ann Swaywite. Gussie sounds
Saugatuck Summer Art School
Wednesday 10 April, 2013
when i was compiling
yesterday’s post about
i came upon these photos taken by Wallace Kirkland for
the photo essay shows scenes from a summer art school in 1948, and
after a bit of googling i discovered that the school in question
situated in the Saugatuck area of Michigan, and was established over
a century ago.
Walter Marshall Clute,
The School of the Art Institute of Chicago,
Ox-Bow was to serve as a respite for artists from the
industrializing havoc of Chicago. Today, Ox-Bow’s longevity is due
to the strength of this mission and the artists who have held true
it all looks like a
dream to me – hanging out, drawing and screenprinting and making
ceramics and taking boats across the lake to do plein air painting
--- a dream! and man were these girls in the 40s awesome. i love their
rolled up jeans and casual white shirts. saugatuck summer art school
looks pretty damn cool.
this last photo was taken by Loomis Dean in 1949. “Nude Model Doris
Fischer smoking cigarette as she takes a 5 minute break from posing
for a half hour for students at Oxbow, The Art Institute of
Chicago’s summer school