Saturday, September 20 at 7:00 PM
Cocktails at the Historic Riley-
Heirloom Lane in Douglas)
$50 per person
This is a unique opportunity to get a glimpse inside
the well-preserved Riley-Slack-Ellis House, built ca. 1880 by
carpenter and joiner Thomas A. Riley*.
Join hosts Michigan Supreme Court Justice Bridget
Mary McCormack and her husband Steven Croley for a cocktail party in
their historic home. $50 per person
*Riley was killed in the Civil War, and his widow,
Fidelia, continued to live in the house after she married another
Civil War veteran, Anthony Slack. Subsequently, their daughter,
married to Claude Ellis, a lake ship's captain, continued to occupy
the house, thus keeping it in the same family for generations.
your ticket, REPLY to this email
and we'll be in touch.
Saturday, October 4 at 6:00 PM
An evening at DollyBrook Resort
$50 per person
DollyBrook Resort is a 2011 Heritage Preservation Award winner and a
must see for everyone. Park once and stroll the nine cottages at
your own pace. Each cottage will serve cocktails and one of the
following: Appetizers, Soups, Salads, or Dessert.
Mix and mingle with
friends and enjoy each cottage's fabulously unique decor featuring
local artifacts and antiques. The cottages will be hosted by
different members of the Society doing the cooking and serving up the
cocktails. Make this event a "must do" on your list of fall
your ticket, REPLY to this email
and we'll be in touch.
Saturday, October 25 - 7:30 PM
at the Old School House
$50 per person
The annual Halloween party has become a favorite for
many members and friends of the Society. This year's party will be
hosted by Sharon Kelly, Janie & Jim Flemming, Ken Carls and Howard &
Judi Vanderbeck. Don your costume (or not) and come
to the Old School House for drinks and dinner preceding the
fantastic Douglas Halloween Parade.
If you would like to reserve
your spot for one of these upcoming Dine Around
events, REPLY to this email and we'll be in touch.
Have you made your donation to
ArtsAlive! on behalf of the Historical Society
Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society is again participating in the ArtsAlive!
Voting Competition. Voting ends on September 2.
Thanks to community support, we finished in second place the past
two years and want to finish first this year.
These crucial funds helped underwrite the amazing new Pump House
Museum Exhibit, the Old School House and its Gallery, the Boathouse
and Back-In-Time Garden. Not to mention Monthly Meetings and Tuesday
Talks. Keep History Alive Here!
The Keep Your ArtsAlive! is
an arts and cultural competition of the Allegan County Community
Foundation. It was created to engage and encourage our community to
support the rich arts and cultural offerings we have in Allegan
County. Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society is one of 17
organizations competing this year. The organizations compete to see
who can receive the most votes.
Each vote costs one
dollar. 100% of each voting dollar comes back to us at the end of
the competition. Please vote for the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical
Society. Just go to www.artsaliveallegancounty.org
to vote on-line,
Welcome from Jack Sheridan and Chris Yoder, leaders
of the Society Family History Group. The Group's regular meeting
schedule is the first and third Thursday of every month. Upcoming
Thursday, August 21
Thursday, September 4
Please visit us to see what we are all about and
most importantly, share "lessons learned" about the many tools
available for family history research.
Browsing through my family tree last week I was
pleased with what I have amassed in fifteen years. My starting
point had been passed down from my parents both gone from this
world. There were many photos but little in hard facts. The
Sheridans were pretty much unknown before Aaron Sheridan, my great
grandfather who was born in upstate New York in 1834. My mother
was an Oberlin who had a family lore document telling of Oberlins
coming to Pennsylvania about 1730 but without solid information.
My grandmother Sarah was an Unwin who came from England in 1882 at
the age of four. Her father was a skilled steel worker who was
hired in England to come to the USA. He was a foreman making steel
rails in a Chicago mill. Sarah married George Henry Sheridan who
in 1909 became the Saugatuck lighthouse keeper. His father Aaron
and mother Julia Moore were lighthouse keepers on South Manitou
Island in the 1860s.
The tree contains 5893 people, a few lines go back
to the 1400s, 707 photos, and all but a few of my thirty two great
great grandparents. I am thoroughly British-Irish with a dash of
German from my mother. For ease of research I am lucky to have so
many ancestors who came to this country early on. It has been fun
and in the process, I have learned so much about the history of
our wonderful country.
Best of all, I have gained a real sense of knowing
where I came from.
Try it – and you will be rewarded!
Remember, your family history does not have to
have any connection to the Saugatuck-Douglas area!!!
Not sure how to get going? Let us provide a helpful
jump start by recording what you know about your parents,
grandparents, and great grandparents and send it along for a
review by Chris Yoder or myself. The snail mail address is SDHS
Family History Box 617 Douglas, Michigan 49406, or email a copy to
We will soon be back to you with readily found data
and with suggestions on the next steps to take. Further help is
readily available from the Family History group. Again, the only
requirement is membership in the SDHS.
Mayflower ancestor, Revolutionary War vet, great
grandparents? Still wondering? Questions/ comments/advice/needs -
269 857-7144 Chris Yoder
firstname.lastname@example.org 269 857-4327.
This news letter column is produced by Jack
Click on the picture for a
higher resolution copy
The Big Pavilion -
Death By Fire
Friday morning, May 6,
1960, a slow breeze out of the south, began turning to the
southwest. The Big Pavilion's 51st season opening
loomed three weeks away. Manager Jack Repp was out to tell the
Village maintenance boss Harry Newnham to turn on the water
and to negotiate the summer advertising rates with The
Commercial Record. From his Chicago office, owner Herb Shutter
ordered red paint for the summer paint job. Somewhere among
the thousands of light sockets and miles of 1909 wiring, a
malignant short sparked, perhaps . . .
The Big Pavilion began a
trip down death row. In the Hotel Saugatuck next door, Viola
Fox was tallying last night's receipts. The phone rang. From
across the river, the caller reported smoke coming from the
Pavilion. Vi punched an in-house direct line alarm button to
the Village fire hall. Minutes later, as chief Bill Wilson
smashed through the Dock Bar door, it was already too late.
Flames churned skyward and inky smoke boiled from the eaves of
the towering dockside wall.
The beloved barn was a
funeral pyre. The only doubt was how much of Saugatuck would
survive. In the end, a lucky wind swept blast furnace heat and
burning embers westward, out over the river and ten fire
departments, hoses streaming river water, were able to contain
the conflagration and save the town.
So in mere hours, a
Saugatuck legend, "the brightest spot on the Great Lakes" was
distilled to a heap of black ruble. The big red dance hall -
her birth, life and death were bigger than life – had passed
on. A brilliant burst of light and excitement, followed by the
wonder of it all . . .
Click on the picture for a
higher resolution copy
This newsletter column is written by Jack Sheridan.
Welcome New Members
We would like to welcome the following new members who have joined the
Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society since the last newsletter.
Ed & Barb Welk, Fennville, MI
Robert & Carol Leneway, South Haven, MI & Maricopa, AZ
Norwegian Civil War Veteran Found on History Website
by Jan Huttenstine
struck 1:00 am early one morning last April, as I stumbled
sleepily toward the laptop computer in our tiny home office in St.
Joseph, MI. After months of countless hours in library archives
and on ancestry.com, my husband Gary and I were left with basic
questions unanswered about his Norwegian immigrant
great-grandfather, John F. Baker. The family said he was born in
Norway in the 1840s and that he died in Douglas, MI in 1918. He
married and raised nine children, yet no family member knew about
his Norwegian family, the town of his birth, or his immigration
information. There was no obituary, no personal letter, not one
scrap of detail to shed light on his story. His Civil War cemetery
stone at Fennville Cemetery matched his pension records --- 8th
Illinois Infantry, Company B. His trades were blacksmith, carriage
trimmer, and teamster in a lumber yard—all good data, but we still
needed a link to his family to connect the events of his life into
a cohesive story. Early that morning last April we found it.
There it was -
John F. Baker's obituary on the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical
Society website! Born in Bergen, Norway in 1843, age 21 at
immigration, enlistment in the Civil War at Chicago, Cook County
IL, fought in the battles of Spanish Fort and Fort Blakely,
honorable discharge, and locations of family members. A week
later, we found that someone had scanned the entire 1916 Farm
Journal Directory of Allegan County. Bingo! Not only was John
Baker in Douglas on Fremont Street two years before he died, many
other family members were located. Thank you, Saugatuck-Douglas
Historical Society, and the members who create and maintain such a
wonderful history website. Hats off to your organization! Keep up
the good work!
story is still incomplete. He appears to have entered Allegan
County, Michigan around the time of the 1871 Chicago Fire.
Although he originated in Norway and spent time in Illinois, he
married Ida Josephine Barker in Heath, Allegan County in 1877. She
was the thirteenth of fourteen children born to Benjamin Willis
and Mary Coe Barker. They were pioneers from NY and CT who settled
in Manlius Twp. in the early 1850s. Two of Ida Josephine's aunts
married and moved to Allegan County in 1853 - Mary Jane Barker
married Elam Fenn, founder of Fennville, and Lydia Barker married
Hollister Marsh, who owned the Exchange Hotel in Allegan before
establishing businesses in Richmond, and later, a large farm in
Manlius near Willis and Mary Barker.
lumber business waned, John and Josephine Baker moved to Ganges
Twp. where they lived and worked on the Marion Loomis farm. Marion
was a son of Levi and Sally Loomis, and like John Baker, was a
Civil War veteran. Their youngest children attended Loomis School.
When the Loomis farm’s peach trees suffered blight and Marion
Loomis died, John himself was also aging. He and Josephine moved
to Douglas, where John died in 1918 while living on Water St.
overlooking the bay. He likely found it peaceful there and not too
different from his home in Bergen, Norway.
(Click on the image for a higher resolution copy.)
The John F. Baker Family - circa 1904, Ganges Twp.
Seated: (L to R) Lottie (Fred King), John
F. Baker, John F. Baker II (Inga Jorgensen), Ida Josephine Baker
(nee Barker), Bessie (Fred Young).
Standing: Blanche (George Randers),
Florence (Rufus Monique), Maggie ( Iwick - Beagle), Phoebe Anna
(Orrin Hadaway), George (Leah Sternaman), and Ida Virginia (Sam
A Fun Society Summer
Picnic Thanks to the Many Volunteers
Blue Coast Trio performing in the Old School House
Garden during the Society's summer picnic.
A big part of Society membership is all about
having fun. On Wednesday, August 13, on a beautiful night in the
gorgeous Back-in-Time Garden at the Old School House, we
celebrated Summer with our annual Member Picnic & Potluck. Good
company, great food and terrific live music from the Blue Coast
Trio. Thanks, Mark Schrock and the boys! Kudos to the hard working
volunteers who made it all possible . . . Ed Kelly, Leslie Thompson, Fran
Van Howe, Elliott Sturm, Judi Vanderbeck, Steve Hutchins, Kathy
Klage, Renee Zita, Vic Bella, Bill & Nancy Wood, Lonnie & Jolene
Jackson, Cynthia Sorensen and all those who helped. submitted by
2014 Monthly Programs and Tuesday Talks
September 10, Country
Life: The Felt Estate on the Midwest Riviera with Patty
Meyer Sponsored by Star of
Saugatuck Boat Cruises, Bruce & Marilyn Starring
October 8, Tales
from the Cemeteries with Kit Lane and Marsha Kontio
Michigan's Hottest Town Revisited with Mike Sweeney
December 14, Holiday
Party at the SCA
Gangster Stories: Fact or Fiction - Bring Your Story with Jim Schmiechen, Kit
Lane and the Audience
Val Atkin &
Osman Flowers and Firs
20th Anniversary of the
1994 Museum Exhibit
(Click on the image for a higher resolution copy)
This year marks the
20th Anniversary of the Society's first Exhibition at the
Pump House Museum. If you have pictures of the exhibits or stories
to share about the Exhibition, please REPLY to this email and
we will include them in next month's newsletter
"To forget how to dig in the earth and to tend
the soil is to forget ourselves." --- Mahatma Gandhi
The annual picnic was a
perfect time to showcase the accomplishments in our garden. We hope
everyone enjoyed our new additions. Our Peach Orchard will now
explain a little about our history in agriculture through our fence
detail. Our slate boards will soon inform visitors about schoolyard
games of the past, and FINALLY our appreciation for all Jim
Schmeichen has done for our Society is noted on the Architectural
Station. Many, many, many thanks to all who helped.
New slate boards at the Old School House Back-In-Time Garden
John Migas is always being
asked to "do this and do that" and he always pulls through with
amazing work. Kristi Mueller and Jim continue to amaze us with their
creativity, and our fence would never have happened without the help
of Kathy Van Tubbergen.
Artist Kathy Van Tubbergen stencil painting the
Peach Orchard fence.
One more huge thanks to Dottie
Lyon, Richard Lucier and all who helped in cleaning up the fence
area. We will now be able to install perennials this fall. Speaking
of perennials, nice job, Lee Ver Schure, on your perennials gardens.
You are truly an artist!
The Landscape Committee would
like to welcome and thank Mark Neidlinger for joining our group. He
will be a great addition to an already amazing group of artists.
Our first ever Root Camp
finished with a bang. Our last session was full of butter churning,
honey tasting, water filtering fun! We are so thankful to our junior
counselors, sponsors and the Historical Society for backing us on
this new adventure. Just wait 'til next year!
Root Camp kids In Francis (Gallinipper) life boat at History Center
life saving shipwreck exhibit.
Until next month,
The Landscape and Root Camp Committees
In the last issue of this newsletter we asked for
information about Bill Lankton, the builder of the Swift Villa
The Swift Villa Model
The following information was sent in by his wife,
Lynn. Bill Lankton (the Rev. G. William Lankton) was born in
Detroit, MI on January 20, 1925. He had a talent for art and his
high school years were spent at Cass Tech in Detroit where he
majored in art.
After graduation in 1943, he immediately joined the
Army Air Corp and served during WWII until the end of the war. In
1947 he entered the College of Wooster in Wooster, OH and majored in
After graduation in 1951, he married Lynn Wunder,
entered McCormick Seminary in Chicago and was ordained in 1954.
HERE for a Memoriam to Bill Lankton prepared by the
McCormick Theological Seminary
Bill had always been interested in camping. While in
high school and college, he attended many camps sponsored by the
Presbyterian Church as well as working at the camps.
After his first year of Seminary, he and his wife
Lynn volunteered to be summer recreation leaders for the Synods of
Wyoming and Idaho. After graduation from Seminary, Bill was called
by the Board of National Missions of the Presbyterian Church to be
Minister of the Mountainview, Wyoming Presbyterian Church and to
develop preaching points in southwestern Wyoming and northern Utah.
While there, he also directed summer camps for the Synod.
In 1957 he was invited to become the minister of the
Presbyterian Church in Holly, Michigan. While there he directed many
summer camps for the Synod of Michigan and started "Wilderness
Camping" for Senior Highs, leading trail hikes on Isle Royal and
canoe trips on the Tahquamenon River in upper Michigan.
In 1966, the Chicago Presbytery invited him to be on
their professional staff as part of their Christian Education
Department as well as Director of their camp in Saugatuck, MI. The
camp was a three season camp until the 1970's when Glen Graham of
Shorewood raised money to build five winterized cabins and Bill
directed winter weekend groups as well as groups in spring, summer
Bill was very aware of the fragile dunes and always
emphasized the need to care for them. He was instrumental in
planting dune grass and teaching campers to respect and care for the
The camp was started in 1899 by a Methodist minister,
the Rev. George Grey. It was a place where intercity mothers and
children could come for a rest from the heat of the city as well as
a place where families could rent cabins. The model of Swift Villa,
the first dining hall & living quarters was made by Bill Lankton.
The Swift meat packing family sponsored the building of Swift Villa.
Swift Villa burned in the early 1960's.
Hotel "Swift Villa" at Camp Grey, Saugatuck, MI
In 1913, the Methodists sold the camp to the
Presbyterians. Bill had the longest record in the camp's history as
Director - from 1966 until his retirement in 1990.
There were three sections to the camp. Camp Grey
bordering the Oval beach, Westminster Woods in the center section
and Camp Kema bordering Shorewood. Three different programs ran
A new dining hall and kitchen was built in1966. Food
was taken to the other two areas in thermal units and served by camp
staff. The summer staff usually numbered between 25 and 30 people.
Most staff were college age. Bill's son Mark was 13 when the family
came to the camp in June 1966. Mark became resident manager and
lived in Tanglewood cabin from 1974 to 1994. He also had the record
of being the person who served the camp the longest as resident
manager. Mark designed and built the Camp Grey sign with help from
Lee Voigt that the Society purchased for the Old School Hosue
Bill died at his son, Mark's home in Port Orford, OR
on May 2, 2014. Presbyterian Camp was a place that Bill could use
his many talents - a "dream job" for him. He loved the concept of
using all available resources to accomplish a task and cherished
helping people to value the natural world.
The camp was sold for development in the spring of
2014, a very sad day for many campers and the Lankton family. Bill
died recently and his ashes were scattered by his family on the
trails to and from Mount Baldy, as well as at the summit. Bill led
many hikes along those trails during his years as camp director.
Know Where You Will Find a Historical Society Photo
In March of this year, I received
a phone call and subsequesnt email from Salvatore Basile. He was in
the process of completing a book on the history of air conditioning,
to be published by Fordham University Press. While searching for
illustrations, he came across the photo of the Airdome Theatre on
the Society's website, wanted to include it in the book.
Saugatuck's Airdome Theatre ca 1912 on Water Street north of the
Thanks to Jack Sheridan, a copy of
the requested photo was sent to the author. In accordance with
Society's publication policy, we were reimbursed and also requested
a copy of the book when it was published.
Never expecting to hear from the
author again, much to my surprise, an autographed copy and lovely
thank you note arrived in the mail in the mail last week.
If you are interested in some
bedtime reading on the history of air conditioning, REPLY to this
email and I will loan you the Society's copy.
submitted by Fred Schmidt
June 6, 1912
contributed by Chris Yoder
(Click on the image for a higher resolution copy.)
Thanks to John Fox for sharing
this photo on the "You know you're from Saugatuck when . . ."
FACEBOOK site, AND with the SDHS.
"One from the vault . . . Back of
pic is written by hand . . . Mildred & Jeanette's Party June 6,
1912. Beginning at left they are- Lois Bennett, Hope Shriver,
Dorothy Field, Elita Bird, Rabecca Puley, Margaret Lossmieler,
Pauline Kreager, Dorothy Miller, Beatrice Brown, Jeanette W.,
Dorothy Pfaff, Natalie Reed, Florence Brittaine, Edith Hayes,
Mildred Cummngs, Hellen Perry, Aldean Pear. - My guess is most names
lost and forgotten.- John Fox"
Mildred Cummings (daughter of
George Cummings, who in 1914 was to become Captain of the South
American passenger boat) and her cousin Jeanette Walker (daughter of
the town doctor whose memorial is in the Saugatuck Village Square)
were the hostesses for this 1912 party of young Saugatuck ladies.
Mildred's mother had died the previous year and in 1913 her father
would marry again. As of 1934, Mildred worked for the Board of
Education in Detroit. Jeanette was to grow up to marry Dr. Arnold
Many of these young ladies moved
away and lived elsewhere in later life, but some returned to be
buried at home in the Riverside Cemetery, including: Lois Bennett
Monroe (1904- 1992- foster sister of Johnson Fox); Jeanette Walker
Barr (1902-1979); Hope Shriver Dickson (1902-1979); Elita Bird
Graves (1897-1991); Beatrice Brown Finch (1907-2005); and Edith
In later years . . .
ABOUT THE SOCIETY
To become a member or renew
your membership select from the following categories:
Send check payable to the Saugatuck-Douglas
Historical Society to: PO Box 617, Douglas, Michigan 49406. You can
for a Society Membership Application.
Send items for the newsletter to: Fred Schmidt, PO
Box 617, Douglas MI 49406 or email
Historical Society Museum Exhibit Celebrates
Area's Duneland Treasure
This year's all-new exhibition at the
Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society Museum offers a multifaceted look at the Kalamazoo
River duneland and its archeological, historical, environmental,
social and recreational significance, in contrasting tales of change
and permanence. The Museum is open daily from noon to 4 pm through
Labor Day and then noon to 4 pm on weekends through the end of
Titled "Dunelands: Footprints on the Sand", the
exhibition celebrates our piece of the world's largest freshwater
dunes system in the world, according to Museum Curator Dr. James
Schmiechen. "It's a marvelous collaboration of restless beaches,
rolling forests and ravines, hidden streams, ponds and marshland
habitats," he says. "This exhibition tells of how they came to be,
how human activity has changed them and how people have changed in
response to them, while giving special attention to historic sites
scattered across the area and how history has set the stage for
today's vibrant local community."
Researched and written by Schmiechen, and designed by
Society volunteers Judy Hillman and Sally Winthers, the exhibition
pulls together an array of photographs, artifacts and stories, set
before a sweeping 50 x 10ft. mural dunescape captured by local
photographer James Cook, intended to visually transport the viewer
Informative wall panels weave text and graphics
together to view the dunes from three different perspectives: The
Preservationist's Notebook surveys 12 nearby "critical dune"
sites with an eye toward "best use" protection of the natural
environment while allowing appropriate public access; The
Photographer's Notebook presents aerial views of local shoreline
geography by Chicago photographer Bill Werme, documenting changes
resulting from both natural and human causes; The Archeologist &
Historian's Notebook, recalls the late 1800s "lumber rush" that
disregarded nature, creating millionaires but sentencing the village
of Singapore to its ultimate burial by shifting dunes.
Another series of wall panels presents a compilation
of photos taken along dune trails, accompanied by hiker quotes
revealing personal impressions and expressing thoughts inspired by
their duneland experiences.
Centerpiece of the exhibition is a simulated "Dunelands
Trail", marked by trail-stop signposts showing and describing a
variety of sites encountered on an imagined hike through the dunes,
including: Dune Rides; Goshorn Lake & Dune; New Harbor & Basin; Old
Harbor & Lighthouse; Fishtown; Oxbow Art School & Lagoon; Pier Cove;
The Oval; Mt. Baldhead; and Lake Shore Chapel.
Hovering above it all is "Beachcomber's Folly" a
whimsical-while-thought-provoking hanging sculpture by Saugatuck
artist Ted Reyda. The colorful composition was meticulously
assembled from thousands of items that were washed up on local
beaches and collected by Reyda over more than 20 years. Below, Reyda
transforms other types of manmade flotsam into spherical standing
artworks. In their own playful way, all serve to raise serious
questions about human carelessness regarding our environment and
disregard for protecting nature's gifts. Museum guests will find
themselves silently drawn to interact with Reyda's art by
identifying its components...sometimes obvious, sometimes not.
Augmenting the Historical Society's exhibits is a
video display created by the Saugatuck High School students of art
teacher Christa Wise, inspired by the work of British sculptor Andy
Goldsworthy, known for combining natural materials such as twigs,
stone, thorns, mud and pinecones into temporary in-situ
constructions that weather the elements and return to nature.
After watching "Rivers and Tides", a 2001 documentary
featuring Goldsworthy at work, the class set out to Oval Beach and
the dunes to create site-specific sculpture and land-art using
whatever they found. Their short video, in the style of "Rivers and
Tides", documents the students' efforts to follow in Goldsworthy's
footsteps, in the process discovering (in the words of one student)
"how difficult it is to even begin to approach the quality of his
--- Award-Winning Books Highlighted ---
Continuing the Society's tradition of offering books
created to accompany exhibits past and present, the Museum's south
gallery gift shop this year highlights two of its most popular award
winners -- The Village Table: A Delicious History of Food in the
Saugatuck-Douglas Area; and Off The Record...the unpublished
photographs of Bill Simmons.
The Village Table, authored by Society
volunteers Kit Lane and Stacy Honson with graphic design by Sally
Winthers, won a 2012 Leadership In History Award of Merit from the
American Association for State and Local History (AASLH). It
celebrates the Saugatuck-Douglas area by exploring its food: what
the settlers found, what was fished, what was gathered and grown,
what each wave of newcomers brought, what the restaurants served to
visitors, and what we eat today. Each chapter focuses on a different
aspect of the food scene and concludes with a selection of menus and
recipes that favor locally-available ingredients.
Cues for the recipes came from history, and some
less-palatable historical dishes, like the infamously dry Johnnycake
(a cornmeal flatbread), are served up with a modern twist such as
delicious cornbread French toast. Local restaurants and businesses
contributed the recipes in chapter seven “On the Menu.” The final
chapter “Cooking Local” presents a wide range of family favorites
from Historical Society members. This 144-page book, richly
illustrated in color with lay-flat binding, also features separate
historical and culinary indexes.
Off The Record, written by James Schmiechen
with help from Society volunteers Kit Lane and Jack Sheridan, and
designed by Ken Carls, received a Historical Society of Michigan
Award of Merit in 2001. It offers a fascinating pictorial history of
Saugatuck in the'40s and '50s seen through the eyes and camera of an
insatiable photographer whose skills ran the gamut from art
photography to photojournalism. Simmons (1891-1966), worked for The
Chicago Evening Post and Time-Life, Inc., later was editor of The
Commercial Record for 10 years in mid-century. He left a collection
of some 3000 unpublished photos, mostly negatives, shot in and
around Saugatuck from 1941 to 1961.
SDHS received the long-lost collection in 1998, and
discovered that its images witness the changing geography of the
waterfront and village streetscape while connecting us with life in
the mid-1900s in an unusual way. Unlike most photographers, Simmons
was not interested in getting people to pose, preferring to catch
them off-guard, being themselves, in conversation, at play, absorbed
in thought or responding to events around them. As a result, his
work shows how ordinary people interacted with each other, the
village they lived in and the land they lived on.
The 157 photos selected for this book represent many
hours of research and writing by many SDHS volunteers, as well as
the townspeople they interviewed, plus extensive efforts in printing
old negatives, digitizing photos, and pulling it all together into
--- Interactive Map Tells Stories ---
The south gallery also features the Society's popular
"SuperMap" -- a 6-foot high, 12-foot wide illustrated color wall map
of the Saugatuck-Douglas area with an interactive computer display
to provide a virtual tour through these historic villages,
highlighting significant people, places and events of both past and
present. Map artwork, created by Holland artist-cartographer Mark
Cook based on Historical Society research, recalls the entertaining
illustration/poster maps of the 1940-50 era, combining street
layouts with stylized sketches and notes.
The map offers Museum visitors an engaging way to
soak up the story of the Saugatuck-Douglas area. As many as 70
map-highlighted references are keyed by number to let visitors
select and learn about sites of interest by calling up information,
narratives and images using several video/interactive touch-screen
terminals near the map. The screens also offer topical "interactive
programs" such as History of Hotels/Boarding Houses; History of
Boatbuilding and Boat Builders; Buildings and Architecture; Artists
and Painting; Local Biographies; History of Saugatuck-Douglas
Schools; 13 Tales of the Villages and A Video History of Saugatuck
In addition, the terminals allow public access to the
Historical Society's digitized archives of historical photos, pages
of The Commercial Record dating back to 1868, the
Saugatuck-Douglas Building Survey and more.
Article and photos submitted by John Peters. Click
on any photo for a higher resolution copy.
is open daily from
noon to 4 pm through Labor then on weekends in September and October
from noon to 4 pm. Click
HERE to learn more about the Museum and
recent past exhibits.
The Old School House History
Center and Lifeboat Display, located at 130 Center Street in Douglas, is open
Thursday through Sunday from 11 AM to 4 PM. For group tours or to
schedule another period, please contact Steve Hutchins at
616-801-3735 or by email at
The Society's Technology Center is located in the
lower level of the Old School House History Center at 130 Center
Street in downtown Douglas.
Society Phone: 269 857-5751
Museum Phone: 269 857-7900
Tech Center Phone 269 857-7901
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