SAUGATUCK (MI) MAY 30, 2006 -- An
eight-foot tall "thermometer" sign has been mounted on the front lawn of
the Douglas-Union School (a.k.a. "The Old School House") to display the
progress of a fundraising campaign by the Saugatuck Douglas Historical
Society to buy, preserve and rededicate the building as a unique new
Discovery Center, in a cooperative effort with the area's District Library
and Public Schools known as "The Old School House Project". The sign also
serves as a prominent reminder of the urgent need for community support of
this important project.
Targeting a purchase option agreement to be exercised in September of this
year, the Society already has received a matching grant for $425,000 and
raised $150,000 in donations toward matching it. The Society projects a
total fundraising goal of $1,110,000 to provide for renovation and
on-going operation in addition to purchase, and urges area businesses and
residents to contribute toward the preservation of this distinctive
Historical Society volunteers (l to r) Al Lyon, John Peters and Tom Anthrop
relax after installing the fundraising progress sign on the Old
School House lawn.
Plans envision a community resource where children and
adults alike can explore the area's history, culture, ecology and
architecture through recreational activities, educational programs,
special events and access to a unique archive of objects, photos and
The Discovery Center also is expected to enhance the area's destination
appeal in the growing heritage tourism industry. The Old School House, a
prominent historic landmark standing since 1866, served as a public school
until 1957 and has many alumni among current area residents.
Listed on both the Michigan and National Register, it is one of the oldest
multi-classroom school buildings in Michigan and considered one of the
finest examples of 19th century school architecture in America.
The sign was created by Saugatuck High School junior student Will Gibbons
in an art class competition guided by teacher Christa Wise.
A series of fun events promoting broader public support is planned for
coming months, including a June 5 party at the Blue Moon restaurant in
Douglas, a mid-June "Show & Tell" at the Old Schoolhouse to walk the site
and view Discovery Center plans, plus a public Town Meeting on July 12
(7:00pm, Saugatuck High School auditorium theater) to provide more
background and details. "Once In A Blue Moon" tickets, $50/person, can be
purchased at Blue Moon, Saugatuck-Douglas Library, Saugatuck-Douglas
Schools Superintendentís Office or by contacting 857-2904. For more
information about the Old School House Project, call Kristin Gebben, S/DHS
Development Director, at (269) 857-5751.