Information Contacts:  


Jim Schmiechen
(269) 414-9199

John Peters
(269) 857-2967

Click HERE for a pdf of
the news release or one of the images below for a high resolution copy.




SAUGATUCK (MI), MAY 30, 2007 -- "Walls Talking: Stories Our Houses Tell..." -- the Saugatuck/Douglas Historical Society Museum's new 2007 Exhibition -- features a unique life-sized composite house representing three very different historic local homes, intended to let the viewer experience earlier times through possessions gathered from each house evoking the everyday life of people who lived there at a particular point in its past.

To showcase these reminiscent collections in a familiar context, the exhibition's curator Jim Schmiechen and the Museum design group headed by Saugatuck designer Judy Hillman worked with Jarzembowski Builders to erect, within the Museum's main gallery, a three-room structure giving each of the featured houses a separate room with its outer side open for viewing. In addition to historic objects, each room display includes a reader panel with photos, floor plans and a brief history of the house it represents.

One room features the 1870s-era house of millworker Martius VanLeeuwen, built in the pioneer town of Singapore, where the Kalamazoo River meets Lake Michigan. As Singapore began vanishing beneath shifting sand dunes, VanLeeuwen moved the house to Holland Street in Saugatuck, where it remains as the home of his granddaughter-in-law Mrs. Sylvia Randolph. This house is represented by a wide-ranging collection combining objects from Old Singapore and those of Mrs. Randolph, who at age 102 continues painting and decorating furniture for her house.

A second room portrays a farmhouse of the same era that still stands today along 140th Street northeast of Saugatuck. This was the lifelong home of Ms. Goldie Kleinheksel, fourth generation of her family to live there. Upon her death in 2006, she left to the Historical Society the entire contents of her home, comprising several thousand objects including Victorian furniture, pottery, jewelry, books, photos, historical documents and farm memorabilia.

A third room depicts the lakeshore cottage of John Norton, one of Chicago's best-known muralist/artists. Designed by renowned architect Thomas Eddy Tallmadge, the Norton cottage is featured as a study in cottage life from the 1920s to the present, showing how this classic "Arts & Crafts" design reflected the Norton family interest in merging art and nature in their enjoyment of summer.

Surrounding this central display is a three-wall panorama portraying the 176-year evolution of this area's buildings and architecture, showing how our built environment continues to preserve community traditions in renovation and new construction.

Composite house of historic rooms
greets visitors entering Museum

Kleinheksel Farmhouse display
Kleinheksel Farmhouse display

Norton Summer Cottage display
Norton Summer Cottage display

Randolph Singapore House display
Randolph Singapore House display

Ms. Sylvia Randolph, 102
Ms. Sylvia Randolph, 102, approves of memorabilia
display from her family home

--- Giant Interactive Map Added ---

Another new treat will be added to the Museum's south gallery, where a 25' x 12' illustrated color wall map of the Saugatuck-Douglas area combined with modern technology will 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, mimics the entertaining illustration/poster maps of the 1930-40 era, combining street layouts with stylized sketches and notes.

Many map-highlighted references will be keyed numerically to a computerized system for calling up information, narratives and images via several video/interactive touch-screen terminals, enabling visitors to select and learn about sites of interest to them. 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; and 13 Tales of the Villages. Also retrievable are local history videos: The Story of the Big Pavilion; and A Video History of Saugatuck and Douglas.

In addition, the computers allow public access to the Historical Society's digitized photo archives, pages of The Commercial Record dating back to 1868, the Saugatuck-Douglas Building Survey and more.

Some three years in development, this new interactive map and retrieval exhibition was made possible by a $20,000 gift from Douglas Dunes Resort and Macatawa Bank, supplementing funding from the Saugatuck/Douglas Historical Society.

Voted "Best Museum" by Lake Magazine readers in 2005 and winner of a dozen state awards for exhibition and publication design, the Saugatuck-Douglas Museum is one of Michigan's best-known and most-visited small-town museums, annually drawing nearly 10,000 visitors to its exhibits and more than 40,000 visitors to its outdoor garden and "learning stations" along its harbor-front walkway. It has been selected as one of four sites for the 2007 International Society of Architectural Historians "Architectural History Tour" in October, along with sites in Palm Springs (CA), Berlin and Tokyo.

Founded in 1992, the Museum occupies the historic Saugatuck Pump House at 735 Park Street, along the west shore of the Kalamazoo River at Mt. Baldhead Park, a short walk north from the Saugatuck Chain Ferry landing. The Museum is open noon to 4:00pm daily from Memorial Day through August, then Saturday/Sunday in September and October. Admission and parking are free. Tel: (269) 857-7900;

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