Click HERE for a pdf of the News Release


Information Contacts:


John Peters
(269) 857-2967

Ms. Merle Malmquist
(269) 857-4817
Ms. Paula Schultz
(269) 857-3661



SAUGATUCK (MI), AUG. 21, 2006 -- On Saturday, September 16, the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society will present its fifth annual Heritage Festival: "Building The Future While Reflecting The Past". Highlighting the day-long event will be an open-house tour of eight homes honored by the Historical Society for blending this community's historic character with today's amenities and lifestyles. Among the fun and educational activities also featured are a pre-tour presentation, an all-new exhibition at the Society's award-winning Museum, a traditional "Clothesline" Art Show, an 1860's vintage base ball match and guided vineyard tours.

This year's Home Tour -- with sites open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. -- includes charmingly reconstructed cottages, contemporary adaptations of the "Arts & Crafts" and Colonial Revival styles characterizing the early 1900s, plus historic barns converted for modern living...all done with respect for this area's traditions of style, scale, materials and compatibility with their surroundings. With locations ranging from a secluded, unpaved country lane north of Saugatuck to South Union Street in Douglas, the tour is structured for self-driven / start-anywhere / enjoy-at-your-own-pace visits, with free parking, docents and information sheets at each home.

The tour includes a free refreshment stop at Woodland Realty along the Blue Star Highway at the southern edge of Douglas, featuring an outdoor display of a rare 26-ft. metal-hulled Francis Lifeboat, ca. 1860. The boat was abandoned at Saugatuck Lighthouse in the 1930s, but its remains were kept in storage for decades until Historical Society volunteers recently restored it as one of only two remaining along the Great Lakes.

Tour admission price is $20 for adults, $10 for ages 4-16, with proceeds benefiting the Society's all-volunteer operation and programs.

A pre-tour Panel Discussion from 10 a.m. to 11.a.m. will enrich the tour experience with behind-the-scenes insights about the process of heritage preservation. Several area builders will share their experiences with new-home construction and existing-home renovation compatible with the architectural traditions of the community. Discussion Moderator will be Jim Hanson, Chair of the Saugatuck Township Planning Commission. This presentation will take place at the Saugatuck High School Auditorium, south entry near Elizabeth & Main Streets, with free parking at that location. Easiest access is west off Blue Star Highway at Allegan Road, then north on Elizabeth, following High School directional signs that start along the Highway. Admission is included with the Homes Tour ticket, or $5 for presentation only.

An all-new exhibition at the Historical Society's award-winning Museum will extend the visitor's understanding and appreciation of the area's architectural heritage. "Raising The Roof: The Second Story" portrays the 175-year evolution of styles characterizing this area's built environment. Having had the good fortune to escape the devastating fires that leveled many Lake Michigan area frontier towns including Chicago in the mid-to-late 1880s, Saugatuck and Douglas provide a rare opportunity to observe both pre- and post-Civil War architecture, much of which still remains in residential or commercial service. A 178-page commemorative book, titled to match the exhibit and expanding upon its presentation, chronicles the founding and development of Saugatuck and Douglas -- along with their predecessor lumber-mill town of Singapore, now lost beneath sand dunes near the mouth of the Kalamazoo River -- richly illustrated with archive photographs, drawings and maps.

Each year the Historical Society Museum mounts a new exhibit on the area's history. For the past 8 years running, the books that have accompanied the exhibits have won either the Silver or Gold Medal from the Michigan Museum Association. The Museum is located in Saugatuck's historic Old Pump House, 735 Park Street at Mt. Baldhead Park, across the river from downtown Saugatuck. A picturesque outdoor garden there overlooks the Saugatuck harbor, shops and residential background, with directional views enhanced by informative plaques. Museum admission and parking are free, with exhibit and shop open from Noon to 4 p.m. on Festival day and all Saturdays and Sundays during September and October.

The "Clothesline" Art Show presents paintings, drawings, sculpture and craftwork by members of the Saugatuck-Douglas Art Club, with many artworks hung in the Club's traditional outdoor display on clotheslines. Admission is free; the show runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Beery Field, Main & Center Streets in Douglas. Following the Art Show, Beery Field hosts an 1860s Vintage Base Ball Association Match. At 3 p.m., the Douglas Dutchers (winners of the 2005 Silas K. Pierce Tournament) and the Ludington Mariners will take Beery Field for warm-up, then at 4 p.m. will begin the Match, played under the very different rules and gentlemanly demeanor of the Civil War era. Hot dogs, peanuts and lemonade will be available.

As a mid-day alternative, Fenn Valley Vineyard and Winetasting Tours combine the fun of a 30-minute narrated wagon ride with learning about local grape-growing and winemaking, then tasting the pride of this family-owned-and-operated producer of premium award-winning wines. A special Heritage Festival schedule will start tours on the hour and half-hour from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free (no reservations, early arrival suggested). The vineyard is located at 6130 122nd Avenue, Fennville, just a few minutes' drive from Saugatuck/Douglas: take I-196 south to Exit 34 -- or the Blue Star Highway south to M89 -- and follow the signs.

For visitors who would like to start the day with a competitive run, the annual Mt. Baldhead Challenge offers a 1K Kids Run at 8:40 a.m., a 15K run at 9 a.m., and a 5K run at 9:15 a.m. For details and a course map, visit or call (616) 355-9156.

Heritage Festival Tour tickets will be available in advance at The French Cottage, 33 Center Street, Douglas, and in Saugatuck at Uncommon Grounds coffee shop, 127 Hoffman Street and the Historical Society Museum, 735 Park Street (at Mt. Baldhead Park across the river from downtown). On tour day tickets also will be offered at the Introductory Panel Presentation, all tour home sites, and Woodland Realty, 2987 Blue Star Hwy, Douglas. For Heritage Festival information, visit or call (269) 857-7900.

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