Jan 11, 2006

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Click on the floor plan above for a larger view


The palace was built in three months and opened as scheduled on Saturday July 3, 1909. The Commercial Record reported: “The big pavilion of the Saugatuck Amusement Co. was opened on this day and in the evening 5000 colored incandescent lights in its high arches made a dazzling splendor which cannot be described in words and has to be seen to be appreciated. The red, white, blue, green and amber lights were switched on and off as the occasion demanded and the dreamy waltzes and lively two steps were affected as much by the lights as the music which was furnished by a ten piece orchestra and was the best that could be procured. Frederick Limouze himself, resplendent in a white suit to match the formal dress of the 10-piece band from Chicago, was in charge of the dance floor.”

By August 20 the Commercial Record headlined, “Crowds Are Great!” and added: “The crowds continue to increase at the big pavilion and special cars bring large numbers from Holland and the Black Lake resorts nearly every evening and especially on nights when special features are presented. Last week Wednesday there were 1800 paid admissions and this week Wednesday fully as many.”

So the Big Pavilion, conceived by the big idea-man, Frederick Limouze, was born in mid 1909. It was to live and dominate the Saugatuck waterfront –- at first, the whole village –- for the next fifty years. Like a human lifetime, the Pavilion lived through youth, middle age, old age until on May 6, 1960 it died tragically and disappeared from view but not from the collective memory of the town.

Over the next year –- in a few two or three week series -- we will retell the story of the Big Pavilion on these pages. Stay tuned … by Jack Sheridan

Thanks goes to Kit Lane and her book “Saugatuck’s Big Pavilion: The Brightest Spot on the Great Lakes”. It is available from the Historical Society and at most local book stores.

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