THE CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH
In 1860, Saugatuck was beginning to feel its
oats. The Civil War was yet beyond horizon and the lumber and shipbuilding industries were
growing--the areas future was bright. There were plenty of saloons for a village of
300, but not a church. On January 11, 1861 a group of townspeople met at the Pine Grove School
to remedy the situation. Being in the majority, settlers from New England had a strong
voice and the Congregational church got a collective nod. In fact there happened to be a
minister in townthe Reverend C. H. Eatonwho had come here with the idea of a
frontier church in mind. Eaton lost no time organizing the first congregation which
consisted of sixteen members.
Among the members willing to finance the church construction was Frank B.
Wallin, Dingleville tannery owner. Building began in the spring on land donated by Henry
Brueckman who was the foreman of the Wallin tannery. Bruekman donated half of his lot
which was on Hoffman St. between Butler and Griffith. On this fine site was built
Saugatucks first church. The church atop
the Hoffman Street hill (left photo) and the Bruekman home at the bottom are visible in
the enlargement from the 1874 panorama. Both structures are still here today.
The church has undergone three major expansions in 164 years. The original
structure (middle photo) was outgrown in 35 years. The expanded 1896 version (right photo)
was again expanded and renovated in the 1960s.
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