Dec 21, 2005
Last week we followed the faint trail left by Limouze and Engle as they breathed life into the pavilion plan. It took three years and more investors, but finally in March 1909 came the word. The Commercial Record announced that work was about to commence on an "immense pavilion". The proposed building crowed the paper, "will be 200 feet long by 105 feet wide and cost about $25,000". (This would be about a half million in 2005 dollars - cheap for a 21,000 square foot building.) "The main entrance will face the north and will have a vestibule 38 x 16 feet. The dancing floor will be 110 x 60 making 6,600 square feet of space and there will be no posts in the buildings as the room will be supported with steel arches 68 feet high from the floor".
In early April a pile driver was brought in from South Haven and began driving the pilings on which the building was to rest near the rivers edge. By the end of April, two large barges arrived with 340,000 board feet of lumber and Henry Gleason and Sons - using their new, revolutionary, powered cement mixer - were just about finished with the concrete work.
Giant wooden arches were assembled on the rough floor and hoisted into place. A small army of carpenters and helpers swarmed over the site. The Holland City News reported: "Work on the Big Pavilion at Saugatuck has been pushed rapidly ever since it was started and men are now working overtime as long as they can still see, about 75 men being now employed, the payroll being $1,000 a week".
The Limouze target was to be open for the big Fourth of July weekend. 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.