Back to Previous Page

History Lives Here Text

Archivist'sCorner

 

The Society recently received into itspermanent collection an important painting of Saugatuck done in 1902 by Chicago artist Carl Mauch.

The painting was donated by Russell AllenValleau of Rantoul, Illinois. It was one of two local paintingsthat was part of an exhibit of Michiganart celebrating the state'ssesquicentennial 1986-87. It is 14 x 18 inches, oil on board, and is describedin the exhibit catalog by author Sadayoshi Omoto:

The east end of the chain or draw ferryacross the narrow part of the Kalamazoo River just west of thelake is the setting for this work. It is autumn; several people may be seen onthe ferry on the opposite shore. To the far left is the Tourists' Home hotel (changed to Mount BaldheadHotel in 1933 because the name sounded too commonplace), which burned in 1959.The vantage point for this painting is on the west shore of the river with themajestic dune Mt. Baldhead immediatelybehind. Even in earlier days, the Indians found this 262-foot dune an ideal lookoutspot. Subsequently the Village of Saugatuck acquired theland for park use.

The scene is one of calm and quiet andpainted with a sensitivity and richness in color modulations. No longer isthere the rugged towering awesome wilderness but now there is the soft lushgreens of the trees seen against the puffy, drifting cumulus clouds. Thebuildings take on a patina which enhances their solid yet intimate character.Gentle ripples in the Kalamazoo River, reflecting nature's wondrous colors, seem to invite theviewer to be a part of this pleasant attractive setting. It is understandablethat artists from Chicago,seeking relief from the grime and harshness of the urban center, sought outthis attractive setting for their paintings as well as for their physical wellbeing.

 

Ferry painting by Carl Mauch 1902

 

 

The artist Carl Mauch (1854-1913) was bornin Stuttgart, Germanyand studied at the Stuttgart Academy with Noeher,Rustige, Piloty and C. Buehr. It is not known when he came to the United Statesbut he was the first president of the Palette and Chisel Academy of Fine Artsin Chicago when many of the artists who in 1914 would found the Ox-Bow SummerSchool of Painting were members. In 1902 Chicago artists gathered moreinformally, many at Riverside Rest, the Bandle Farm on the Holland Road justnorth of Saugatuck, and at Tourist Home, the hotel shown in the picture.

 

 

Carl Mauch

 

Artists included in that early group, mostwith some ties to the Art Institute of Chicago, include John Warner Norton(1876-1934) best known for his murals; John Christen Johansen (1876-1966) aDanish-born portrait artist; Walter Marshall Clute (1870-1915), Chicagonewspaper artist and landscape painter, and later Frederick Frary Fursman(1874-1943), teacher and painter of impressionistic landscapes and portraits.

The donor, Russell Allen Valleau was theson of Russell F. and Verna Sprang (Allen) Valleau and spent his early years ona family dairy farm near Saugatuck. Later, after serving 20 years in the AirForce he moved to Saugatuck for a few years before returning to Rantoul, Illinois.

Verna's parents, William Harrison "Harry" and Flora(Sprang) Allen had married in Kansas in 1886. In 1890 Harry had invested in abank near Hoxie, Kansas. When it failed one asset left was asmall fruit farm in Allegan County, so the entire family moved to Michigan. RobertRussell, a retired oilman from Pennsylvania, had opened Saugatuck's first hotel in an old warehouse near theriver. He asked the Allens to manage it. In 1901, the hotel, named TouristHome, was purchased by them and became a favorite stopping place for Chicagoartists. The Allen family, including Rhea (Allen) Jackson (an aunt to donorRussell Allen Vaileau) and her husband, Harry, ran the hotel until 1955.

The Mauch painting will be a highlight ofthe 1997 museum exhibit: "Paintingthe Town: A Century of Artists in Saugatuck-Douglas."

PavilionMemories

"I remember many years of roller skating,watching movies and also attending teen club in the coffee house. In the mid1950's there were teen ballroomdances."

Bonnie Sewers Kozanicki

"I remember being charged an adult price (25cents) to get into the movies-and I was not the adult age. It was made up laterbecause the ticket taker knew everyone in town."

Betty Sewers Rasmussen

"My Uncle George Wieland was an electricianand helped build the dynamo that lighted the Big Pavilion. While he was herefrom Grand Rapidshe roomed at Arends Gray Service."

Ken Wieland

"The Pavilion, what a grand place. As achild I roller skated on the huge ballroom floor, attended many a movie and sawmy first big star, Mary Hartline, as she performed during the show boatsponsored by the local Lions Club. Mach McDonald was manager of the movietheater at that time and I have some wonderful memories of this jovial man. Inthe late fifties for 25 cents you could go to the movies (10 cents) and stillget a pop and popcorn and even some candy. Oh, those were the days! I'm so grateful that I was able to be a partof such a grand building."

Sally Wieland Naughtin

"Before World War II I remember going to thePavilion with my parents. I would dance with my father and my brother, JackBolhuis, would dance with my mother. We both learned to dance at the Pavilionwhen we were six to nine years old."

Barb Bolhuis Raabe

Summer 1926. A group of Zeeland High Schoolgirls rented a cottage just south of the ferry. We would take the ferry acrossevery evening and spend the evening in the Big Pavilion.

J. Bolhuis

"My fondest memories are as a teenagerdancing at the Pavilion with my then boyfriend, John East, who became a U. S. Senator.We felt like Prince Charming and Cinderella. It was indeed special. Thank youfor this chance to relive those days."

Suzann Edwards

"My first memory of the Big Pavilion was in1925. My parents and I were vacationing at Tourists' Home (which is now Ship 'nShore). We went to the Big Pavilion for the music and dancing. I remember thespecial parties they had like Farm & Barn or Balloon. When they startedhaving movies in the south wing, it was used by my parents as a baby sitterwhile they enjoyed the dancing. "

Adele Cunningham

"The Pavilion was the high point of my childhood. I went to themovie every night and the movie changed every night. In the mid 1950's my parents, George and JoAnn Gallas, helddances there every night. There were teen dances and adult dances and talentshows. The town still owes my parents $300 for that summer."

Nicki Gallas

After the fire part of the remains wereburied on the House farm. Bob Allen, son of Father Allen of A11 SaintsEpiscopal Church, remembers that his family had a free pass.

Bob and Katherine Allen