Click HERE for printer friendly version with images



Wednesday, October 14, 7:00PM, Old School House, Golf And Other Passions - The History of Golf In Saugatuck/Douglas Art Lane is the coordinator for this meeting. Come and learn why golf has been a favorite summertime activity in our area for almost one hundred years.

Wednesday, November 11, 7:00PM, Old School House, The Value of Historic Preservation in a Community Our speaker is Nan Taylor who is the Greater Michigan Field Representative for the Michigan Historic Preservation Network & National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Sunday, December 6       SAVE THE DATE

  Return to Tradition  This year we bring back the traditional potluck from the past plus give you an option if you don't want to cook.
A New Venue  This year's party will have a new look. The party will be held at the Saugatuck Center for the Arts - a new feel, easy parking and more space!
New Activities  We'll have book signings, Society gift sales and more.

Look for your invitation and more information
in early November.


Once again this year the Society Board will be hosting a chili supper to thank the hundreds of Society members who have volunteered their time and efforts during the year for the Society's many programs and projects.

  Date: Sunday, November 1
  Location: Old School House
  Time: 6:30PM

Look for more information in an e-mail invitation in early October. If you know you will attend, please REPLY to this email or contact Fred Schmidt at 269-857-1620.


Sylvia Daple at work at the Tech Center

Hi! I'm Sylvia Daple, a 22 year resident of Saugatuck, a transplant from Chicago. In the last few years I have become more involved in the community and love every minute of it. Recently I was asked to do the data entry for the Saugatuck Douglas Historical Society of the many hours volunteers put in doing various tasks. Some of these include manning the museum, archiving, fund raising, gardening, running the garage sale, and moving the contents of the Tech Center to the Old School House Discovery Center.

I am honored to do this small task and look forward to working with the many wonderful volunteers who make this Historical Society unique.

Note: In last month's newsletter, I asked for someone to take over the task of recording volunteer hours. I am happy to announce that Sylvia Daple has graciously volunteered to take over this task, allowing me more time to work in the Archives.

The new e-mail address to send in your hours is Thank you Sylvia for your willingness to take over this task, and thank you also to all the wonderful volunteers who faithfully reported their hours to me these past few years. It was great getting to know you! Mary Voss


The Society thanks David Lubbers and his crew at Affordable Landscaping for their donation of tree and landscaping services at the Old School House and Museum. Call  David at 616-886-9399 for estimates.


The New Revenue Committee is studying new ideas for bringing in additional revenue to the Society. We are looking at both short and long range ideas including new retail items to sell over the Holidays and the eventual leasing of space at the Old School House Discovery Center. If you would like to work with us or if you can volunteer to help staff at the Old School House on weekends in November and December, please let us know!

The committee is meeting regularly and we welcome ideas from all Society members. Please contact Jon Helmrich at or 269.857.3574 if you can help out with this important effort.


We are about to embark on the Society's 2010 membership drive. Start working on your neighbors and friends to encourage them to "join the fun".

Thanks, Ed Kelly, Membership Development Team


Friday August 21, at the Old School House, the President of the International Order of the Blue Gavel (IOBG) and the Commodore of the host Tower Harbour Yacht Club rang the schoolhouse bell two times (2 Bells is the nautical format for 9 am), calling to order the IOBG Summer Meeting.

Thus began a meaningful full day's work session consisting of executive committee and district reports, by-law reviews, organizational job description revisions, and other pertinent organizational topics. The facilities at the Old School House worked out extremely well. Of particular interest was watching the various members scrutinizing in detail the school projects and the historical banners hanging on the walls. The building truly functioned as a Discovery Center as many of the IOBG members spent break times perusing the above projects, reading texts of banners, poking around at the "lockers" and browsing the books. Several books were purchased, and a donation was received for the OSH.

It was particularly nice to have multiple rooms available. Everyone was happy to "protect the floors" by enjoying only white beverages (water, lemonade and Sprite). The only thing missing for our organization (and perhaps others in the future) was an American Flag, but we provided one for this occasion.

Pumpernickels provided very nice box lunches and we added 'hand-picked' Red Haven Peaches for dessert.

Our visitors loudly praised everything they experienced in Douglas and Saugatuck. Comments included:

  "Real America still exists."
  "This is by far the best regional meeting we have ever had."
  "I could live here but my husband won't leave California."
  "We will be back!!!"

We were proud to host them here. On behalf of the Executive Committee of the IOBG, IOBG members, and Tower Harbour Yacht Club, we sincerely thank you for allowing us to use such wonderful facilities for our meeting. We are pleased to give a $200 donation to SDHS.

Sincerely, Bob Sapita , President District 23 IOBG (and Kay Sapita) Bob and Kay are members of the Society.


Robert Woodhull pulled a strange fish from the Kalamazoo River at Saugatuck in February of 1882. The next week, this event was reported in the Lake Shore Commercial (today's Commercial Record). It was written that the unusual creature was "thought to be a carp", a species introduced to the upper waters of the Kalamazoo in 1880 and 1881 by the Michigan State Fish Association.

Congress had established the U.S. Fish Commission in 1871 to oversee the nation's fisheries interests. One of its first jobs was to consider what species to introduce to increase the supply of food fishes. By 1874, the commission concluded "that no other species, except the carp, promises so great a return in limited waters". In 1877 they imported 345 scaled, mirror and leather carp from German fish farms. Starting in 1879, over 6,000 fingerlings were shipped to recipients in 24 states. One year later, when the Kalamazoo got its first batch, 31,332 carp were distributed.

By 1886, "carp culture" was a going concern. The front page of the October 1 Commercial of that year featured a report from a carp growers convention held in Morrow County, Ohio. Prominent Saugatuck locals got into the swing of things. By December of that same year, local businessman and farmer Calvin Whitney had constructed a carp pond on his farm east of the village. In 1891 William Lindsey of Hopkins Township drained his carp pond and sold $100 worth of fish from what had previously been a "profitless mudhole".

Carp is not a favored food fish today, but once upon a time the restaurants of the Waldorf and Astoria Hotels in New York featured "Carp in Rhine Wine Sauce".
                                        contributed by Chris Yoder


We are beginning the process of preparing a slate for Board of Director nominations for the 2010 election. Six of our current board seats will expire in May 2010. Three of our current board members have indicated they will not seek re-election. This is an open call to all members to submit nominations for consideration to join the Society board.

Also, we need need two members of the Society to join our Nominating Committee to prepare for the election next Spring. If you are interested in serving on the committee or have potential candidates for the committee to consider, please contact Jon Helmrich, Society vice-president, as soon as possible at either: or 269.857.3574.

by Jim Schmiechen, Museum Chair and Curator for 2009

SPECTACULAR --- is about the best word to describe the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society’s History Museum's 2009 season -- which is nearing a close. 'Summertime. A Century of Leisure at the Lake Michigan Shore" attracted record crowds (pushing 9,000 to date) -- something unheard of for small-town museums in Michigan. Visitor response was overwhelmingly positive, with many proud to claim multiple visits, each time bringing new folks along. Much new local history was added to the Society's archives.

"Summertime" is a complicated production that includes a wall of "summertime" objects, 10 principal theme/story displays, a Big Pavilion model and monitor slide show, a second "show" -- the Sky Light Drive-In home movie and slide show, a Chris Craft boat model, two school kids exhibits (one at the Society's Old School House), and a kid's post-card interactive "Summertime Post Office".

In addition, over 600 people attended the "Summertime" Tuesday Talks series held at the Old School House with its very fine new giant flat-screen projection system. We are proud to say that it is claimed that we are the first museum in Michigan to feature local Gay and Lesbian history ("the Gay Times" display). Added to all of this was the introduction of the new book, the history of the Big Pavilion which sold so well that the Society is already operating in the 100% profit mode regarding its sales. Soft and hard cover copies are still available.

Besides its fine-weather 'gala' opening for over 300 members and friends on Memorial Day weekend, the Museum hosted a very successful and fun "Meet the Museum" party for local businesses with over 100 guests, many of whom arrived via the Saugatuck Chain Ferry that was commissioned for special use on a beautiful summer evening in early June. We thank all these folks -- shop owners and B&B keepers -- for their support in advertising the museum and to the Society's new marketing group for a new museum marketing plan.

Most of all thanks to the volunteer design team of over a dozen designers, writers, archivists, technicians, painters, construction crew and the over 50 host volunteers who keep the doors open and the visitors happy. And thanks to Society Board and Society members whose support makes the museum possible. Incidentally, this year we instituted a "suggested donation" system that increased our donation jar income by more than 300%.

Oh --- and lets not forget. 2009 was the first full season of our amazing south gallery "SuperMap" which tells of the geoHistory of the area since the 1830s that had visitors absolutely stunned with interest -- working away at the interactive system that holds hundreds of historic sites and connects 111 of them to a computerized photo-essay program. Thanks to the Douglas Dunes Resort and the Douglas Macatawa Bank for underwriting the project.

We are open Saturdays and Sundays through October -- so visit your museum once more in 2009 -- and enjoy the garden on the way in.

Farewell to summer -- two photos from the 2009 collection.

by Jack Sheridan
(Click on an image for the answer)

HISTORY: Ox-bow painters in a Saugatuck river side setting ca 1941.
MYSTERY: Can you identify the location?

HISTORY: A Fourth of July celebration in progress ca 1911.
MYSTERY: Name the location.


HISTORY: The Community Hospital ca 1956.
MYSTERY: What is here today?


HISTORY: Seen here in a 1940 photo, the Pine Crest motel was used as a movie set in 2001.
MYSTERY: Name the movie.


To become a member or renew your membership select from the following categories:

Individual $25
Household $45
Senior (65+) $18
Senior Household $30
Student $5
Corporate $150
Life, Individual $300
Life, Household $500

Send check payable to the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society to: PO Box 617, Douglas, Michigan 49406. You can also click HERE for a Society Membership Application.

Send items for the newsletter to: Fred Schmidt, PO Box 617, Douglas MI 49406 or email


The Saugatuck-Historical Museum is located in the historic Pump House at the foot of Mt. Baldhead on the west bank of the Kalamazoo River. The Museum's 2009 exhibit is titled:

"Summertime: A Century of Leisure at the Lake Michigan Shore"

The Museum is open from Noon to 4 PM. on weekends through October 31.

The Society's Technology Center is open Monday from 1 to 4 p.m., Tuesdays 10 a.m. to noon and Wednesday 9 a.m. to noon.

Society Phone: 269 857-5751
Museum Phone: 269 857-7900
Tech Center Phone 269 857-7901

If you would like to contact us with comments, please email us at or call us at 269-857-5751.
We appreciate the opportunity to send you the Society's news and events information. If for any reason you wish not to receive
additional notices, please click on the "UNSUBSCRIBE" option below.