AUGUST  2013

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Again this year, the Society Newsletters are being underwritten by a generous donation from Frances Vorys, a Society Life member.

SDHS has over 20,000 votes AND we're in second place. Don't be lulled into a false sense of confidence as last year's winner had over 26,000 and the vote count has almost doubled each year so there is not telling how high it might rise. Also, many organizations don't submit their votes until the contest goes dark during the last two weeks.

If you've not taken the opportunity to vote, please do so. Each $1 equals 1 vote and gets us closer to being in the top 5 and garnering an additional bonus.

There are two easy ways to help us finish first this year:
1) Pick up an envelope at the OSH or Pump House Museum (or call us at 269-857-5751 and we'll mail you one)
2) Go to and vote on-line.

Thank you for Keeping History Alive Here!

                                        submitted by Valerie Atkin

Dine Around Events: A Delicious Series of Dinners and Parties
to support the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society
From gourmet dinners in exclusive homes to casual cocktail parties, these culinary events feature great food and great times for a great cause.

A Roan and Black Evening
Saturday, September 28, 2013 | 7 pm
Tickets $125 per person
Hosted by John Newland & Doug McIntosh
3315 Blue Star Highway, Saugatuck

Cocktails in the new Blue Star Highway home of John Newland and Doug McIntosh followed by dinner for 12 downstairs in the Roan and Black Gallery.

Sorry, but this event has SOLD OUT!

2nd Annual Halloween Rooftop Bash
Saturday, October 26, 2013 | 7:30 pm
Tickets $40 per person
Hosted by Judi & Howard Vanderbeck
and Janie & Jim Flemming
On the Rooftop, 150 Center Street, Douglas

High spirits and dinner hot off the grill with Douglas Halloween parade viewing at 10 PM.

Comfortable Fall Feast with Steve Teich
Saturday, November 16, 2013 | 6:30 pm
Tickets $85 per person
Hosted by Steve Teich
178 West Shore Court, Douglas

Cocktails and a hearty dinner for eight in the newly transformed home of designer Steve Teich.

Dollybrook Musical Chairs Progressive Dinner
Saturday, January 11, 2014 | 6:30 pm
Tickets $75 per person
Hosted by The Keag Family, Dollybrook Family Resort
2076 66th Street, Fennville

Park once and enjoy small plate dining as you walk to each of the nine unique cottages at Dollybrook Resort. The natural beauty and charming, eclectic decor of this property will brighten your January.

The first two events were SOLD OUT! To reserve your place in the upcoming events, REPLY to this email or call 269-857-5751 or email and we'll be in touch.

Tuesday Talks are arranged by the SDHS Program Group. Direct questions and or suggestions for 2014 to Jim Schmiechen at

l August 20: Jack Sheridan, Beach Stories: Low Water, High Water and Beach Life. Sponsored by Star of Saugatuck and Terry Burns
l August 27: Kit Lane, Goshorn Lake. Is it really bottomless? Sponsored by Osman Flowers & Firs and Howard & Paula Schultz

2013 Society Monthly Programs
At the Old School House History Center
except December

August 14: Eat Your Way to the Top Annual Picnic at the History Center. Celebrating the Garden's Mt. Baldhead Viewing Station. Note early starting time: 6:00

September 11: Now and Then: Great Lakes - Hot Topics Long time Great Lakes observer Patty Birkholz brings past and present views of our greatest local asset - the water. Swimmingly delicious deserts. Sponsored by Ruth and Don Wendel

October 9: Tales from the Crypt: Visitors from the Ghostown of Plummerville (Ganges Township)  Led by Kit Lane and Marsha Kontio, a virtual tour by the Cemetery Actors Group. Refreshments to Die For.

November 13: Painting: the Town: Landscape, the Artist, and People by Ken Kutzel who brings stories from the Society's art collection.

December 1: Annual Society Holiday Dinner 6:00 pm. At the Saugatuck Center for the Arts. Kick off the Holiday Season. Good cheer, Great Food, Good Friends.

If you would like to sponsor one of the Monthly Programs, please REPLY to this email. Sponsorships are $150.

Thanks to Valerie Atkin, Ed Kelly, Sharon Kelly, Marsha Kontio and Renee Zita for providing yummy refreshments for our Monthly Meetings.

Happenings at the Old School House History Center

On Saturday, September 7, our space becomes an EVENT SPACE as the Old School House helps celebrate the very 1st Wedding Reception. Congratulations Meggie and Justin.

At 1:00 PM on Sunday, September 22, the Great Lakes Chapter of the National Wildlife Federation will hold a fundraiser at the Old School House History Center. Click HERE for more details

Welcome from Jack Sheridan and Chris Yoder leaders of the Society Family History Group. Our meeting schedule is the first and third Thursday of every month. Upcoming meetings are:

Thursday, August 15
Thursday, September 5
Thursday, September 19

Please join us to see what we are all about and most importantly, share "lessons learned" about the many tools available for family research.

In recent months I have told you about my DNA analysis. There is a steady feedback of possible matches each week. I am looking for ancestors, ie grandparents, that I do not yet have in my family tree. The DNA feedback does not prove relationship but it creates new likely places to look.

Of course I am especially interested in the surname Sheridan. A new find would be my fifth great grandfather Sheridan born about 1730. This would be a EUREKA! moment as I have been looking for some thirteen years!

My fourth great grandfather was Joseph Sheridan born in 1754. I know nothing of his ancestors and little about his descendants except that one of his sons, my third great grandfather is Allen Sheridan. Allen I know a lot about but Joseph - not much. Here is a bit of it. He enlisted to fight in the Revolutionary War in 1781 from an area of western Massachusetts. He appears in the U. S. censuses for 1790, 1800, 1810 and 1820. He was probably widowed and remarried. If so, he had at least three sons - Allen and Caleb, I know, and at least four daughters, all unknown to me. There are no names of his wives. He lived in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New York between 1754 and about 1827. Sheridan is a traditional Irish name but there is no mention of him coming from Ireland so the born in Ireland ancestor may be a few generations back.

Let me know if you see him in a tree! Stay tuned.

Think about your family puzzles and realize that if you want to discover your family history, but have not known where and how to begin, our SDHS Family History group is here to help.

An easy starting point is to record what you know about your parents, grandparents, and great grandparents and send it along for a review by our volunteers to SDHS Family History, Box 617, Douglas, Michigan 49406, or email a copy to either or Give us time for an initial assessment. We will soon be back to you with readily found data and with suggestions on the next steps to take. Future further help is always available from the Family History group. The only requirement is membership in the SDHS.

I must stress that your family history does not have to have any connection to the Saugatuck-Douglas area.

Still wondering? Questions/comments/advice/needs: Contact me at: or 269 857-7144. Chris is back from Arizona so his great help is readily available.          submitted by Jack Sheridan

Click on the picture for a higher resolution copy.

Frank, Gertrude and Broward - A Thumbnail History

Franklin Augustus Denison was a Chicago boy. Born in Chicago 1909, he was the first son of a respected and successful attorney. His father wanted him to go to law school but Frank had other ideas.

The family had a summer home in St. Joseph, Michigan and there Frank developed an early love for Lake Michigan boats. By 1933 he had a trucking company in addition to a part time business renovating and selling yachts.

They met in the Big Pavilion - of course! In 1947 he married Gertrude Winslow of Chicago. Her father Clarence Morton Winslow was of the Saugatuck Winslow family.

In the 1930s, Frank had started to buy and refurbish boats which led to customers far and wide. While honeymooning in Florida he and Gertrude called on one of those customers who just happened to have a small shipyard in Fort Lauderdale that he wanted to sell in the worst way. He made them an offer that could not be refused!

So the birth of Broward Marine. In the early 1950's the business gathered speed with government orders for wooden hulled minesweepers. The resulting workforce and design capability became the Broward's entrée to large custom yachts.

Frank was an excellent manager because Gertrude was beside him playing a key role in all aspects of the business.

In 1953, perfume magnate David Bennett had died and the Bennett property was on the market. In 1954 his heirs were asking $75,000 for a bunch of sand dunes with a river running through the middle. One foot in Florida and the other in Saugatuck, Frank considered, Gertrude decided. The price lowered a bit. The deal was closed!. Another beginning - the Denison Estate. And twenty years later the site for a Broward Marine boatyard!

Fast forward to 1973. Frank was on a commute from Florida when he just happened to meet two talented boat builders. They were returning from a mission to build a plant in Florida for the Chris Craft owned Roamer Division. It just so happened that Roamer was planning to build aluminum hulled boats in Florida. Furthermore, it just so happened that these guys were from Holland and had little appetite for a move to Florida.

After a brief conversation and a handshake they were to begin working for Broward Marine and with the challenge of building a plant right here on the river through the dunes! Their talents were the key to the next twenty years of great Broward Marine custom yacht production. During that time up to half of the yachts built by Broward - up to 120 ft. - came out of the Saugatuck plant.

Broward aluminum hull yachts were a huge success. In the years that followed, Frank, Gertrude and their sons Kit, Skip, and Ken built a quality organization. Their slogan was "Demand the Finest." In the 1990s they were building ten boats a year in lengths up to 155 ft. The right combination of innovation, design flair, and building quality made Broward a leader in the custom super yacht business.

Time marches on and advancing age convinced Gertrude and Frank to sell the business. It was sold in 1999 to Polo Holdings. The production of yachts in Saugatuck ended in 2001. Gertrude Winslow Denison died in 1997 and Frank Augustus Denison in 2000.

Ken Denison has carried on the megayacht brokerage business with his Company, Denison and Daves.

I thank Ken Denison for helping me gather information for this article.

Next month we take a look at another interesting entrepreneur.

Click on the picture for a higher resolution copy.

                            submitted by

Welcome New Members

We would like to welcome the new members who have joined the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society since the last newsletter.
l Elizabeth Burns - Saugatuck, MI & Ballwin, MO
l Carol & Thomas Bruckman - Saugatuck, MI
l Jeffrey L. Aldrich - Fennville, MI
l Karen Kayser - Louisville, KY
l Jane R. Harrison - Douglas, MI
l Lee & Cher Curtis - Fennville, MI & Webster Groves, MO)

Society Booth at the Blue Star Antique Pavilion

The Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society Booth at the Blue Star Antique Pavilion in Douglas has been a great success! Stop in to see the display of Society books and other great items! All proceeds go for Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society projects. Check us out soon!

Thank you to all of you who have donated beautiful items for us to sell.

If you have great "smalls" to donate to raise money, call Ken Kutzel at 269-857-4475.

Garden Happenings

The "Dog Days of Summer" are here but it sure doesn't feel like it. This cooler, wetter summer has sure made our garden a spectacular site to visit - and visitors we've had. From Tuesday Talks to drop ins, the garden has been enjoyed by many. The Holland Horticulture Club is having a tour of our garden. Thank you Joy Muehlenbeck for bringing them to us. Wednesday is our annual picnic to celebrate the Mt. Baldhead station and the garden, but you can take a sneak peek before hand. The station looks amazing! Many thanks to John Migas, Dick Bont, Dawn Stafford, Kristi Mueller, Jim Schmeichen and the Saugatuck High School wood shop class. We couldn't have done it without you. Also our weed patrol has been working their gloves off. Thanks to ALL of you for helping us out. It is a job that is never finished but truly appreciated.

Judy Anthrop and her Posse are busy getting proposals for the Gerber bird houses. The project doesn't sound like it is going to be a cheap one, but well worth it. Hopefully we can make a decision soon on the lucky company that will help us out!

The Garden Committees next order of business will be the Peach Orchard. We would like to install the fence this season and create our Pollinator Habitat. Fence designs are on the drawing table and Kristi and Jim are brainstorming, as we speak, on the graphics for this station.

Remember, it is never to early to start thinking of Christmas - the season of giving. Why not give a beautiful garden bench complete with a name plaque! We have our biggest and most unique benches available. You can even purchase part of a bench. If you have any questions about these amazing, one of a kind, works of art, please ask Ruth Johnson or Jim Schmiechen.

A big thank you to our intern Troy Prill. He will be leaving us on August 17th. What a great job he did! Anyone interested in becoming a garden tour guide, please contact Ruth or Jim. We have a tour script waiting for you.

One more thanks goes to Mike Economos. His talent is on display at our Museum. What a beautiful garden. We are truly blessed to have him on our committee at the Old School House.

See you next month.
The Garden Committee

Garden Clean-Up

The Clean-up crew: Rob McCaleb, Mary Voss, Sunny Hill and Maury Decoster, Judy and Howard Vanderbeck & Al Lyon

Eight dedicated volunteers organized by Dottie Lyon showed up on August 8 to remove the brush, weeds and dead branches from along the fence on the east side of the school house. They also spread multiple bags of mulch. The landscaping in the front yard of the school house now looks so much better! Many hands make light work! Thank you guys!

What You Missed
A Dinner with "a Peel"

A SOLD OUT four-course meal paired with six cider servings was served to fourteen guests among the barrels in the Cider House in Fennville.

Photos by John Peters

White Run with a Splash of Rainbow
Organized by the Society's 2013 Interns

Event Information
Saturday, August 17, 2013
Old Schoolhouse
130 Center St., Douglas
Registration: 8:15 am
Race: 9:30 am
Cost Individual: $20
Family of 4 $60
Day of: $30

5K Run/Walk Come wearing white!
Register on
or in person at the OSH

The Society's 2012 Interns at last year's Run

Day Trip: Douglas Offers a Visit to Remember

Click HERE to read what the Kalmazoo Gazette has to say about the Society's Old School House an its surroundings in Douglas.

Casey Walle, summer intern from Western Michigan University, recently completed her goal of adding the Society's art collection of paintings and local scenes to our website. Visitors to the site will soon be able to view these paintings right on their own computers.

Thank you Casey for a job well done! We appreciate your dedication to see this through. We will miss you! Casey is pursuing a career in Anthropology.

                        submitted by Ken Kutzel and Mary Voss

Museum Exhibit Attendance Increases

So far this season attendance at the Museum's Dunelands exhibit is up 30% - an increase of over 1,100 visitors compared to last year.

Credit goes to the great Museum Design Team for an outstanding exhibition and to the more than 40 volunteer Museum Hosts who taken the time to greet, inform and educate our Museum’s visitors.

Special thanks to Brent Birkholz of the Harbor Duck Adventures, Marilyn Starring and the crew of the Star of Saugatuck as well lodging owners and merchants for encouraging their customers and guests to visit the Museum.

             submitted by Bill Hess, Museum Host Coordinator

Nature and Historic Walks

The docents of the Saugatuck Harbor Natural Area (SHNA), sponsored by the city of Saugatuck, are offering a series of hikes and talks about the Historic and Natural History of the area in and around the SHNA for the 2013 season.  Unless otherwise noted, the walks begin at the North End of the Oval Beach parking lot.

Aug 22 Thurs eve: 6:30 p.m. Historic View of Saugatuck from Mt. Baldhead. Meet at Mt. Baldhead, Leader: Jack Sheridan

Sept 15 Sun eve: 6:30 p.m.  Exploring the Saugatuck Harbor Natural Area. Leader: April Scholtz from the Land Conservancy of West Michigan.

Old School House Renovation Diary

During August, over a hundred pages and several hundred images from the Renovation Diary for the OSH have been restored to the Society's web site.

It's a valuable trip down Memory Lane. Click on the link for the Renovation Diary on the Society's Old School House web site page.

Korea - 60 Years Later
                                      by Chuck Rickett, Saugatuck

By the first of August 1950, the President and Congress had authorized a peacetime draft. Before my birthday on August 14th, I received my draft notice to report for induction into the Army in early September. I was inducted at Ft. Wayne in Detroit on Sept. 11, 1950, and was sent to Ft. Knox, KY. From there I was sent to Camp Custer in Battle Creek, MI, and assigned to an Anti-Aircraft Battalion for basic training, that was only eight weeks long. After basic training, I was reassigned to the same AA unit at Camp Custer as a Company Clerk, because I could type, and I had some office experience. After being assigned to the AA Battalion at Camp Custer, I applied for Officers Candidate School at the OCS school at Ft. Bliss, TX, but first I had to go to a Leadership Training School. Before I could be sent to a Leadership School, the AA Unit I was in received orders to go to the European Theater of operations. We were ordered to report to Camp Kilmer, NJ.

When I arrived in Camp Kilmer, I went to the Adjutant General Office, and pointed out that Army Regulations prevented the reassignment of any personnel out of the country, once you have been accepted in Officers Candidate School. At this time I was removed from the shipping orders to Germany, and put on temporary duty as a prison chaser. Camp Kilmer was located just outside of New Brunswick, N J, and was about a forty-five minute train ride to New York City. A prison chaser is a person who is sent to escort military personnel, who had been picked up by local authorities, back to a military base. Most of the personnel were AWOL as they did not want to leave the country, and simply did not report for duty on time. When not doing this, I would be free to go into NYC to see baseball games, or go to TV shows because the base would have a supply of tickets or free passes.

I was subsequently assigned to Leadership School at Ft. Dix NJ, that is just outside of Trenton, NJ, and only about thirty minutes from Sea Side Heights, NJ, where there is a famous board walk and an amusement park and great beaches. I was at Camp Kilmer in the spring and at Ft. Dix during the summer of 1951. I finished leadership school, and was waiting for assignment to Ft. Bliss, TX for OCS. The army changed the assignment, and I was sent to the Artillery OCS at Ft. Sill, OK, which is just outside Lawton, OK. I reported in early October, and was in class number ten. I started OCS, and because of the strenuous physical-exercise programs and the old high school back injury, I re-injured my back, and missed a week of classes, and became disillusioned with the program. I was also not pleased with the way candidates were treated by the upper classmates, and full time training personnel. The Army allowed a candidate to resign from OCS after six weeks. I did resign, along with another candidate that I had met at Ft. Dix who was from Detroit. We were given a two-week leave at Thanksgiving, and told to report to Ft. Lewis, WA that is near the Port of Embarkation in Seattle, WA

I was then sent to Camp Drake in Tokyo, and my friend was sent to Alaska. I arrived in Japan the day before Christmas, after having been on the troopship General Buckner for four days. I spent a week at Camp Drake, and then went to Korea, and arrived at Inchon on Dec, 30, 1951. I had been assigned to the 176th Field Artillery Battalion, which was camped north of Seoul near Panmunjon, where the Peace Talks were just getting started. The 176th was a self-propelled 155 MM Field Artillery Battalion that was supporting the Peace Talks. There were four forward batteries that fired their guns over Panmunjon, to keep the North Koreans from advancing or causing problems for the South Korean and American personnel that were conducting negotiations.

In Leadership School, I was a Corporal, and upon completion I was given the rank of Sergeant. I was assigned to the Headquarters Battery as a Sgt., and was in charge of the administrative record keeping of the Battalion. This unit was a National Guard unit from the Pennsylvania National Guard. It was federalized in the latter part of 1950, and was sent to Korea in early 1951. They had been on duty for almost a year when we arrived on Jan. l, 1952. Each of the batteries was from a different town in central Pennsylvania, and most of the personnel was related, or were close friends, or even members of the same families. We were the first replacement troops this unit had received since they had arrived in Korea and there were about fifty of us.

Chuck, with glasses, front left
Click on the picture for a higher resolution copy.

We were treated like kings, with a very special New Years Day meal that included Turkey and Ham with all of the trimmings, and freshly made ice cream. The Headquarters and Service Batteries were encamped in a large Korean park that had been used by the local people for picnics. It had a stream running through it and it also had a lot of stone animal and religious sculptures and stone benches. It took about a week to get familiar with our camp, and make all the assignments, and changes of personnel. We had portable showers a few miles away that we could use, however, because of the cold nighttime temperatures most of us took sponge baths. The daytime temperatures were in the 40's to 50's, but we had to clean up after dark and it was always below freezing after dark. We had a large metal Quonset type building that was used as the kitchen and dining facility, and it also served as a recreation hall for movies and card games in the evening.

I had the opportunity to go back to Seoul, on almost a weekly basis to secure supplies and payrolls. We were paid in military script and we had monthly alcohol and tobacco rations that I used for trading with other military personnel. In the eight months I spent in Korea, I was able to save almost $2,000 dollars by selling my rations. I used this money to buy a new car when I was discharged in September of 1952. We had cabin boys for each tent, who were Korean boys that were too young to be in their Army, and did not have an opportunity to go to school. The cabin boys would take care of the cleanup, and keeping the area policed. We provided them with room and board, and some spending money that they sent home to their families. Our cabin boy was Moon Suk. The tent we lived in had twelve men in each framed tent, and had wooden floor pallets that were made from Ammo Cases. We had some teenage Korean girls that would come each day and pickup laundry that needed washing. They would return the next day with it washed, ironed and folded. We stayed at this location for three months, and then received orders to strike our camp.

Click on the picture for a higher resolution copy.

We moved to central Korea, which was still engaged in more traditional types of warfare than we had been involved in up to that point. It took us an entire day to get to our new area that was only sixty-five miles away, and was located in North Korea on the Pukhan River. The river was about 300 yards wide, and there were North Korean troops on the other side of the river. Again, we would only fire our guns during the night hours, as that was when the North Koreans would try to advance under the cover of night.

During the days we would attend to all of the other things that had to be done to maintain the battalion. This location was north of Chunchon, as we were north of the 38th parallel. We were between the Iron Triangle and Heartbreak Ridge, which were famous battle areas in the early part of the war. It was very mountainous, and we used to go exploring in the hills behind our camp, and find all kinds of things left from the retreating troops. Occasionally we would find the remains of a North or South Korean or Chinese soldier. The Master Sergeant of our Headquarters Battery was sent back to the states on an emergency leave, and was gone for almost two months. During his leave I held the temporary rank of Master Sergeant and was responsible for all of the administrative activities of our unit. Shortly after his return, I received orders to go to Japan for the trip back to the United States. I spent a week in Sasebo, Japan before going to Yokohama to board a troop ship home. The trip back took seven days, and there were over five thousand personnel on the ship. When we arrived in Seattle, we went directly to Camp Carson in Colorado Springs, CO, where I was discharged on Sep. 2, 1952.

Are there other of our readers with their own memories of the Korean Conflict? This 60th anniversary year of the signing of the Korean Armistice is a good time to document them. Send them in to Chris Yoder at or call 269-857-4327.

Chuck Rickett, a long-time Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society Member, is a veteran of the Korean Conflict. He is a former Councilman and Mayor of Saugatuck, has been active in Friends of the Library and many other local charities and in 2012 he and his wife Patricia were Saugatuck Citizens of the Year.

The Map Revolution at the History Center

Intern Troy Prill with one of the two 1907 "Birds Eye" maps now on display at the Old School House History Center

Do we have a complicated geography? You bet. How many ways can you use a map to uncover bits and pieces of our Saugatuck and Douglas area geography and history? Check them out.

The Old School House History Room has a collection of 18 fascinating maps.

Here you will find a newly installed set of giant 6 ft x 5 ft Douglas and Saugatuck "Bird’s Eye" wall maps showing everything from orchards and factories to street and building layouts as existed in 1907. Along with 15 large mounted maps from different periods - many of them being illustrated vacationland-poster type. And, of course there is what must the best of the best of Michigan small-town maps: the giant SuperMap tied to a computer that leads one to over 100 stories.

The Bird's Eye maps are recycled from the Museum Exhibition of 2010-11. Thanks to Mike and Teresa Zelenka, our super volunteer wallpaper installers. The History Center is open daily 11-4, except Monday.      submitted by Jim Schmiechen

Don't miss the "Washed Ashore" display at the Museum's "Dunelands" Exhibit


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

Individual $30
Household $50
Premium $250
Corporate $500
Life $1,000
Senior (65+) $20
Senior Household $35
Student $5

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-Douglas Historical Society History 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 2013 exhibit is titled:

This year's all-new exhibition at the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society Museum, offers a multifaceted look at the Kalamazoo River duneland and its archeological, historical, environmental, social and recreational significance, in contrasting tales of change and permanence. The Museum occupies the historic Saugatuck Pump House at 735 Park Street, in a scenic garden setting along the west shore of the Kalamazoo River at Mt. Baldhead Park, a short walk north from the Saugatuck Chain Ferry landing. Admission and nearby parking are free.

Titled "Dunelands: Footprints on the Sand", the exhibition will celebrate our piece of the world's largest freshwater dunes system in the world, according to Museum Curator Dr. James Schmiechen. "It's a marvelous collaboration of restless beaches, rolling forests and ravines, hidden streams, ponds and marshland habitats," he says. "This exhibition tells of how they came to be, how human activity has changed them and how people have changed in response to them, while giving special attention to historic sites scattered across the area and how history has set the stage for today's vibrant local community."

Researched and written by Schmiechen, and designed by Society volunteers Judy Hillman and Sally Winthers, the exhibition pulls together an array of photographs, artifacts and stories, set before a sweeping 50 x 10ft. mural dunescape captured by local photographer James Cook, intended to visually transport the viewer outdoors.

Informative wall panels weave text and graphics together to view the dunes from three different perspectives: The Preservationist's Notebook surveys 12 nearby "critical dune" sites with an eye toward "best use" protection of the natural environment while allowing appropriate public access; The Photographer's Notebook presents aerial views of local shoreline geography by Chicago photographer Bill Werme, documenting changes resulting from both natural and human causes; The Archeologist & Historian's Notebook, recalls the late 1800s "lumber rush" that disregarded nature, creating millionaires but sentencing the village of Singapore to its ultimate burial by shifting dunes.

Another series of wall panels presents a compilation of photos taken along dune trails, accompanied by hiker quotes revealing personal impressions and expressing thoughts inspired by their duneland experiences.

Centerpiece of the exhibition is a simulated "Dunelands Trail", marked by trail-stop signposts showing and describing a variety of sites encountered on an imagined hike through the dunes, including: Dune Rides; Goshorn Lake & Dune; New Harbor & Basin; Old Harbor & Lighthouse; Fishtown; Oxbow Art School & Lagoon; Pier Cove; The Oval; Mt. Baldhead; and Lake Shore Chapel.

Hovering above it all is "Beachcomber's Folly" a whimsical-while-thought-provoking hanging sculpture by Saugatuck artist Ted Reyda. The colorful composition was meticulously assembled from thousands of items that were washed up on local beaches and collected by Reyda over more than 20 years. Below, Reyda transforms other types of manmade flotsam into spherical standing artworks. In their own playful way, all serve to raise serious questions about human carelessness regarding our environment and disregard for protecting nature's gifts. Museum guests will find themselves silently drawn to interact with Reyda's art by identifying its components . . .sometimes obvious, sometimes not.

Augmenting the Historical Society's exhibits is a video display created by the Saugatuck High School students of art teacher Christa Wise, inspired by the work of British sculptor Andy Goldsworthy, known for combining natural materials such as twigs, stone, thorns, mud and pinecones into temporary in-situ constructions that weather the elements and return to nature.

After watching "Rivers and Tides", a 2001 documentary featuring Goldsworthy at work, the class set out to Oval Beach and the dunes to create site-specific sculpture and land-art using whatever they found. Their short video, in the style of "Rivers and Tides", documents the students' efforts to follow in Goldsworthy's footsteps, in the process discovering (in the words of one student) "how difficult it is to even begin to approach the quality of his work".

Activities supported by a grant from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs
and the National Endowment for the Arts


The Museum is open to the public daily from noon to 4 pm through Labor Day, then on weekends from noon to 4 pm in September and October. Click HERE to learn more about the Museum and recent past exhibits.

The Old School House History Center and Lifeboat Display at 130 Center Street in Douglas is open to visitors Tuesday through Sunday from 11 am to 4 pm until August 17.

The Society's Technology Center is located in the lower level of the Old School House History Center at 130 Center Street in downtown Douglas.

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

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