JUNE  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.

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

l July 2: Mike Sweeney, Michigan’s Hottest Town. Procol Harum, Alice Cooper, and others invade Saugatuck. Sponsored by Janie & Jim Flemming and Harbor Duck Adventures, Brent Birkholz

l July 9: Mary Jo Lemanski, Looking at Dune Formation as Abstract Art. Sponsored by Beachway Resort, Doug & Debbie West, and Robin Bauer, Realtor, Shoreline Realtors
l July 16: Kimberly Hall, Climate Change and West Michigan. Sponsored by Wells Street Consulting - Valerie Atkin
l July 23: April Scholtz, The Secret life of the Blanding Frog and Other Duneland Nature Stories Sponsored by Bill Hess & Mike Mattern to Celebrate the City of Saugatuck's Saugatuck Harbor Natural area
l July 30: Ken Kutzel & Dave Ball, Saugatuck and Douglas Art Discoveries & the Art of Restoration. Sponsored by Larry & Shirley Akins and Floyd Fleming
l August 6: The State Park Hikers, To the Dunes: Photos Stories from A State Park Hiking Group. Sponsored by Sharon Kelly and Janie & Jim Flemming

l August 13: Elizabeth Chodos, Ox-Bow: Living In Sand For Over 100 Years. Sponsored by Monty Collins & Jerry Dark
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

July 10: Low-Key Genius: O.C. Simonds and his Pier Cove Simonds was one of America's most important landscapers - and had an enormous impact on our West Michigan. Meet the author, Barbara Gieger. Wine & cheese social time.

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.

Fr. G. Corwin Stoppel on the
Society's 2013 Museum Exhibit
reprinted with permission Fr. Stoppel from a recent edition of The Commercial Record

Pat and I joined several hundred other Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society members attending the opening of this year's Pump House Museum exhibition.

In a word, it's magnificent. Those who worked on it showed again why the SDHS and museum are acknowledged across the state as among the best.

From the start, this museum has been a cooperative effort between the City of Saugatuck, which owns the building and leases it to the society for a dollar, to the friends and members who upgraded the facility and produce new displays each year.

Back when the museum was still an idea, SDHS president Pat Dewey led members into making a philosophical decision not to make it like everyone’s basement or attic, cluttered with "inventory."

No two-man saws used by someone's great-uncle "Snoozer" to cut up the tree that fell in a big windstorm several decades ago. No collection of antique drawer pulls or doorknobs. Those relics might be of supreme interest to someone, but this museum would be different.

It has remained so. Past yearly themes have studied local architecture, complete with a large-scale replica of the Big Pavilion as a centerpiece. One year it was an exhaustive study of "Mr. Lincoln’s Ready-Made Soldiers" - the men who served in the Union Army during the Civil War. Another year it was an exhibit of Ox-Bow artists . . . some of the "interesting" characters who lived here, and so on.

It is one thing to come up with the latest great idea. Give anyone time doing something that doesn't take concentration, such as lawn mowing, and we all have them. The real test is following through to convert an idea, refine it a few times over and make it a reality. Then, when it’s something large and ambitious, being able to play with others.

It's an achievement to do that one time. For the SDHS to do it year after year is a tribute to members and the wider community.

In recent years the museum has added a beautiful entry way in memory of the late Stan Wilson. More than that, volunteers have maintained it the gardens. On the way into the building there are outdoor learning stations to point out places of interest and significance along that stretch of the Kalamazoo River.

So here's the sales pitch. Go see the show - and take time to reflect on its wall and floor displays. The rewards are rich and admission's free.

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 June 20
Thursday July 11
Thursday July 25

Due to the July 4th holiday, meetings in July are moved to the second and fourth Thursday of the month. The time and place are always 3:30 in the Old School House.

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. I am getting a steady feedback of 40-50 possible matches each week. The matches have identified many distant cousins but no EUREKA! moment to report yet. Stay tuned.

I think of a family tree as just that – the trunk, branches and twigs. It consists of connections, names and dates. Interesting yes, but the tree must bear fruit to be truly appreciated. The fruit consists of information about the folks that populate the tree! Who were they, their failures and successes, their occupations, the story of their lives, what did they look like? Truly, an “only photo” is worth a thousand words!

Here is what I mean. Yesterday Sherry Smith Coupe forwarded me an email she received as a result of building her tree on Her great great grandfather was Humphrey Smith born in Massachusetts in 1811. This was a EUREKA! moment for her.

The email said: I'm a descendant of Bunyan, brother to Humphrey. Last year at our family 4th of July picnic, my cousin loaned me 4 photo albums to scan. They were in the attic at the farm. I have pics of Humphrey & wife Sophronia - they were labeled with names (also have posted them online). They are engraved with Chicago IL. I have one pic of a young man, with Chicago IL on the back, but no name. I was wondering if you maybe had pics & could identify him? I would be glad to email this pic to you. Thanks, Deb Lowell (Waugh family)

Think about it and remember if you want to discover your family history, but have not known where and how to begin, our SDHS Family History group wants to help you.

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.

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.

Click on the picture for a higher resolution copy.

A Basin Tour

The setting of this photo, known as the Basin, is where it all started in the fall of 1830. First settlers William Butler, wife Mary, and two young children camped near here after being dropped off by the schooner Madison. They built a raft and poled it upriver to build a trading post in the area of Saugatuck today.

The photo location is not obvious. So in your imagination follow the shoreline to the left and within fifty yards you are on the south pier of the channel to Lake Michigan. At the time of this photo, a hundred years ago, the piers were made of wood but their location was the same as today. Cross over the river to the north side of the channel and you are on the now well known McClendon property. A sheet piling retaining wall lines the river bank upriver toward Saugatuck. Behind that wall is sand fill.

However, at the time of this photo and before, the shoreline curved further to the northeast before joining the present day shoreline [near the point you see a two story house in the photo]. The sand fill – placed there by Frank Denison maybe thirty years ago – covers part of the area today. This area was the location of the Singapore waterfront, lumber mills, and the Village of Singapore.

The bathers are posing on sand left behind from the digging of the new channel in 1905-06. As you see, the same sand pushed by the prevailing wind, covers the old river course for a hundred yards to the right. A short walk today leads to the Old Harbor lagoon.

In the late 1800s David Cook, a wealthy businessman from Chicago, began to buy the surrounding property on both sides of the river. It was Cook, over a twenty year period, who acquired contiguous parcels which made up the property. Cook’s family sold it to David Bennett in the 1940s and the Bennett estate sold it to Frank Denison in the 1950s. Aubrey McClendon bought it from the Denison estate. The buildings just visible across the river were built by the Cook family in the early 1900s.

More on Franklin Augustus Denison next month.

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 - an impressive list.
l David & Ellen Heyer, Western Springs, IL & Saugatuck, MI
l Thomas Morris, Fennville, MI
l Sandra Jensen & Thomas Mooney, Saugatuck, MI
l Jay & Beth Hernly, Douglas, MI
l Patricia Meyer, Hudsonville, MI
l Bob Ruddy & Gene Coburn, Douglas, MI
l Henry & Lynn Zavislak. Douglas, MI
l Elizabeth Chodos, Saugatuck, MI

And members who renewed their membership as Life Members.
l Tim Wood & Wendy Colsen

Nancy Boylan

Nancy Boylan, a Life Member of the Society, passed away recently. Click HERE for more details.

Jean Flanigan Clark

Jean Flanigan Clark, a Life Member of the Society, passed away recently. Click HERE for more details.

Civil War Photo Discovered

When Sgt. Levi Tutle (1829-1921) died in Saugatuck at the age of 92, he was one of the last Civil War survivors in our area. He had served in Company L, 4th Michigan Calvary and had lived in Heath Township at the time of enlistment. He is renowned for having been present at the capture of Jefferson Davis on May 10, 1865 at Irwinsville, Ga. Sgt. Tuttle was later placed in charge of the 22 man detachment which escorted the Confederate President from Macon, GA to his imprisonment at “Fortress Monroe” (now Ft. Monroe), VA. You would think that the historical society would have a photo of a person with such an interesting story and long life, but none has surfaced until now.

The newly discovered photo of Levi Tuttle

Thanks to Nancy Robison, a "Find-A-Grave" correspondent from California for sharing this wonderful photo. Barry Johnson, of Cleveland, Tenn., found an old bible in a bookstore in Chattanooga which had information and photos of her great-great grandfather Gurdin N. Kenyon. Mr. Johnson tracked down Nancy as a living descendant. Nancy writes that “inside had Obit, descendants charts, old clipping, etc from the Kenyons. He sent me some photos by e-mail. There were photos of 3 CW soldiers: Levi Tuttle, Charles L Knight and Edward Reed. They all served in Co L, 4th Michigan Calvary with my 2nd Great- grandfather.” How this bible made the trip from California, where the family all lived, to Tennessee remains a mystery.

Levi married twice but left children when he died. He shares a tombstone in the Taylor Cemetery, Ganges, with his second wife Amelia, but his part of the stone does not have a death date. There was no one living to arrange to have his date of death added.

The death notice at the time commented that as a member of the J. M. Pond Post G.A.R. it was "his duty to read the burial service at Grand Army funerals, and on every occasion, notwithstanding his advanced age, it was his custom to repeat the long ritual from memory in a most impressive manner.”

Company L was commanded by Captain Benjamin D. Pritchard, of Allegan and 1st. Lieutenant Isaac Lamoreaux, of Manilus Twp. Saugatuck soldiers shown in the company roster included:
Allen Ash, (1835-1907 bur. Selma, MI)
Henry C. Braman, (1834-1893- bur. Hutchins Cem.)
William M. Oliver, (1836-1914- bur. Douglas Cem.)
Jonathan D. Squires (possibly bur. Van Buren Co, MI)

And from Ganges Township
Ira F. Austin, (d. 1863, bur. New Albany National Cem, IN)
William H. Baker,
Edwin R. Crawford, (d. 1863 of disease, Breadsville, MI, buried Plummerville Cem.)
William H. Elsworth,
John C. Evarts,
Andrew T. Foot, (d. 1863, bur. Nashville National Cem.)
Alexander N. Fry, (1841-1905, bur. Taylor Cem.)
Lewis C. Goodrich,
David H. Hall, (1836-1915, bur. Rochester Cem.Topeka, KS)
Hiram B. Hudson, (1834-1909, bur. Fairview Cem, Mancelona, MI)
George F. Nichols, (1833-1877, bur. Taylor Cem.)
Lyman R. Warren, (POW at Andersonville)

Edward Reed of Monterey Twp, Allegan Co. (1835-1905, bur. Westside Cem., Hubbardston, MI)
                               contributed by Chris Yoder

The Final "Dining Around The Village Table" Event for the Season is Just a Few Days Away - Get Your Tickets NOW!!

 Celebration of the Arts Home Tour
Sunday, June 30, 2013 | 1 to 5pm
Tickets $40 per person
Hosted by B.J. Silverstone
2450 Lakeshore Drive, Fennville

You won't want to miss this one! Come stroll the home, gardens and grounds of B.J. Silverstone's eclectic Fennville home, nestled in a wooded 5 acres on a bluff overlooking Lake Michigan at 2450 Lakeshore Drive, a bit north of M-89. The house, hers since the 1960s, has been extended over the years to include a two story studio, rambling rooms and decks, with a rustic interior decorated in barnwood, stone and shingles, wood carvings, ceramics, metalwork, art and curious artifacts, expansive yet cozy and inviting, a fascinating feast for the eyes.

Colorfully costumed docents will greet and direct guests, while a variety of appetizers and sweets will be served, along with wine, beer and spirits including new Red Streak Hard Cider donated by Fennville's recently established Virtue Cider.

In the studio, two cabaret shows (2pm and 3:30pm) will present music, magic and drama performed by area theatre guild members, with B.J. herself as Master of Ceremonies.

Roaming the grounds you'll come across a badminton court, wildflower garden with a gazebo and frog pond, plus a 100-year-old log cabin "playhouse" and guest room, with some of its original furnishings. You'll also encounter twelve plien-air artists at work, and have an opportunity to bid for their works in an auction at 4:30, with the proceeds donated to the Historical Society. At the bluff's edge, enjoy a deck view of the lake and beach below. An electric taxi will be available for those needing help moving around the property.

Along the bluff adjacent to the Silverstone property, the home/studio complex of the late artist Bill Olendorf will be open to party guests, exhibiting a selection of his last paintings. On the central deck of the complex, a six-piece student jazz band from South Haven High School will provide a musical ambiance for the event.

With all food and beverages donated by event hosts, guest charges will support the Historical Society's volunteer-based programs and activities including exhibitions at its Pump House Museum in Saugatuck and its Old School House History Center / "Back-In-Time Garden Pathway" in Douglas.

For information and reservations,
phone 269.857.5751 or e-mail

Kicks Off July 1

The Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society will again be participating in the ArtsAlive! Competition,. Voting begins July 1 and runs until September 2. Thanks to community support, last year we finished in second place. These crucial funds helped underwrite the amazing new Pump House Museum Exhibit, the Old School House and its Gallery, the Boathouse and Back-In-Time Garden. Not to mention Monthly Meetings and Tuesday Talks. Keep History Alive Here!

The Keep Your ArtsAlive! is an arts and cultural competition of the Allegan County Community Foundation. It was created to engage and encourage our community to support the rich arts and cultural offerings we have in Allegan County. Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society is one of 12 organizations competing this year. The organizations compete to see who can receive the most votes.

Each vote costs one dollar. 100% of each voting dollar comes back to us at the end of the competition. Please vote for Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society. Your votes can help the Society finish in the top five where each of the organizations receives prize money.

Past ArtsAlive! funds have allowed the Society to raise over $25,000. Last year we came in second place. If you voted last year - thank you!

Beginning July 1 you may vote online or pick up an envelope at the Old School House or Pump House Museum.

There are 3 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
3) Download QR Reader on your smart phone and scan image below to take you directly to the voting page.

Please take a moment to vote and keep your arts alive in Allegan County.  submitted by Kelsie King

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.

June 27 Thurs eve., 7:15  p.m. Exploring the Old Harbor from the South side of the SHNA. Meet at Mt. Baldhead Leader: Kay Smalley

July 11 Thurs 7:15 p.m. Geology and Ecology of the SHNA. Leaders: Brian Yurk and Suzanne DeVries-Zimmerman from Hope College

July 25 Thurs eve: 6:45 p.m. View from Crow’s Nest - Vistas of the Saugatuck Harbor Natural Area. Meet at Mt. Baldhead, Leader: Frank Lamb

Aug 8 Thurs eve: 6:45 p.m. Exploring the South side of the SHNA. Meet at Mt. Baldhead, Leaders: Kay Smalley and Connie Deam

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.

Society Gift Shop

The Saugatuck Douglas Historical Society now has its own satellite gift shop, in a charming booth at the Blue Star Antique Pavilion in Douglas, Michigan. In its third month, the venture makes available Historical Society publications, sweat and T shirts, note cards, historic area photo images, posters, and some vintage and antique items donated as fund-raisers.

Our special items are now available to a large customer base on a regular basis. Please stop in and see the little "shop" which was set up by members, Ken Kutzel and Mary Voss.

Hours of operation are from 10 am until 6pm, seven days a week. Blue Star is located at 2948 Blue Star Highway, next to the Saugatuck Brewing Company. For more information on donating small items for sale, please contact Ken at 269-857-4475.         submitted by Mary Voss and Ken Kutzel

Big Pavilion Soda Shop Malted Milk Machine

Bonnie Ver Wys recently donated a machine that she used to make malted milk shakes while working at The Dock Restaurant in the 1950s. The Dock was located in the lower level of the Big Pavilion in downtown Saugatuck (1909-1960.)

Bonnie was brought up in Douglas and began working as a waitress at The Dock when she was 17 years old. It was definitely the meeting place for many area young people. Including several well-known Holland High School young men. Don Hildebrands, John Bos and Edgar Prins, would come to Saugatuck to water-ski and date the local girls.

It was a fun time for her. She especially recalls the boat loads of politicians who would arrive from Chicago to eat the big porter house steaks they served there. Tips were good too, she remembers the day she made $100. A goodly amount in the 1950s.

When the Dock Restaurant closed, she asked for the malted milk machine. It reminded her of all the good times she spent there. We thank her for this great donation!

Bonnie currently operates a Bed and Breakfast Inn in Holland called, "The Parsonage."       submitted by Mary Voss

Garden Happenings

How does our garden grow? Well in one word BEAUTIFULLY! It is nice, finally, to see our garden take shape with all kinds of color, texture and blooms. More is yet to come.

We, the Landscape Committee, decided it was high time we become more "transparent" when it comes to the garden, therefore every newsletter we will provide a little update. Here it goes! John Migas and Lee VerSchure are busy doing spring maintenance and clean-up. It is an endless job! Also they will be working on installing the rest of the benches, our Azalea garden by Mt Baldhead, our "new" pump, and perhaps a sensory garden or two . . . depending on our budget.

We are eagerly awaiting the installation of the Mt. Baldhead and our Architectural Station graphics, as well as, our amazing Bike Rack designed by the High School Students.

We need to make everything perfect for the wedding in September. Thank you Janet Schmidt for letting this happen. What a beautiful place to be married! Many thanks, also, to our weed patrol for helping out with the unending job of weeding. Thanks to Tom and Judy Anthrop for donating the concrete planters. They really nestled into their new home nicely. And a HUGE thanks to the Society and all of you for your patience, trust, and MONEY in letting us do our job.

See you next month. The Landscape Committee

Restored Totem Pole at Old School House Garden

Recently, a totem pole historic to the Saugatuck/Douglas area was added to the "Back-in-Time Garden" at the Old School House History Center, 130 Center Street in Douglas.

The totem pole stood as a decoration in front of the Chamber of Commerce on Lake Street until about 35 years ago. The totem was going to be destroyed because of its height when the Chamber of Commerce relocated.

Saugatuck resident Henry Gleason and his son Bruce then rescued the totem as it had become a landmark to the area and they did not want to see it destroyed when it was moved from its original location. The Chamber of Commerce could no longer keep the totem in their new location downtown.

The totem was originally created by Deb Hoffman Reeves. According to Society historian and museum curator Jim Schmiechen, it is known as "fake folk" art, meaning the object was created by someone not part of the cultural world from which the art practice came.

The object was created to "honor" our Native American past. Although a totem was not part of local Indian tradition, it is prominent in western native cultures.

Schmiechen said, "We are in contact with the original artist, Deb Hoffman, and hope to have some more history about it soon."

The Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society acquired the totem through a gift from the Chamber of Commerce as it was recently returned as a gift from Gleason. The totem had been preserved in storage by Gleason's friend Linus Starring since its rescue.

SDHS developed a Research-Consultants-Restoration-installation team to help with the process from acquiring the totem to installing it in the garden where it now stands. Restoration included preserving peeling paint as well as repainting. Society volunteers Arnie Shafer, Howard Vanderbeck, Judy Hillman, Vic Bella and Jim Schmeichen were part of the installation team. Help was given by Society volunteers Dick Bont, Jim Bouck and Steve Hutchens.

The Back-In-Time Garden is open daily to guests who wish to view the totem pole. Although Old School House hours are from 11-4 Tuesday to Sunday, the garden is accessible to visitors at any time. The totem now stands in the back right corner of the garden. While viewing the garden, visitors will be reminded of the strong history alive in Saugatuck and Douglas.
    submitted by Kelsie King, 2013 Society Young Scholar

John Migas Leads Garden Tour

After one rain delay, John Migas lead a group of about 40 Historical Society Members through his Woodland Nursery on May 30th. With the azaleas near their peak, John's gardens were a delightful wonderland of colors.

John has been instrumental in the establishing the "Back-In-Time Garden" at the Old School House. He began his gardens in the late 1980s, mentored by the late Saugatuck landscape architect Charles Mann of "The Flower Basket."

He is the immediate past President of the American Azalea Society and is a nationally recognized authority on azaleas and rhododendrons.

                                           submitted by Chris Yoder

Barb Crandell Memorial

A memorial for Barb Crandell will take place on Saturday, July 6th from 2:00 to 4:00 PM at the  Beech-Hurst Farmhouse, 121 Ferry Street in Douglas just beyond the back of the Haworth Plant.

Barb never missed a Tuesday Talk or Museum opening! A Life Member of the Society, who loved to talk about her family's summer life in Douglas.


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


Dunelands Exhibit Sponsors

dunelands panorama sponsor
Jim Sellman - Shoreline Realtors

beachcomber folly sponsors
Jim & Janie Flemming
Ken Carls & Jim Schmiechen

hiking trail sponsors
Ken Altman
Sharon Kelly
Deb & Doug West

notebook sponsors
Wendy Colsen & Tim Wood
Donna & Tom Farrington
Bill Hess & Mike Mattern
Susan Reck
Nancy & John Schmitt
Jill & Jon Winston

children’s activities sponsor
Grand Rapids Buddhist Temple

trailstop sponsors
Shirley & Larry Akins
Jon Helmrich & Stephen Mottram
Hidden Garden Cottages & Suites
Korson Financial Services
Candice Lewis
Priscilla & Jim Lynch
Patrick Murphy Builders
Judy Oberholtzer
ROAN & BLACK . . . art and objects
Tracey Shafroth & Mike Elam
Timber Bluff
Renee Zita

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.

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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