Friday, August 22 at
Lobsters & More on the Lovely Lakeshore
$100 per person
This summer feast will be hosted by Jan and Dave
Ryder at their fabulous home (completed 4 years ago) just off
The evening will start with appetizers and drinks on
the pool deck overlooking the lake. Adventurous gamblers can walk
down the 20 steps to the beach and bet on the lobster races. Stacy
Honson and her team will serve up a shellfish boil of lobster,
shrimp and more. (For those with shellfish allergies, we've got you
covered with beer-butt chickens hot off the grill.)
As the sun sets over the lake, enjoy after dinner
drinks with pies baked especially for this occasion by Jan at Earl's
This will be the event of the summer and there are
only 48 seats for sale. Dress casual. $100 per person. See you at
This event will sell out quickly. To reserve
your spot at the table, REPLY to this email and we'll be in touch.
Saturday, September 20 at 7:00 PM
Cocktails at the Historic Riley-
Heirloom Lane in Douglas)
$50 per person
This is a unique opportunity to get a glimpse inside
the well-preserved Riley-Slack-Ellis House, built ca. 1880 by
carpenter and joiner Thomas A. Riley*.
Join hosts Michigan Supreme Court Justice Bridget
Mary McCormack and her husband Steven Croley for a cocktail party in
their historic home. $50 per person
*Riley was killed in the Civil War, and his widow,
Fidelia, continued to live in the house after she married another
Civil War veteran, Anthony Slack. Subsequently, their daughter,
married to Claude Ellis, a lake ship's captain, continued to occupy
the house, thus keeping it in the same family for generations.
your ticket, REPLY to this email
and we'll be in touch.
Saturday, October 4 at 6:00 PM
An evening at DollyBrook Resort
$50 per person
DollyBrook Resort is a 2011 Heritage Preservation Award winner and a
must see for everyone. Park once and stroll the nine cottages at
your own pace. Each cottage will serve cocktails and one of the
following: Appetizers, Soups, Salads, or Dessert.
Mix and mingle with
friends and enjoy each cottage's fabulously unique decor featuring
local artifacts and antiques. The cottages will be hosted by
different members of the Society doing the cooking and serving up the
cocktails. Make this event a "must do" on your list of fall
your ticket, REPLY to this email
and we'll be in touch.
Saturday, October 25 - 7:30 PM
at the Old School House
$50 per person
The annual Halloween party has become a favorite for many members
and friends of the Society. This year's party will be hosted by
Sharon Kelly and Janie Flemming. Don your costume (or not) and come
to the Old School House for drinks and dinner preceding the
fantastic Douglas Halloween Parade.
If you would like to reserve
your spot for one of these upcoming Dine Around
events, REPLY to this email and we'll be in touch.
Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society is again participating in the ArtsAlive!
Competition. Voting started on July 1 and runs until September 2.
Thanks to community support, we finished in second place the past
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 17
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 the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society.
Your votes can help the Society finish in the top five where each of
the organizations receives prize money.
There are two easy ways to help us
finish first this year:
1) Go to www.artsaliveallegancounty.org and vote on-line
2) If you haven't already received an ArtsAlive! envelope in
the mail, you will be getting one soon.
Please take a
moment to vote and keep your arts alive in Allegan County.
Traveler Magazine, April 2014 Article "Sommer am See"
May 2014 Society Newsletter, there was an article from a
German magazine titled "Sommer am See". Kathy Klage, a Society
member has created an English translation synopsis of the article.
"SUMMER ON THE LAKESHORE"
As thoughts of summer approach, the Gay community
living in the Midwest of America is drawn to Saugatuck-Douglas --- 2
small idyllic towns on the shore of Lake Michigan.
New York has Fire Island, Boston has Provincetown,
Los Angeles has Palm Springs and San Francisco has Russian River
Valley. Gay Americans living in the Middle West in cities like
Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis & Cleveland often spend their summer
vacation on the shore of Lake Michigan, specifically the twin towns
of Saugatuck-Douglas. These 2 small, idyllic & neatly manicured
towns lie on opposite banks of the Kalamazoo River. When the heat is
blistering in the big cities during July & August, a pleasant breeze
is blowing off Lake Michigan. Oval Beach, considered one of the most
beautiful fresh-water beaches in the U.S., lies only a few
kilometers from the city centers of Saugatuck & Douglas. Just east
of the lovely lakeshore, sand dunes rise up to met the hill-top
forests. Although not officially sanctioned, for many decades gays &
lesbians would gather throughout the numerous acres of the dunes to
sunbathe in the nude. So often in history the gay community
gravitated toward small, off-the-beaten-path places which allowed
them to create artistic & free spirited communities often nestled in
nature. Today anyone can meander down the friendly main streets of
Saugatuck and Douglas and greet one another on the corners of the
streets which are lined with art galleries, antique shops, and
owner-operated stores for food, spices, wine, olive oil & fruit
From here the article goes on to explain in detail
several specific attractions in our towns & community members
affiliated with them. The list includes but is not limited to the
Old School House and our favorite curator/historian Jim Schmiechen
--- also the Dunes Resort & owners Mike, Danny & Greg.
The author informs his readers that the official
season begins Memorial Day weekend & runs thru the end of Labor Day
weekend. He also writes that even though the season has ended, the
City of Douglas hosts a Halloween parade which draws a large gay
community involvement. He further recommends reservations for
weekend B&B accommodations.
Welcome from Jack Sheridan
and Chris Yoder, leaders of the Society Family History Group. The
Group's regular meeting schedule is the first and third Thursday
of every month. Upcoming meetings are:
Thursday, July 24
Thursday, August 7
Thursday, August 21
Please visit us to see what
we are all about and most importantly, share "lessons learned"
about the many tools available for family history research.
One of the major tools we
utilize is access to ANCESTRY.COM. If you are a
member of the SDHS and the SDHS Family History Group, access to
their billions of records is a membership benefit to you.
If you do not belong to our
SDHS group, and do not wish to have your own subscription to
Ancestry.com there are still substantial no-cost benefits
available from Ancestry.com. These benefits are:
- Build your family tree on
- Provide access to that tree for family and friends
- Have access to millions of records in free databases
- Utilize Ancestry.com
- RootsWeb message boards
- Get experience with the process of building your tree
- Have fun researching your family history
In addition Ancestry.com has
assembled a wealth of information on various family history
research topics in video form on "youtube". Click
HERE for an example.
Remember, your family
history does not have to have any connection to the
Saugatuck-Douglas area !!!
Not sure how to get going?
Let us provide a helpful jump start by recording what you know
about your parents, grandparents, and great grandparents and send
it along for a review by Chris Yoder or myself. The snail mail
address is SDHS Family History, Box 617, Douglas, Michigan 49406,
or email a copy to either
We will soon be back to you
with readily found data and with suggestions on the next steps to
take. Further help is readily available from the Family History
group. Again, the only requirement is membership in the SDHS.
Revolutionary War vet, great grandparents? Still wondering?
Questions/comments/advice/needs - contact
269 857-7144 Chris Yoder
email@example.com 269 857-4327.
This newsletter column is
produced by Jack Sheridan
Click on the picture for a
higher resolution copy
Big Pavilion - The
Big spenders from
Chicago and St. Louis sparked the summer economy and, in spite
of the depression, Saugatuck and the Big Pavilion remained a
bright spot on the west shore of Lake Michigan. Good
management, hard work and innovation paid off. Instead of
having one orchestra perform all summer, name bands were
brought in to perform in weekly succession. Special events
were broadcast live and direct from the floor of the dance
hall. Souvenirs were offered as a come-on. "Bank of Joy" night
offered cash prizes. On "Lindberg Night" 2000 toy airplanes
were dropped from the rafters. In 1930, the movie theater
installed a sound system, cushioned seats and an Arctic Nu-Air
circulating air system. The movie feature changed nightly.
When Elmer Deac Weed –
he had run the place for three decades - died in 1936, George
F. Barrett, an investor and prominent Chicago attorney, became
active, along with sons George, Robert and Tom. In 1938 the
Barretts obtained a liquor license and created "The Dock". The
Dock was a bar and restaurant with organ music and was located
below the dance floor in the northwest quadrant of the
The décor was elegant –
paneled and polished walls and a marble top bar in front of a
mirrored wall. The river side wall had windows looking out on
a wide boardwalk-dock. A posh place indeed: "Sparkling drinks,
charcoal broiled dinners and entertainment ---” the ads
touted. Walkers on the dock lusted to the sound of the Hammond
organ music and the odor of beer and sizzling steaks.
On summer weekends, a
Big Pavilion berth was reputed to be the choicest mooring spot
on the Great Lakes. For weekend fun, what more did a yachtsman
need? They came --- and made the Big Pavilion and The Dock a
Click on the picture for a
higher resolution copy
This newsletter column is written by Jack Sheridan.
Rod Aiken, a
member of the Society, passed away recently.
HERE for more details.
Welcome New Members
We would like to welcome the following new members who have joined the
Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society since the last newsletter.
Arthur & Susan Lanciers, Douglas, MI
Don & Laurie Bradley, Saugatuck, MI & Nashville, TN
Christina Lewis, Saugatuck, MI
Phillip & Carol Carra, Fennville, MI
Andrew Plummer, Douglas, MI
Two new May Heath Paintings Unsurfaced
As a part of a couple years effort to celebrate the golden anniversary of the death of Saugatuck
historian May Heath, we collected images of a number of her
paintings and placed them in their own
"photo blog". We have just received two additional
images of her works.
The first is a seascape owned by Diana Beardsley of
Orland Park, IL (John Sanford’s sister).
The second is owned by Ray Diffenderffer of Ganges
Township. It belonged to his Grandmother Helen who was a good friend
May's 1930 book Early Memories of Saugatuck,
Michigan 1830 to 1930 was reprinted by the Society in 2011,
with an added index, photographs, and introduction by her
great-grandchildren. Mrs. Heath's book had long been looked upon as
one of the most valuable resources on local history and is available
at Society bookstores.
10th Anniversary of the
2004 Museum Exhibit
Tales of the Villages
Just click on the poster to enter the web site for
the Society's 2004 Museum Exhibit. It will bring back memories to
those who visited the exhibit and for newer members, a tour into an
earlier Museum Exhibit.
Second Wedding Held at
the Old School House
After ringing the Old School House bell, newlyweds Beth Barrows
Bryant and Noah Bryant leave the front door of the Old School House
to join 140 friends and family for a reception under the tents
on the Old School House front lawn.
Newlyweds cut the cake in front of the Francis Lifeboat at
the Old School House.
(Click on either image for a higher resolution copy)
Permission for use of the pictures provided by the Mr. & Mrs.
Noah Bryant and the photographer, Alicia Kielb of Alicia Matthew
2014 Monthly Programs and Tuesday Talks
August 13, Picnic
+ Gallinipper Talk + Beer with Jim Schmiechen
Sponsored by Lonnie Hannaford & Jolene Jackson
September 10, Country
Life: The Felt Estate on the Midwest Riviera with Patty
Meyer Sponsored by Star of
Saugatuck Boat Cruises, Bruce & Marilyn Starring
October 8, Tales
from the Cemeteries with Kit Lane and Marsha Kontio
Michigan's Hottest Town Revised with Mike Sweeney
December 14, Holiday
Party at the SCA
July 29, Birds of
the Dunelands with Rick Brigham
Sponsored by Sharon Kelly
Last Stop Saugatuck - The History of the West Michigan’s
Interurban Train with Norm Krentel
Sponsored by Judy Oberholtzer
Arriving In Style: The Automobile as Saugatuck & Douglas
History with Jim Schmiechen
Sponsored by Bill Hess & Mike Mattern
August 19, What
Did You Do Last Summer? with Ruth Johnson, Kids
Summer Camp Review
Sponsored by Renee Zita & Ed Ryan
Gangster Stories: Fact or Fiction - Bring Your Story with Jim Schmiechen, Kit
Lane and the Audience
Val Atkin &
Osman Flowers and Firs
"The earth laughs in flowers"
--- Ralph Waldo
It is a beautiful summer for
our gardens. With the rain and cooler temperatures, it looks like a
rainforest when you walk through them --- lush and full of blooms!
Our gardens have been visited
by many people and comments are nothing but positive! Thanks to
everyone for making them so special. An extra thanks to Dottie Lyon
and Richard Lucier for doing some grunt work along our neighbor's
fence at the Old School House.
This fall we will be
installing plant material along it and Richard has accepted the
challenge of digging the area up and making it suitable for them! In
the near future, the Landscape Committee will be asking for
particular plants for installation, hopefully you can help by
checking your own gardens and sharing with them with us.
Our orchard fence will soon
have graphics on it, and Mr. Migas is diligently working on our
slate pieces so the graphics can be installed in our Children's
garden as well.
Many thanks to Michael
Pcolinski and Fran VanHowe for putting on an excellent Tuesday Talk
about bees. We would like to have information on bees in the
Back-In-Time Garden, so we hope to keep working with Mr. Pcolinski
on making this happen.
I hope everyone had a chance
to drive by our School House during the wedding. It was a
spectacular site. With the rehearsal dinner at the museum and the
wedding at the school, it was a beautiful way to showcase our
gardens. Many thanks to Janet Schmidt and Ellen Donovan.
Wow! What a fun time we had at
our first session of Root Camp. The kids were so cute dressed
in period clothing, playing old fashioned games and listening to our
very interesting guest speakers.
Douglas Elementary School students (L to R) Alina Martenson, Julia
Lowery, Kay Erlandson and Neave Rewa
(Click on the image for a higher resolution copy)
As you read this we will be
actively engaged in our second session, but are still accepting
sponsors to help with our camp. If you would like to help, please go
page. The money raised will go to keeping our gardens green.
Enjoy your summer, spend time with family and friends and spend it
Until next month,
The Landscape and Root Camp Committees
Have You Ever Seen The Place
You Live In From A Drone
Jeff Zita and his drone in front of the History Museum.
Well get ready!
HERE for a 15 second segment of a video from a drone
taking off from the History Museum. This is just the beginning of
a 10 minute video of all the dunelands surrounding the Museum.
The full 10
minute video is now available for viewing at the Museum. So even
if you have already seen the Dunelands Exhibit, your visit will
not be complete until you see the video. YOU WILL BE AMAZED!
The Museum is
open daily from noon until 4 PM. Don't miss it! You will be sorry
This ten minute drone video
was created by Jeff Zita for the 2014 Dunelands exhibit at the History Museum. Jeff is the son of Society Board member, Renee Zita.
How many of you
guessed that the model we showed you a photograph of in a
previous issue was a model of the Swift Villa, one of the
early buildings at Camp Gray. (Part of the Presbyterian Camps on the
way to Oval Beach). The building was used as the dining hall as well
as a general gathering place. The model was built by Bill Lankton.
If anyone knows more about Bill and his relation to the camp, please
stop by the Archives office in the lower level of the Old School
House. We would like to know more about him. We are open on Monday
afternoons. Or e-mail us at
When the Society
was notified in April that the more than 35 buildings at the
Presbyterian Camp were going to be torn down for development, we
received permission to go on the property and photograph all the
buildings for our archives. John Manchester graciously agreed to do
this. We were also told that we could pick out some items for our
historical collection. Among the things we received were several
vintage items related to camp life, the Camp Gray sign (which we
hope to place in the Old School House garden) and some contemporary
items from their gift shop including a mug, T-shirt and patches with
The developer, Dave
Barker, also donated a number of original topographical maps and
blueprints of the buildings at the camp.
Several years ago
the Society received a large box of camp records dating back to its
beginnings in the early 1900s. We also own a wonderful DVD about the
Presbyterian Camps made in 2009 by Edwin Kamps. We now have quite a
collection in our archives of materials relating to the camp. Anyone
interested in creating a book? We would also appreciate any stories for this newsletter.
As the buildings
were being torn down, we were told we could go back and get any
signs we wanted (these were not historic). These are simple painted
words on rough boards, such as "No Parking", "Straight ahead", etc.
Anyone wanting to own a piece of the historic camp is invited to
check out booth (#233 ) at the Blue Star Antique Mall.
submitted by Mary Voss, Collections Manager SDHS
Michigan Hometown Stories: Saugatuck-Douglas In Full Production
Media's production of a documentary on Saugatuck and Douglas
continues shooting all over town. Since March, over 40 location
shoots have occurred including the Old School House, Pump House
Museum, the SCA, various galleries and B&B's, Oval Beach, the
Crow's Nest and dozens more.
WGVU's videographer Phil Lane shooting at Crow's Nest.
been conducted with 30 area people including James Brandess, Jim
Schmiechen, Jane Van Dis, Felicia Fairchild, Pat Lion, Matt Balmer,
and many more. Production will continue into August on Michigan
Coastal Alliance members have made this possible with generous
contributions to the non-profit TV station in Grand Rapids. The
generosity of Pat Sax and Thelma Coghlin have led the way.
Presently, the program will be a
hour. There is still the possibility of making it a full
Please consider a
tax deductible donation to Michigan Hometown Stories. There are
also special credit 'sponsor' opportunities available. If you have
any questions or wish to make a gift, please contact Society
member Jon Helmrich at 269.857.3574 or
We're hoping for
a grand premiere at the SCA in November!
submitted by Jon Helmrich
From Branch to Basket:
At the Pleasant Hill Farm
pictures provided by Mary Voss
(Click on any image for a higher resolution copy)
Woman's Club Cancels
by Donna St. Andre
On Friday May 23,
2014 the Saugatuck Woman's Club cancelled their meeting scheduled
for 2:00 PM because of the road construction on Hoffman Street. This
is the first time the meeting had been cancelled that current
members could remember, but after researching for cancellations it
was found in the SWC Secretary's notes of the meetings held in 1959,
that on January 23, 1959 the SWC had cancelled the scheduled meeting
due to unfavorable weather conditions. The Commercial Record of
January 30, 1960 on page 6 also states that the regular SWC meeting
slated for January 23 was cancelled due to inclement weather.
It has been told by
some SWC members that during the Big Pavilion fire in Saugatuck that
the SWC President at that time invited the ladies to her house and
they still had the meeting, but not at the Woman's Club. It was
found in The Commercial Record, Friday May 13, 1960, that the final
scheduled meeting of the year of the SWC was held at the club house,
so either the CR or the people remembering the Pavilion fire
disagree on where it was held, but they agreed the SWC did have
their meeting. That is how important the SWC meetings are to the
women in the Club.
The SWC was founded
in 1904, where a few ladies met at the home of Hattie Bird (Jane Van
Dis' grandmother) on the hill on Allegan Street to form a Reading
Club. They started a lending library by donating books. After a few
years of meeting in their homes they decided in 1910 to rent a space
over the hardware store for meeting space and a library.
In 1934 Miss
Breuckman donated her home to the woman's club to be used as the
library. The library out grew the space and moved across the street
in 1969. Later it moved to its present location on Center Street in
Hattie Moffat Bird
In 1935 they laid the
cornerstone for the auditorium that was added to the Breuckman's
home. It was designed by Thomas Eddy Talmadge, the architect who
designed the colonial type of building. The SWC women had to work
very hard to earn the money for this new construction. There are
also many stories about the ways that they raised money over the
years to keep the building in good repair. The SWC members also
decided to rent out the house part of the Club for a shop to help
with expenses. Rental offset by the house has been the answer to
help the Club be able to offer the women wonderful programs over the
years and not have to do a lot of fundraising projects for operating
The SWC have had many
wonderful educational, informational, and fun programs. They have
also contributed to the Library, scholarships at the School,
Christmas lighting, Christian Neighbors, and many other worthy
It was great fun to go back in
the history of the SWC to do the research and read about the
wonderful ideas and activities of the Club over the last 110 years.
I am very grateful to the dedicated women that came before us to
keep the spirit of the SWC going all these years.
Now women in the area of
Saugatuck may join the Club. Years ago there were other Woman's
Clubs in varying locations. Some examples, in the area were Douglas
Woman’s Club, Fennville Woman’s Club and Allegan Woman’s Club. This
year the SWC has invited the Woman’s Club from Muskegon to join us
at our meeting on August 22 for our annual salad luncheon. I look
forward to many more great years of the Saugatuck Woman’s Club.
Researched and submitted by
Donna St. Andre Historical Society and Saugatuck Woman's Club member
ABOUT THE SOCIETY
To become a member or renew
your membership select from the following categories:
Send check payable to the Saugatuck-Douglas
Historical Society to: PO Box 617, Douglas, Michigan 49406. You can
for a Society Membership Application.
Send items for the newsletter to: Fred Schmidt, PO
Box 617, Douglas MI 49406 or email
Historical Society Museum Exhibit Celebrates
Area's Duneland Treasure
This year's all-new exhibition at the
Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society Museum, open for the season
daily from noon to 4pm, offers a multifaceted look at the Kalamazoo
River duneland and its archeological, historical, environmental,
social and recreational significance, in contrasting tales of change
Titled "Dunelands: Footprints on the Sand", the
exhibition celebrates 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
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
--- Award-Winning Books Highlighted ---
Continuing the Society's tradition of offering books
created to accompany exhibits past and present, the Museum's south
gallery gift shop this year highlights two of its most popular award
winners -- The Village Table: A Delicious History of Food in the
Saugatuck-Douglas Area; and Off The Record...the unpublished
photographs of Bill Simmons.
The Village Table, authored by Society
volunteers Kit Lane and Stacy Honson with graphic design by Sally
Winthers, won a 2012 Leadership In History Award of Merit from the
American Association for State and Local History (AASLH). It
celebrates the Saugatuck-Douglas area by exploring its food: what
the settlers found, what was fished, what was gathered and grown,
what each wave of newcomers brought, what the restaurants served to
visitors, and what we eat today. Each chapter focuses on a different
aspect of the food scene and concludes with a selection of menus and
recipes that favor locally-available ingredients.
Cues for the recipes came from history, and some
less-palatable historical dishes, like the infamously dry Johnnycake
(a cornmeal flatbread), are served up with a modern twist such as
delicious cornbread French toast. Local restaurants and businesses
contributed the recipes in chapter seven “On the Menu.” The final
chapter “Cooking Local” presents a wide range of family favorites
from Historical Society members. This 144-page book, richly
illustrated in color with lay-flat binding, also features separate
historical and culinary indexes.
Off The Record, written by James Schmiechen
with help from Society volunteers Kit Lane and Jack Sheridan, and
designed by Ken Carls, received a Historical Society of Michigan
Award of Merit in 2001. It offers a fascinating pictorial history of
Saugatuck in the'40s and '50s seen through the eyes and camera of an
insatiable photographer whose skills ran the gamut from art
photography to photojournalism. Simmons (1891-1966), worked for The
Chicago Evening Post and Time-Life, Inc., later was editor of The
Commercial Record for 10 years in mid-century. He left a collection
of some 3000 unpublished photos, mostly negatives, shot in and
around Saugatuck from 1941 to 1961.
SDHS received the long-lost collection in 1998, and
discovered that its images witness the changing geography of the
waterfront and village streetscape while connecting us with life in
the mid-1900s in an unusual way. Unlike most photographers, Simmons
was not interested in getting people to pose, preferring to catch
them off-guard, being themselves, in conversation, at play, absorbed
in thought or responding to events around them. As a result, his
work shows how ordinary people interacted with each other, the
village they lived in and the land they lived on.
The 157 photos selected for this book represent many
hours of research and writing by many SDHS volunteers, as well as
the townspeople they interviewed, plus extensive efforts in printing
old negatives, digitizing photos, and pulling it all together into
--- Interactive Map Tells Stories ---
The south gallery also features the Society's popular
"SuperMap" -- a 6-foot high, 12-foot wide illustrated color wall map
of the Saugatuck-Douglas area with an interactive computer display
to provide a virtual tour through these historic villages,
highlighting significant people, places and events of both past and
present. Map artwork, created by Holland artist-cartographer Mark
Cook based on Historical Society research, recalls the entertaining
illustration/poster maps of the 1940-50 era, combining street
layouts with stylized sketches and notes.
The map offers Museum visitors an engaging way to
soak up the story of the Saugatuck-Douglas area. As many as 70
map-highlighted references are keyed by number to let visitors
select and learn about sites of interest by calling up information,
narratives and images using several video/interactive touch-screen
terminals near the map. The screens also offer topical "interactive
programs" such as History of Hotels/Boarding Houses; History of
Boatbuilding and Boat Builders; Buildings and Architecture; Artists
and Painting; Local Biographies; History of Saugatuck-Douglas
Schools; 13 Tales of the Villages and A Video History of Saugatuck
In addition, the terminals allow public access to the
Historical Society's digitized archives of historical photos, pages
of The Commercial Record dating back to 1868, the
Saugatuck-Douglas Building Survey and more.
Article and photos submitted by John Peters. Click
on any photo for a higher resolution copy.
is open daily from
noon to 4 pm through Labor then on weekends in September and October
from noon to 4 pm. Click
HERE to learn more about the Museum and
recent past exhibits.
The Old School House History
Center and Lifeboat Display, located at 130 Center Street in Douglas, is open
Thursday through Sunday from 11 AM to 4 PM. For group tours or to
schedule another period, please contact Steve Hutchins at
616-801-3735 or by email at
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