You're Invited to the Riley-Stack-Ellis House

The Saugatuck/Douglas Historical Society is inviting reservations for an evening cocktail party at one of the oldest homes in Douglas, as the next event in the Historical Society's fifth annual "Dine Around The Village Table" series of dinner or cocktail party fundraisers.

Scheduled for Saturday, September 20, starting at 7pm, the event combines drinks and “heavy” appetizers with a look inside the extensively restored Civil-War-era “Riley-Stack-Ellis House” at 203 Heirloom Lane, a little-known road off Ellis St. south of Center St.

Now the home of Michigan Supreme Court Justice Bridget Mary McCormack and her husband Steven Croley, the house was built in 1860 by Thomas Riley, a carpenter and joiner who died in the Civil War. His widow, Fidelia, later married Anthony Slack, who fought at Gettysburg, the "Battle of the Wilderness” and was present with the 5th Michigan Cavalry at Appomattox, VA in April of 1865. The house later became the home of their daughter and her husband, Claude Ellis, a Lake Michigan ship’s captain.

The house is considered one of the finest local examples of the housing revolution that was sweeping America just before and after the Civil War, reflecting then-innovative "balloon-frame" construction and the availability of cheap lumber. With clapboard siding, it exemplifies the Italianate architecture popular in those days, featuring hipped roof, oversized windows with stylish window "hood," and its original "paired window" front entrance door, very fashionable at that time.

One year after restoration in 2004, which added a broad front patio that is comfortably fitting for its period, the house received a Saugatuck/Douglas Historical Society “Heritage Preservation Award.”

With all food and beverages donated, this event's guest charge of $50 per person will fully support the Historical Society's volunteer-based programs and activities, including exhibitions at its Pump House Museum in Saugatuck, Old School House History Center and "Back-In-Time Garden Pathway" in Douglas. For reservations, phone 269.857.5751 or e-mail