MAY  2009

  Click HERE for printer friendly version



First, let me introduce myself. I'm Harold Thieda, a member since 1999, when my wife Sandra and I retired to Saugatuck from Trumbull, Connecticut. She and I spent part of our honeymoon in Saugatuck in 1964, and her family has been vacationing here since the 1950s. Our family purchased a summer cottage in 1966, and we spent all of our vacations in Saugatuck, even when we lived in CT. This summer cottage, which became our home, was built in 1896 and renovated in 2000.

I have been involved with the Historical Society as committee chair of archives, as well as coordinating the walking tours, and volunteering at the museum. I've been on the Board as a member at large and have now accepted the position as president of our dynamic Society.

My main objective for the next 2 years is to continue to keep our Society moving forward in the areas of outstanding museum exhibits, book publications and membership. We must remain on a strong financial footing in both the areas of the Society and the Old School House. We are close to our goals for the Old School House, which will allow our Society to have this community gem in operation all year round.

Previous presidents told me to keep it short, so thank you for your trust in allowing me to guide this great Society for the next two years, continuing the outstanding work of the current Board, and with the support of the Board and the entire membership, help set its course for the future. Harold Thieda


Wed., June 10, 7 PM, in partnership with the Saugatuck Center for the Arts, Jim Schmiechen will speak on the life and work of Sylvia Randolph.

The public is invited to the "Sylvia Randolph: an Art-filled Life" Exhibition Opening Reception on Sunday, May 3 from 3 to 5 pm

Farmer Brown by Sylvia Randolph

Painting in Saugatuck for 80 years, Sylvia Randolph's works are a veritable local history project, reflecting the influences of notable Ox-Bow instructors, shifts in pop culture, and the area's changing landscape. Join Jim Schmiechen for a look at four remarkable decades in Saugatuck/Douglas and what the retrospective of Ms. Randolph's works in the SCA's exhibition hall tells us about ourselves, our community, and our world.

Wed., July 8, 7 PM, Saugatuck Yacht Club, the history of the Saugatuck Yacht Club as they celebrate their 75th anniversary of teaching young and old to sail small boats. John Shack has recruited a group of "Old Salts" to spin some tales about the Club.

Saugatuck Yacht Club

Wed., August 12, 6 PM, Annual Society Picnic at Mt. Baldhead Park

2009 Museum Exhibition
 2009 Museum Opening Reception
Saturday, May 23 | 5:00 - 7:00 PM

"THE STORIES are based on real-life people and real-life experiences of time past, only the names have been changed and some of the facts and points in time are woven in from a variety of experiences. We have picked ten thematic points to represent the history of 'summertime' - each story covering one of the points. You will note that one of the stories is about the people who were involved in work, not leisure." James Schmiechen, author and curator of the exhibition

The museum design and technology teams, headed by Judy Hillman, have invented a number of formats in telling the stories - including a large structure that, in abstract form, represents the Big Pavilion and houses a model of the Big Pavilion built by Society member Arnie Shafer.

The exhibit includes, as well, several large flat screen monitors that deliver a mix of archival photographs and newly discovered 'home movies' from the early 1900s through to the 1950s.

In addition, the art students of Christa Wise (Saugatuck Public High School) have constructed their own unique part of the exhibition.

The museum's "Tuesday Talks" in June and July will present these same themes - one of which will be on the West Michigan summertime invention called the Chris Craft cruiser - a talk by the grandson of the founder of Chris Craft. The exhibit will include a scale model replica of one of the most popular Chris Craft boats of the 1930s.

Don't Miss It!

Oval Beach 1950s

This year's event will be Thursday night, June 4 at Lakeview Lanes in Douglas.


Proceeds from this event help support the Old School House Discovery Center in Douglas and the Society's Museum in Saugatuck.

Eight 5-person teams are needed to bowl. The cost for each team member is $25 (which is tax deductible.) Bowling will begin at 7:00 pm and each team will bowl 2 games. If you would like to bowl that evening, contact Judi Vanderbeck at (269) 857-2682.

Not a bowler? You can still support the event by making a pledge to your favorite bowler. Here's how it works - - if you make a pledge of $.05 a pin and your bowler scores at total of 300 pins, your donation would be $15.00. It's simple to pledge, sign up when a bowler contacts you or call Judi to make a pledge. You can, of course, make a pledge at the event.

It's also a great event for everyone to attend. There will be 50/50 drawings, food, fun, and prizes.


It's not a Garage Sale - It's Better,
It's an Upscale Sale

The Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society will be holding an "Upscale Sale" on Saturday, July 18 from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM on the grounds of the Old School House Discovery Center in Douglas. A preview sale and party will be held on the evening of Friday, July 17 beginning at 5:30 PM.

Proceeds will benefit the Society's award-winning museum exhibitions, lecture series, Heritage Preservation Awards, archival programs, the Technical Center, Old School House Discovery Center building fund and many more of the Society's community-wide programs.

Donating is a great way to support the Society and receive a tax deduction too!

How to Donate to the Sale

The Types of Item You Should Donate
The sale will focus on high-quality items such as antiques, framed art, collectables, jewelry, small-scale furniture, toys and games, housewares and small appliances that will maximize the event's profits.

Unfortunately, we will be unable to accept clothing, large scale furniture pieces, computer or home electronics, exercise equipment, 50-cent items or the like.

When and Where to Drop-Off Donations

You can drop off your donations at the Old School House in Douglas on Saturday (9:00 AM - Noon) June 20, June 27 and July 11 or Tuesday (4:00 - 7:00 PM) June 29, July 7 and July 14.

For additional information or to inquire about a donation pick-up call, REPLY to this email or call Fred Schmidt at (269) 857-5751

by grandson Bob Erickson - April 2009

The Rosemont property had become a fruit farm in the 1870s. The owners planted and farmed a large peach orchard. It was very productive.

Samuel and Ellen (Olsen) Bryan (c1882)
Samuel and Ellen (Olsen) Bryan (c1882)

Samuel Willison Bryan Jr. (born Kalamazoo, Dec. 24, 1847) and Ellen Serena (Olsen) Bryan married in 1882. In 1886, they purchased the 40 acre farm. The property, which originally extended east from Lake Michigan and north from Center Road, would eventually be occupied by a number of private dwellings, the Douglas Public Beach, the Rosemont Resort, a chestnut grove and portions of the Golf Course.

Unfortunately, in the 1890s the area peach growing economy suffered major losses due to weather and several genetic malignancies. Trees began producing deformed fruit. The government eventually required the cutting and burning of entire orchards to prevent further spread of the disease. The Saugatuck Township property tax in 1896 was $17.76, based on an assessed valuation of $1000.

Daughter Nellie had been born before they came to the lake shore. Children Willis, Lillian and Hallie were born in the original farmhouse. The farmhouse was destroyed by fire in 1900. Douglass was born in the replacement building.

Rose Mont, early 1900s
Rose Mont, early 1900s

About this time, the Lake Shore area was becoming a vacation destination. The Rosemont (initially named Rose Mont) was established by 1904 after an addition was built onto the front of the new building. Samuel had some understanding of hotel management since his parents had operated a hotel in Kalamazoo. Initially, the resort served meals. The lower level of the rear building was occupied by dining and kitchen areas.

Over time it became a Rooming facility and later a Bed & Breakfast. The lake shore area became part of the Village of Douglas in 1904. Hallie and Douglass built homes just to the south of the resort. Willis built his home along Center St. Over time all other lots abutting Lake Shore Drive and Center St. were sold.

Samuel died in 1918. After Ellen died in 1938, Nellie, and later Douglass & his wife would operate the business. It was sold to M. Sajak in the 1970s. It is now called the Rosemont Inn operated by Pat and Pieter Lion.

Click HERE for an expanded article with additional pictures from the Society's web site. Do you have favorite Saugatuck-Douglas stories to share? Click HERE to tell us about them or call or write Chris Yoder, (269) 857-4327,

Submitted by Chris Yoder


Society's Latest Book to Be Unveiled at the Museum Opening Reception

The Big Pavilion, The Brightest Spot on the Great Lakes

After a brief hiatus, the Society's dynamic - and award-winning - publishing duo, author Kit Lane and graphic designer Ken Carls have teamed up once again to produce another stunning new volume to add to the Society's growing list of local history publications. This year's book, The Big Pavilion, The Brightest Spot on the Great Lakes, is in the final stages of production and will be available at the May 23 Museum reception.

The 48-page book chronicles the history of Saugatuck's most famous building, the enormous dance hall that stood at the bend in the Kalamazoo. Generously illustrated, the book takes the reader from construction in 1909 to destruction (by fire) in 1960 - and through the many phases of Saugatuck's changing social scene in between. The text is punctuated with quotes from hundreds of newspaper articles and first-hand accounts by Big Pavilion regulars.

The book will retail at the Museum Shop for $19.95, and as with previous Society publications, a special numbered commemorative hand-bound hard cover edition will be available for $100 each. Prepaid orders for soft cover or special numbered copies are available by REPLYING to this email or through Fred Schmidt at 269 857-5751

Saygatuck Walking Tours Brochure

Walking Tour docents are needed. Training will be available in June (dates to be coordinated to individual schedules). Actual tour needs are for Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in July and August.

Tours start at 2:00 pm from the Information Booth in downtown Saugatuck and take about 1 hour 15 minutes and are about 1 mile in length. No tour on July 4 due to parade. Contact Harold Thieda at 857-2985 or by email at

SDHS 101

REMINDER - The next "SDHS 101" session will be held at the Old School House Discovery Center on Saturday, June 27th at 10:00 a.m. For details or to register, call Nyla Hensley 269-857-5704 or email


Connect with EVERYBODY in the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society

New Look for 2009 + New Opportunity

June 2009 Society Directory

For a donation of $100 or more, you can sponsor a page in the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society Membership Directory. Your page will include a 4.25 x 2 inch sponsorship box where you can display business information, a memorial message, or an acknowledgement. If you're a member of the Historical Society, then you already know that the Membership Directory is the other phone book that members use to quickly look up contact information.

Your support will be appreciated by more than 600 Society members over the course of the next year and will help free up funds for other important Society projects. The directory will be available in June.

We are planning for only 20 sponsorship boxes so if youíre interested, just REPLY to this email and reserve your sponsorship box. We'll get back to your with further details.


Several months ago I did a survey of those over 100 who are buried in the Saugatuck and Douglas Cemeteries. I apologize for missing several folks.

Inez Hazen 1910
Inez Hazen 1910
Graduation Photo

Abigail Robinson
Abigail Robinson

Inez Hazen Campbell (Sep. 23, 1892-Aug. 10, 1997) lived 104 years 10months and 18days. Inez would be third oldest in comparison to those presented earlier. She was born in Grass Lake, MI and came to the area with her sister Vera who had secured a teaching job. (Douglas cemetery).

Abigail Robinson DeYoung (Oct. 11, 1900-Jan. 19, 2002) 100yrs 3m 8days, a daughter of prominent businessman Miller Robinson and granddaughter of early Singapore settlers. (Riverside cemetery)

Monroe Rutty Grave

Older than anyone would be a fellow buried in Riverside, if his identity is correct. In the first decade of the last century a man was hurt in a logging accident and lost his memory. He wandered into the Ottawa County Poor Farm in 1907 and said he didn't know who he was or where he came from.

Fifty-eight years later, Monroe Eaton of Ganges read an article about him in the newspaper and identified him as his uncle, Monroe Rutty. Based on this identification, Monroe Rutty (Mar. 31, 1860-May 30, 1971) was considered the oldest man in the state at the time of his death-111 years 2months. Contributed by Chris Yoder


The "Back in Time" locker exhibit in the Old School House Discovery Center is close to being completed. The purpose of this permanent exhibit is to illustrate what school life was like in the past and to interpret this for our children and grandchildren in such a way that it will be easily understood. What did you have in your school locker when you were growing up? Certainly not the backpacks and iPods that you would find today. So in this display we are showing the contrast between 1860 (when the Douglas school opened) and today, using five different locker spaces. What better way to tell this story than to actually see and touch the books, clothing, and other items, not only of the Douglas School House but of school life in general.

Underneath the lockers are bins that will contain toys from each era for children/adults to actually play with. What a great multi generational sharing activity this will be!

To complete the story, a number of items are still needed. Donations of a pair of steel roller skates c.1950s; a letter jacket and gym clothes c.1960s-1970s; Saugatuck High School yearbooks one from the 1960s and one current one, also a pair of high top tennis shoes c. 1950s. and popular song sheet music from the turn of the century would be greatly appreciated. If you have an item to donate please contact Mary Voss at 616-396-2013 or  or contact Sally Winthers at 269-857-4181 or Other suggestions for items to include in the lockers are also appreciated.

Along with the actual lockers, there will be a digital program telling the story of the Douglas School House. More photos are needed. If you have any that you can share (they will be returned) please contact us! - Sally & Mary


At the Society's Annual Meeting on May 13, two new members-at-large to the Board took the oath of office. The Society is very pleased to welcome Tony Vettori and Jim Cook. Click HERE for a complete copy of the presentation material.

Tony Vettori is no stranger to most of our members. He moved to Saugatuck twenty years ago from the Chicago area where he spent 34 years with Abbot Laboratories in Information Technology. Tony has served on the Saugatuck city council since 2004 and was Mayor of Saugatuck from 2006 - 2008. He is the cityís representative in the negotiations to purchase and preserve the South Denison property. Tonyís partner, Ken Altman, is a retired banker and financial software programmer who serves on the Board of Mason Street Warehouse.

Jim Cook, like so may of us, moved his life and business here from points west. Jim and his wife Kat (a West Michigan native herself) left the Rocky Mountains in Colorado for Saugatuck four years ago.

Ox-Bow Photograph by Jim Cook

A renowned photographer and former journalist for Newsweek, Time, and Forbes, Jim and Kat now run HindSight Ltd., a software management company for professional photographers. Jimís work is part of the Smithsonian Institution's permanent collection at the National Museum of the American Indian. Jim has also served on the national board of directors of the American Society of Media Photographers.

Both Jim and Tony were elected to two-year terms in the April election that also extended treasurer Stacy Honson's and member-at-large Ken Carls' terms on the board and elevated Harold Thieda to president. Submitted by Jon Helmrich, Vice President and Nominating Committee liaison


8 Wall Street
8 Wall Street, Douglas, Dan Turner and Gregory Dziewit, owners

MacDonald Store Addition
MacDonald Store Addition, Center & Spring Streets, Douglas, Nicolaas Wilkins, architect; Robin and Sharon Bauer, owners; Charles Carlson, architect;

336 Park Street
336 Park Street, Saugatuck, Steven J. Debbink, owner

540 Campbell Road
540 Campbell Road, Douglas, Ken Tornvall, owner

167 Lakeshore Drive
167 Lakeshore Drive, Douglas, third generation of the Webster D. and Helen Corlett families, owners

Interurban Trail
Interurban Trail, Peterson Preserve, Saugatuck, Jim
and Peggy Boyce, former owners

Dune Schooner Property
Dune Schooner Property, Saugatuck Township, Linus and Janice Starring, owners

Hercules Hotdogs
Hercules Hot Dogs, 236 Culver Street., Saugatuck, Donald Schipper and John Seros , owners

Park House B&B Park House B&B, 888 Holland St., Saugatuck,
Toni Trudell & Melissa Raywood, owners

61 Randolph Street
61 Randolph Street, Douglas, Dan Turner and
Gregory Dziewit, renovators

The Boulders
The Boulders, 130 Lakeshore Drive, Douglas,
K.J. and Carrie Weaver, owners

Finkle-Knollenberg House
Finkle-Knollenberg House, 605 Campbell Road,
Douglas, Stephen Knollenberg, owner

Shoebox House
Shoebox House, 229 Francis Street, Saugatuck,
Darrell Price and Lizbeth Amundson, owners

Bike Path
Bike Path, Blue Star Highway, Saugatuck Township Board, Bill Wester, Supervisor

Saugatuck Dunes
Saugatuck Dunes Coastal Alliance, David Swan, President

Valentine Lodge
Valentine Lodge, 653 Campbell Road, Douglas,
Allan and W.F. Boutin, owners

Crawford House
Crawford House, 404 Griffith Street, Saugatuck,
Bill and Barbara Bleeker, owners

Pond-Winslow House
Pond-Winslow House, 446 Griffith Street, Saugatuck, Ken A. Morris, owner

Cummings House
Cummings House, Randolph and Washington, Douglas, Samuel and Janene Cummings, owners
Gray-Zarate Home
Gray-Zarate Home, 541 Campbell Road, Douglas,
Ken Gray and Hector Zarate, owners

Fruit Barn and Garden
Fruit Barn and Garden, Randolph and Spring, Douglas, Patricia Sax, owner

White Barn
White Barn, 2525 Lakeshore Drive, Fennville,
Dennis Vetter and Steve Howard, owners

Landis Lodge
Landis Lodge, 2593 Lakeshore Drive, Fennville,
The Watts Family, owners

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

Four cuties posed on the Pier Cove beach.
HISTORY: Four cuties posed on the Pier Cove beach.
MYSTERY: What were they teasing Martha about?

A lazy summer day in Saugatuck.
HISTORY: A lazy summer day in Saugatuck.
MYSTERY: Name the location and guess the date.

Charles Billings' water wagon.
HISTORY: Charles Billings' water wagon made an interesting prop for a group photo.
MYSTERY: The Hirner home is seen in the background. Name the location and guess the date.

1956 Saugatuck Police Force
HISTORY: The Saugatuck Police Force members posed summer 1956.
MYSTERY: How many can you name?


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

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

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

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


The Saugatuck-Historical Museum is located in the historic Pump House at the foot of Mt. Baldhead on the west bank of the Kalamazoo River. The Museum will open Memorial Day weekend 2009 with a new exhibit titled:

"Summertime: One Hundred Years of Leisure at the Lake Michigan Shore"

The Museum will be open daily from Noon to 4 PM through Labor Day and on weekends in September and October from Noon to 4 PM.

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

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

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