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Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society
Holiday Party
Buffet Dinner & Sundae Bar
Members Only
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Coral Gables 6:00 pm
$23.00 per person
Send Checks made out to:
6957 Lakeshore Court
Fennville, MI 49408
Deadline: November 30
Questions: 269-857-5751



It has been six months since the new board was entrusted with implementing the revised structure to carry the Society forward. The first task was to determine the roles and responsibilities of the Board-At-Large so that we could strengthen communications between the committees and the Board. The Board-At-Large (Liaisons) was asked to work with committees to determine the goals and a budget for 2009. Up to this time, we asked that all committees maintain a "business as usual" function so that the momentum of time, talent and financial support would not be lost.

On October 24, the Board gathered for a full-day workshop to listen to the reports and to allow the board to discuss and determine the best actions to bring communication Society-wide and bring a more collaborative effort that would flow through all the committees. I must say this meeting was very enlightening. For a community of this size, our historical society is of the quality that is enviable by other historical societies. Congratulations. We truly have a goldmine of talent and passion.

To channel this collaborative effort, processes and procedures are presently being drafted and the concept was shared with those at the meeting on November 12. Instead of the chart showing a top down approach, we are reversing it to show a bottom up approach to draw on the expertise of this Society. An example is that instead of going to your currently assigned Liaison, the committee would present a project idea and ask any one of the Board-At-Large members to "sponsor" them. This way the entire committee will have ownership for the project. This project will then be presented to the board to ensure the project is mission related, either directly or indirectly and that it will fit the budget or we have resources to draw upon. We then look across the Society to tie it all together and use all resources for success.

As promised six months ago, the Board will be meeting with the committees to discuss this new plan and to have a two-way dialog and follow up to the information compiled over the last several months. The first meeting is with the Tech Committee. We look forward to meeting with all of you.

We are indeed moving forward and while it may seem like nothing is moving as fast as we wish, we want to make sure it is done correctly. Stay tuned as more details will be forthcoming.

With the economic downturn, our goals to reach financial funding to finish the Old School House Discovery Center and maintain the Society as a whole will be more of a challenge. If you know of anyone that would like to help us complete the building, let us know. Any non-restrictive contributions will be greatly appreciated.

We are pleased to announce that SDHS is sponsoring the Thursday Night at the Movies at the OSHDC. The library offers free movies and last Thursday was a great success. I hope to see you at the movies soon.

The Volunteer Thank You was a great success and we have provided a few pictures of those in attendance in this newsletter and we were able to get a sneak preview of the SuperMap. It has been suggested that we host a similar event in late January or early February. Stay tuned.

To all who are headed to warmer climates, we wish you safe travels and just think you will be kept in the loop with the e-Newsletter.

I hope to see all of you at the Holiday Party on December 7. Tickets are available until November 30.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving; we have much to be thankful for.

Kathy Sturm


The Board of Directors of the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society invited all of the 2008 Society volunteers to a thank you party on Sunday, October 26. The festivities began at the Douglas Union School where the Board served a chili supper buffet. Board members prepared and served different chili recipes. Recipes ranged from chicken chili and vegetarian chili to "the works" chili. Corn bread and chips accompanied the chili.

Bill Hess and Mike Mattern enjoy chili served by Julie Kelly

After the chili supper, the group of about 80 traveled to the SDHS Museum for delicious cake, coffee, and a preview of the new interactive map.

Jim Schmiechen, museum chairman, explained the development of the permanent wall size map and the detailed workings of the computer. Never has the Society had such instant access to this quality and quantity of local history information. This is another milestone in the work of the Society and will be available to the public when the museum opens Memorial Day weekend 2009.

Lyons (Mary & Dick) and Lyon (Al & Dottie) enjoying the new SuperMap display


Are you E-connected to the Society? If not, you may be missing a lot!

Over half of the members are now on the Society's e-mail address list. E-connected members not only receive their monthly Newsletter electronically, but they also receive meeting and Society event reminders, notice of local events of interest to Society members and news of volunteer opportunities.

Most importantly, the Society still spends over $1,000 annually to print and mail Newsletters to members who do not receive it via e-mail. If you have an e-mail address, its easy to add your e-mail address to the Society's e-mail list. Just REPLY to this e-mail or go to the Society’s web site and click on the e-news logo or call Fred Schmidt at 269-857-5751 --- you’ll be glad you did!


This year 58 Society members hosted almost 7,000 visitors to the Saugatuck-Douglas History Museum during this season’s 117-day exhibition. Special thanks to the following members who were this year’s “top” hosts:



Kit Lane 14
Steve Hutchins 14
Bill Hess 11
Mike Mattern 10
Ed Kelly 8
Adrian Vincent 7
Jerry Hill 6
Jane Osman 6
Peg Sanford 6
Kay Smalley 6
Shirley Akins 5
Jon Helmrich 5

Our award-winning museum is free and is operated without a paid staff. The Museum continues to be a West Michigan destination for people from all over the globe.

The key to our success is our members who volunteer at the Museum. Talk with your fellow members who have hosted in the past. You’ll learn hosting is a great opportunity to meet interesting people while learning more about your community’s history. If you would like to be added to the 2009 hosts’ roster, contact Bill Hess at (269) 857-1081 or by e-mail at


One Hundred Years of Leisure at the Lake Michigan Shore

Oval Beach Parking Lot - 1959

For a major exhibition on summer life in a resort area and all it entails, to open in May of 2009 --- we are looking for you to JOIN IN: with PHOTOS? OBJECTS? IDEAS? INFORMATION? DISCUSSION? HELP?

Click HERE for more details on how you can become part of next year's Museum exhibit.


One of Sylvia Randolph's last paintings
One of Sylvia Randolph's last paintings

The members of the Society were sorry to hear of the death of our esteemed member Sylvia Randolph. Sylvia supported the Society and its projects with donations and service. Over the years she made centerpieces for the Christmas party and helped with decorating for various parties. She always arrived at the meetings with a smile on her face. Her question always, "What can I do to help?" and then, "Can I do more?"

Sylvia presented various programs for the Society's monthly meetings. In 2001, at the age of 91, she presented a program titled “An Artist’s Life”. The audience sat in awe as she told the story of her life in Saugatuck. Sylvia served as a mentor to many members of the Society. We all hope we will live up to her standards as we grow older.

The Society held a special meeting to celebrate Sylvia’s 100th Birthday in October, 2005. Tributes were given by Ellen Sprouls, Tony Vettori and James Brandess. Sylvia was given a special Society card, flowers and a charm bracelet. We all enjoyed the pictures of Sylvia through the years. A special celebratory cake was presented and cut by Sylvia. Her sweet thank you note ended with the comment: "How did I ever come to deserve all this? I am very grateful."

We were so fortunate to have her home as one of the highlights of the 2007 exhibit "Walls Talking: Stories our Houses Tell ---" She was generous sharing her treasures to create this museum exhibit. Who will forget the picture of Sylvia studying her treasures at the opening and then correcting the placement of items?

Our Society members ask the question: "How did we deserve Sylvia?"

Peg Sanford


After a 2-year hiatus, the Society will once again be offering orientation for new members - and former members - who are interested in learning about the organization and history of the Society and opportunities for volunteering. This will be the first of four regularly scheduled sessions throughout each year.

The meetings are designed for new and interested former members to meet each other and discover the wonderful opportunities that the Society has to offer. The first meeting will be held at the Old School House Discovery Center in Douglas, beginning at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, November 22. After the meeting, refreshments will be served and then participants will travel to the Museum to take a peak at the new "Super Map" permanent exhibit.

If you plan to attend SDHS 101, please RSVP by November 20 to Nyla Hensley - 269-857-5704 or email:

Future SDHS 101 sessions are planned for April, June, august and October. Stay tuned for details.

Nyla Hensley


Look for your 2009 Membership Renewal letter in your mail box shortly. We have great things planned for 2009!

Ed Kelly

Recruit a new member


Pearl and Charles Parrish in front of their store

Thanks to Mara Comer for providing this photo of her grandparents in front of the “Parrish Drug Store” store. In 1903, Charles Parrish graduated as a pharmacist from the Ferris Institute in Big Rapids, MI. He married Pearl A. Braman, also a graduate pharmacist. In 1913 he built the structure which now houses the Saugatuck Drug Store.

From the February 14, 1913 Commercial Record

In his Commercial Record column "Around Town" dated September 5, 1913, Alex Thompson writes:

"The fine new brick building erected this year, is an ornament to the town and would be to any town. If our enterprising druggist goes on in his prosperity he will soon be able to wait upon customers in a swallow tailed coat, and will not only have the swell place, but be the swell citizen of the town."

They operated their store for fifty years. Pearl passed away in 1949. Charles retired in 1953 and was succeeded by James D. Christensen. Charles and Pearl are both buried at Riverside Cemetery.

 Chris Yoder


Do it the easy way! Give Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society books.

History by Camera – Hard Cover $100
(includes shipping & gift wrapping)
History by Camera – Soft Cover $30
(plus $5 for shipping & gift wrapping)

Other Society Publications
Painting the Town   $20
Snapshots   $25
Fire & Ice   $20
Raising the Roof   $55
Lincoln's Ready Made Soldiers   $29
Western Allegan County History   $70
Early Memories of Saugatuck   $19

            (plus $5 for shipping & gift wrapping)

To place your order, contact Fred Schmidt by REPLYING to this e-mail or by phone at 269-857-1620. We accept cash, checks or credit cards.


w Saturday, November 22, 6:00 – 9:00 PM
    (in conjunction with Douglas Holiday Preview)
w Friday, November 28, 1:00 – 5:00 PM
w Saturday, November 29, 1:00 – 5:00 PM


The Board of Directors is moving ahead with plans to fill the position of Director which has been open for two years and been handled on an interim basis which we would now like to formalize.

The Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society is seeking applications from its membership for the position of Director. The Society Director is a part-time job that has responsibility for administrative, operational, and some development tasks for the Society. The Director reports to the President of the Society and works with the Board, committee and project members, the public, and the membership at large.

The Director plays an integral role in the operations of the Society and its two facilities: the Pump House Museum and the Old School House Discovery Center. Certain budgetary and fiscal responsibilities and working closely with the Treasurer are a critical part of the Director’s day-to-day tasks.

The Director is also charged with the monitoring of projects and the communication among all members and the Board. Candidates should possess strong organizational, communication, and administrative skills with a background in non-profit organizations. Experience with fund-raising and historical preservation are required.

A three-member panel of the board led by Vice President, Jon Helmrich, will be interviewing candidates for the position. Interested members should send a resume and cover letter via e-mail to:

by Dick Haight

The Tech group (especially Jack Sheridan) has been trying to get our thousands of historic photos “organized” for some years now. But mostly new photos arrive faster than we get the collection indexed. And, of course, it’s more fun to scan new arrivals than it is to slave over the previous collection.

So, we’ve decided to spread the problem around by creating our own Internet historic image “blog.” Starting from a web link off the Society’s “home page” (click HERE), just click on Image Blog on the center panel and you will see the following page:

There are only two buttons: Search the Image Blog and Browse through Images. If you choose the “Search” button the next screen looks like this:

I typed the word “mattie” (capitalization not required). And after I click “Search” the next screen lists the current entries:

In this case the program found two matches for “mattie” (in blog text and in the image file name). If you click an underlined link you get the following screen (including the lovely picture of Mattie Hirner):

The blog text includes an incorrect guess by me and a correction by Jack. That’s ok. It’s the way Internet blogs work. If you visit the Society’s Image Blog and you know something more about the picture, feel free to add your two cents worth (in the screen box provided). The kinds of things we’d like to learn include a date or the name of the photographer.

So much for the “Search” button on the Image Blog main page. If you clicked the “Browse” button instead you would see a screen like this:

You can then click on any of the little images that interest you (they are called thumbnails by us nerds). Note: there is Mattie’s pic again in the top row. If you click on one of the “folder” symbols you will see a new page showing the thumbnails of the images that the sub-folder contains (perhaps several levels down)

Anyway, the purpose of all of this is two-fold:
1. To share our collection of digitized historic photos with Society members and the public.
2. To get lots of people (especially members) to help describe the pictures so that we can find them!

Right now we are only getting started. Only a few hundred of our thousands of images are available on-line. And even fewer of them have been described in blog entries. It will probably take a year to add the rest of our image collection. But then, we have been scanning pictures since the year 2000. What’s another year?

Dick Haight 11/15/08

P.S. You will want to have high speed internet to use the image blog (like at the Library).


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 is currently closed and will open Memorial Day weekend 2009 with a new exhibit tentatively titled:

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

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.
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