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Projects & Committees

The Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society has defined a number of areas of interest pursuant to its overall mission. Each Area is represented by a standing committee of the Society, staffed by volunteers.

Help is always needed and volunteers are welcome. Is there a project or committee of interest to you? If so, tell us you're a Volunteer!


The Art History Project seeks to explore, document, preserve, and promote the genre of Midwestern Art, especially as related to the artists who lived and/or worked on our community and the local subjects and landscapes our area provided for inspiration.

The Music Festivals Project is an open collection of oral and written histories, music, photos, contributions, and any such information that document and substantiate these events.

The Saugatuck Music Festivals PDF by Mike Sweeney is a terrific history of those events and the times.

We whole-heartedly invite all who have participated, or have acquired information, to share your experience and add to the records, documents and reports that chronicle the Music Festivals Archive. We would truly love to hear from you and record your stories! Please email us at, Text or Tweet, or call 269-857-7901.

The Oral History Projectis an open invitation to life-long and modern residents, summer populace, frequent visitors, or any person with stories, events or reminiscences, to share their knowledge and involvement with the Saugatuck-Douglas area to better understand historical significance through the impact and dynamics of personal experience.

The Gay History Project

The Root Beer Barrel Project. A beloved Douglas landmark, the Root Beer Barrel was a favorite stopping point for thousands of summertime visitors until its closure in the 1970s. Preserving an excellent example of mid-century highway architecture, restoration is being undertaken by a team of Society volunteers. Also see the archived Barrel Blog.

Community Outreach

Tri-Community Shutdown: Documenting a Small Community's Response to a Global Pandemic

What images do you think capture the history we’re living through right now? The Saugatuck-Douglas History Center (SDHC) is asking everyone to help create a photographic documentary of the many ways life in our tri-community area of Saugatuck, Douglas, and Saugatuck Township is changing under Michigan’s Shelter-in-Place directive for slowing the viral spread of COVID-19.

“We’re living through a period that promises to be every bit as impactful on daily life as Pearl Harbor or 9/11”, notes project creator, photographer and SDHC board member James Cook. “We see the threat of Coronavirus as an historic event that will alter the way we live, possibly for the rest of our lives. Despite the fact that the Spanish Flu of 1918 killed 675,000 Americans, there’s barely any record of what it did to us locally. Now that we’re responding to a similar pandemic threat, we feel a responsibility to document its effect. It will forever be part of our history.”

Titled Tri-Community Shutdown: A Small Community’s Response to a Global Pandemic, the project starts now and is intended to run for as long as Shelter-in-Place is in effect, Cook explains. Views of empty streets, empty shelves and closed businesses are obvious images, but the more personal depictions of sheltering at home are perhaps even more important. Pictures showing how people are coping, working, exercising or even socializing under these new rules for our lives are highly desirable. Visualizations of inconvenience, illness and suffering are also a part of telling the complete story, as are those showing innovative ways folks are dealing with seclusion.

Imagination and creativity are encouraged, but no one should consider this as cause to overlook or ignore the very important guidelines for Shelter-in-Place and social distancing. Public health and safety are paramount.

Images may be posted to Instagram, tagged @sd_historycenter, or on Facebook using @sdhistorycenter, with hashtags #3CShutdown and #MySDHistory. Photos also may be e-mailed to, where SDHC volunteers will review submissions. All photos must provide the name of the photographer and a brief description of the image.

Submittal of photos will be deemed permission for SDHC to archive them for educational and historic purposes, as well as consideration for publication by The Commercial Record.

Photographs will appear on social media as they are posted. SDHC volunteers will collect photographs and repost them at regular intervals. Selected photographs will be considered for publication in The Commercial Record, published weekly on Thursdays.

With the support of the Saugatuck-Douglas District Library, the SDHC is also collecting written accounts from across the community. You can share your reflections and thoughts online here: #3CShutdown Stories Submissions


The Archives and Collections Committee's responsibilities focus on the accession and management of artifacts, photographs, and documents.

Pier Cove

The Garden and Landscape Committee conceptualizes, designs and maintains both the  "Back - In - Time" History Center garden and the waterfront garden at the Pump House Museum. From garden layout to graphic design, this committee engages in all facets of creating an outdoor classroom—with documentation of local garden-landscape history.

The Research and Documentation Committee provides information and support to people engaged in local historical and family research. At the same time, we hope to facilitate the continued collection of such information dealing with the Saugatuck-Douglas areas for future use. Our volunteers are available to help people with their family research.

The Development Committee is the fundraising arm of the Society, soliciting funds from private individuals, corporations, foundations, and other granting institutions.

The Publication and Graphics Committee publishes various materials and books on local history topics and oversees the visual identity of the Society and its Museum.

The Old Lighthouse, 1861

The Museum and Exhibitions Group undertakes the concept, writing, design and production of all exhibitions, including annual Museum exhibitions at the History Center by students from the Saugatuck Middle and High School—along with the management of the museum facilities, its shop, and coordination of its volunteers. The Group also works with the Saugatuck-Center for the Arts in production of collaborative programs on local history talks and exhibitions at the SCA.

The Heritage Preservation Committee is charged with seeing to all matters relating to preservation and includes sub-committes on Architecture and Design, Greenspace Preservation, and Tourism Impact.

The Technology Committee advises on technology issues, produces images for exhibitions and publications, maintains a database of archival images, and oversees the Society's web presence.

The Program Committee plans and schedules the 11 monthly Wednesday Night programs and the annual July-August "Tuesday Talks".