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History Lives Here Text

State of the Resort, 1924

Inthe fall of 1924 Dr. W. B. House took once as president of the SaugatuckChamber of Commerce. His address at the annual banquet, printed in the October23, 1924, Commercial Record, is full of the history of things as they were, andthe hopes and philosophies of Saugatuck as a resort.



Mr.Kasten and Mr. House in the cherry orchard ca 1949.


Friends and Neighbors:

This Chamber of Commerce is an organization formed by the citizens ofthis community to promote the economic and moral welfare.

As I said when elected to this office of responsibility and honor:"You put me into a bad fix when you did it, and put yourselves into aworse fix -- but I thank you. Taking the situation as it is, however, I trustand believe that we shall work together harmoniously and successfully for acleaner and better home town; a more beautiful and attractive resort; a moreinviting and advantageous location for manufacturing industries, and a morewholesome and moral place in which to live and bring up our children.

We live in a rapidly changing world. It is very difficult for us whoare moving along with it to realize how rapidly -- and even abruptly -- oldthings are passing away and all things are becoming new. It is important,though, that we keep up with developments and improvements in matters essentialto our own interests.

Let this apply to our resort business, which, as now developed, canhardly be compared with what it was but a few years ago, with a few summerboarders around town, and here and there a cottage; sand roads, almostimpassable except where covered twice a year with shingle sawdust or tanbark.

Now we have modern roads such as our fathers never dreamed of; thefinest of transportation, by lake, trolley, bus and auto -- to be followedsoon, no doubt, by aeroplane; splendid and adequatehotel and restaurant accommodations; the Big Pavilion; the West Shore golflinks; the best of city water; a number of splendidly equipped boat liveries,and various other modern devices, all of which, combined with the mostluxurious natural setting of river, lake and forest, and a wide awake,progressive community, have made this, probably without exception, the mostattractive and satisfactory resort in Western Michigan.

Thus the worksof God -- the old Kalamazoo river, with its marvelous scenery from the mouth toNew Richmond and beyond; the great lake, with its wonderful bathing beach; ourforested hills and bare dunes, together with a most salubrious climate --these, combined with the works and devices of man, have made this really theone ideal resort.

But there must be PROGRESS!

No other resort is going to lag behind to accommodate us, nor will anyof them wait while we ramble along at an easy pace.

There is a general speeding up all along the line. The tourist andresort associations, the chambers of commerce, the city councils and the townboards of most resort sections are stepping hard on the gas, using everyavailable device to attract the trade. And this mammoth cash business, here onour great M-11, passing through our very fingers, is going to be corralled byus just in proportion to our ability to convince these multitudes of splendidpeople, with their millions of money, of the facts concerning this one trulyfinest resort in the state.

Most of the resorters leave their homes withSaugatuck as their objective. They have been here before, and know the unusualattractions of the place, or have learned of them in other ways. But of a vastnumber who pass over M-11 it may truly be said, in the words of Shakespeare orsome one, "They don't know where they're going, but they're on theirway" -- ready to stop and spend their money at the most inviting placesalong the highway.

And this class of travel is one of our greatest resources, and is theone that is the most undeveloped. These people want to be attracted. They havemoney to spend and are going to spend it at whatever resort appeals to themmost invitingly.

It is now up to us as a community -- not simply as a chamber ofcommerce, nor as a village or town board, but as a community -- to so inviteand attract this vast source of revenue that thousands more shall enjoy ourdelightful surroundings and, leaving, shall realize that they have beencordially and generously entertained in Michigan's most beautiful of popularresorts, and shall have a fixed determination to come again.

There is, however, one matter of very grave importance that should beof deepest concern to us all. I refer to the necessity of encouraging thehighest possible grade of decency and morality among our resorters.We all know, and know too well, that there is a class of young people coming inhere every season whose immorality is simply unspeakable, and whose habits of moonshining and profligate licentiousness are a disgrace toour municipal control, a dishonor to the entire community, and the cause ofturning away and keeping away many respectable resorters.And it is a matter of serious concern that there are three or four boardinghouses here that seem perfectly satisfied to harbor just this class of damagedgoods.

To secure theresults we are going after -- to raise the standard of life of our own peopleand to attract an increasing number of respectable resorters-- there will be much to consider and many things to do.

Very much hasrecently been done to improve town conditions and increase resort trade. Theconstruction of M-l 1 through our principal street has given us a most enviablelocation on Michigan'sgreatest highway, and the building by the village of ten feet of concrete oneither side of the state concrete through the business portion of the town wasa notable piece of work.

Concrete roadsalso have been built by the village on Allegan hill and the Hoffman streethill, and between these two points, around the school house; also a fine pieceof concrete through the park to the G. & M. dock; and this year theconcrete road, from Butler street to the ferry, and the 100 rods of cementroadway from Dr. Walker's to Mr. Till's besides a large amount of grading andgraveling on various other streets -- the improvements on Pleasant avenue andfrom the ferry through Baldhead Park being specially worthy of mention.

Roads outsideof the village are now in far better condition than ever before. The road toFennville is fine. The gravel road from the village limits on Allegan hill tothe Manlius town line, put in last year, is in good condition, and is rapidlybeing completed from there to New Richmond.The gravel road in Douglas, from the golflinks to the lake, put in last year, gives much better access to the lakeshore.

The appearanceof Butler streethas been much improved this year by a number of very excellent electric signsput up by our business men, adding greatly to the brightness and attractivenessof the street. Let us hope that others may be added next year,and also that there may be no unnecessary delay in putting in a right up todate boulevard lighting system.

And in thisconnection may I suggest the erection at both the north and south entrances tothe village of electric arches, bearing the words "Welcome toSaugatuck" on one side and "Mizpah" orsome other slogan on the other -- something really attractive and worth while,and something out of the ordinary.

Attentionshould be given, and we should be kept posted regarding any proposed change ofthe routing of M-11 that might cut out the villages of Douglas and Saugatuck.

Continuedimprovement is going on, and our village board should be encouraged in any planto give us an adequate roadway from the ferry to the beach, with adequatebathing facilities there.

And what of the Village Park? Divided into four sections as it is andintersected by the two finest driveways in town, containing many wonderfulshade trees, and right in the center of the village, it is and always has beenvery attractive, but it ought to be, and can easily be made, the mostdelightful and inviting spot in town.

The beautifulnew church building and other recent building improvements, the fine new flagpole, the soldiers' memorial, and the tennis court have improved the generalappearance very much. Now is needed a smoothly graded and well kept lawn, andthe whole embellished with a number of beautiful flower beds.

A number ofplaces along the river front are very untidy, and possibly the owners would beglad to make a general cleanup if their attention was properly directed to it.Still better facilities are needed as landing places for skiffs and other smallpleasure boats. These and various other important matters assure us of abundantopportunity for our best ideas and our heartiest co-operation with each otherand with the Hotel Keepers' Association and our village, township, and schoolboards.


Dr. Walter B. House spent many years as aphysician at De Tour in the upper peninsula beforereturning to his hometown and setting up an office in 1923. He was the son ofHarvey L. and Jessie (Wright) Norse who came to Saugatuck in 1867.