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History Center Exhibits

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

At the Saugatuck-Douglas History Museum, at Mt. Baldhead, Saugatuck

The Saugatuck-Douglas Museum
In the historic Saugatuck Pump House
735 Park Street, Saugatuck
On the west bank of the Kalamazoo River at the foot of Mt. Baldhead Park.
Open daily noon-4, Memorial Day weekend-Labor Day. Weekends, September-October.

Then and Now: Photos from the Archives

Come explore the stories of Saugatuck and Douglas through the history of photography. Check back soon for updates on summer opening hours.


At the Old School House, Douglas

The Old School House
130 Center Street, downtown Douglas
Winter: Exhibits open by advance reservation and special days throughout the season. Open days for February include Saturday, February 15 from noon-5; Saturday, February 29 from noon-3.

Art at the History Center School House Galleries

The SDHC features changing exhibits of historical art by artists who lived and worked in the Lakeshore area. Drawn from the growing art collections of the History Center these exhibits help viewers appreciate the connections between historical context of art in the area today.

View fifteen paintings showcasing historic views of Saugatuck by painter Robert ‘Harry’ Fort (1875-1954) now on view at the History Center School House galleries through May 2020.

Rowing Them Safely Home

A permanent exhibit on the U.S. Lifesaving Service and shipwrecks on Lake Michigan, located on the grounds of the Old School House. View the restored 1854 Francis Metallic Surfboat from Saugatuck Harbor, an all-iron lifesaving boat — one of America’s first official life boats, surrounded by Lake Michigan shipwreck and lifesaving stories.

Surrounding the Old School House and Shipwreck Exhibit is the The Back-in-Time Garden Pathway, where visitors discover more about natural and cultural history.

Find More Exhibits Online!

Download our free mobile app to view more virtual exhibits, take a walking tour of the Back-in-Time Garden, and more! Available for free download on Apple and Android devices.

Learn more about past Museum exhibits

2017-2018 Exhibit - Cold War Hot Towns: Sugatuck-Douglas in the 1950-1970s

2015 Exhibit - Water: A River, a Lake, a Place, called Saugatuck-Douglas

2014 Exhibit - Dunelands 2: Footprints on the Sand

2013 Exhibit - Dunelands: Footprints on the Sand

2012 Exhibit - Village Occupations from the Past

2011 Exhibit - Off Season

2010 Exhibit - A Place Called Ox-Bow

2009 Exhibit - Summertime