Saugatuck-Douglas History Center

Saugatuck-Douglas History Center The Saugatuck-Douglas History Center preserves local history and inspires learning to inform and improve our community. The mission of the Saugatuck-Douglas History Center is to preserve local history and inspire learning to inform and improve our community.
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SDHC operates two public facilities: the S-D History Museum at 735 Park Street in Saugatuck near Mt. Baldhead, and the Old School House and Garden at 130 Center Street in downtown Douglas. Both have hours open for the public in season. Learn more about each here: http://sdhistoricalsociety.org/sites/sitesindex.php The Museum is open to the public throughout the summer and fall seasons with a new major thematic exhibit every other year. The Old School House is home to most of our popular presentations, is the home of our archive and research center, and features rotating and seasonal exhibits and a local art gallery. Due to the largely seasonal nature of our communities, our public exhibits are not generally open during the winter months. The 1866 Old School House (formerly the Douglas Union School), was purchased by the Saugatuck-Douglas History Center in 2006 and has become the nerve center of SDHC's operations. This stately landmark is the oldest multi-classroom school building in Michigan and one of the finest examples of 19th century school architecture in America. It is listed on the State and National Register of Historic Places. The former schoolyard surrounding the building has been reshaped into the Back-In-Time Garden, where Saugatuck-Douglas citizens and visitors can benefit in a multitude of ways from the area's rich natural history and culture. It is augmented by the Francis Metallic Surfboat, centerpiece of our outdoor shipwreck exhibit in the boat barn building, open in season. The History Center Archives - A safe, climate-controlled home for the SDHC's ever-expanding collection of historically important objects, paper, memorabilia, artwork, and photographs. The archives are available to assist the public with research about Saugatuck, Douglas and vicinity historical and cultural topics. Call 269-857-7901 to reach the archive directly and schedule an appointment.

Operating as usual

Thrilled to share the news that the SDHC received a grant from Michigan Humanities to support next year’s Century of Pro...
10/29/2020

Thrilled to share the news that the SDHC received a grant from Michigan Humanities to support next year’s Century of Progress LGBTQ 🏳️‍🌈 timeline exhibit! Thank you to Michigan Humanities and the National Endowment for the Humanities for this support.

We recently announced the recipients of this year's fall Humanities Grants, which total over $170,000 in support. Congratulations to these 13 organizations from across Michigan! We can't wait to see the humanities-based projects that you have planned.

Saugatuck-Douglas History Center — "Century of Progress: A Timeline of Saugatuck-Douglas LBGTQ History"

The King House Association — "King House Timeline Exhibit"

Traverse City National Writers Series — "The Thanksgiving Play performance and discussion with Native American playwright Larissa FastHorse"

Alma College — "Three Nights at the Opera"

Museum of Ojibwa Culture — "Honoring Our Hometown Native American Heroes"

Northern Michigan University — "The Decolonization Exhibition"

Ferris State University — "Preservation and Exhibition of the Bruce Davidson Photo Collection"

Midland Center for the Arts — “Midland County Historical Society Oral History Project”

The Temple Theatre — "Wonderfully Made: The Artis Family Collection of African American Art"

Saginaw Valley State University — "Two Exhibitions Centered on Michigan’s Contributions to Hip Hop and Architecture"

Marygrove Conservancy — "Digitizing Marygrove’s Defining Detroit Collection"

Planet Detroit — "(RE)Storying Agency: (RE)Mapping and (RE)Imagining the Terrain of Metro Detroit"

WNIT Public Television — "A Story of the Pokagon Band of the Potawatomi"

Read the full release and find additional details at: https://www.michiganhumanities.org/michigan-humanities-awards-over-170000-for-cultural-programming/

#MIhumanitiesathome

On this Indigenous Peoples Day, the SDHC acknowledges and celebrates the history and culture of the Great Lakes region. ...
10/12/2020

On this Indigenous Peoples Day, the SDHC acknowledges and celebrates the history and culture of the Great Lakes region.

The Saugatuck Douglas History Center preserves local history of the communities on the traditional homelands of the Council of the Three Fires: the Ojibwe, Odawa, and Potawatomi Nations. This region has long been a home place for Indigenous people to gather, trade, and live, in the past and present. The SDHC acknowledges the Bodéwadmi (Potawatomi) and Odawa who contribute to this area’s history and to the life of our communities today. We formally acknowledge and celebrate the heritage, practices and traditions of Indigenous people on this land.

Please visit the History Center's exhibits at the School House gardens in Douglas to learn more.

Come on out to Douglas today, Saturday October 10th to support local artists and merchants for a gallery stroll starting...
10/10/2020

Come on out to Douglas today, Saturday October 10th to support local artists and merchants for a gallery stroll starting at noon. Then stop by the History Center to check out the gardens and outdoor exhibits. We'll also have the main floor gallery open for your last chance to see Robert Fort: Rediscovering a Michigan Artist and some special new acquisitions. We'll be open noon to 4 PM!

Good news to share from right across the street! The "Pride Celebration Garden" was dedicated in Downtown Douglas, Michi...
09/21/2020

Good news to share from right across the street! The "Pride Celebration Garden" was dedicated in Downtown Douglas, Michigan to Carl Jennings & Larry Gammons this weekend. The SDHC is grateful to longtime supporters Carl and Larry who have done so much for the community.

"This is for all the LGBTQ men and women who made our community what it is today," said Gammons of the new garden. The History Center looks forward to sharing more of this story next year in the Century of Progress LGBTQ history timeline project planned for the summer of 2021.

On Saturday, September 19, the "Pride Celebration Garden" was dedicated in Downtown Douglas, Michigan to Carl Jennings & Larry Gammons.

"This is for all the LGBTQ men and women who made our community what it is today," said Gammons of the new garden.

At the dedication, Pastor Sal Sapienza of Douglas UCC church said a blessing, and Douglas Mayor, Pat Lion, officiated a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The "Pride Celebration Garden" is such a special gift to our community and a loving tribute to Carl & Larry's life together and to the lives of so many wonderful LGBTQ friends, residents, and visitors.

Photos: John Kerr

History on the Move!  Today in Saugatuck the fish shanty made its way out of the water and onto dry land.  Saugatuck bus...
09/14/2020

History on the Move! Today in Saugatuck the fish shanty made its way out of the water and onto dry land. Saugatuck businessman Sean Steele led the moving effort to relocate the building. This is the next step in its preservation as the historic fishing building--one of the last surviving fishing buildings in western Michigan--moves to a temporary location for assessment. The SDHC is working on plans for the shanty's new home where it will be used to interpret maritime history of the Kalamazoo River and Lake Michigan.

Come out to #downtowndouglas for Art on Center tomorrow, Saturday 9/12 and stop by the Old School House to visit new his...
09/11/2020

Come out to #downtowndouglas for Art on Center tomorrow, Saturday 9/12 and stop by the Old School House to visit new historical art on display and new exhibits in the garden. Volunteers will be there from Noon to 4 PM!

The SDHC is excited to share this update about 'History on the Move' in Saugatuck!Earlier this month, the Commercial Rec...
09/04/2020

The SDHC is excited to share this update about 'History on the Move' in Saugatuck!

Earlier this month, the Commercial Record reported that high water threatened a significant piece of Saugatuck’s maritime history: the fishing shanty at 720 Water Street.

We are thrilled to share the news that one of the last surviving fishing buildings in western Michigan will have a new life as it moves to drier land in the next two weeks. The Saugatuck-Douglas History Center continues to work together with Saugatuck business owner Sean Steele to raise the building out of the water and move it to a dry location off site for assessment. It will then be relocated to a new home in our community where its history can be shared with locals and the many people who visit the area each year.

The History Center relies on supporters and volunteers to preserve local history and we will share updates on how you can help in the months ahead. For now, keep an eye out for ‘history on the move’ as the fish shanty rises from the water.

Thanks for the shoutout, Grand Valley State University Special Collections & University Archives! Check out these classi...
08/21/2020

Thanks for the shoutout, Grand Valley State University Special Collections & University Archives! Check out these classic cars at Oval Beach in the 1950s. How many can you identify?

🙋🏾 if you like looking at old cars too
__
#gvsuarchives #saugatuckdouglas #michigan #cars #archives

A mighty presence in the community has passed. RJ Peterson will be long remembered for his energy and enthusiasm for Sau...
08/12/2020

A mighty presence in the community has passed. RJ Peterson will be long remembered for his energy and enthusiasm for Saugatuck and Douglas.

Tower Marine owner R.J. Peterson, 93, passes

R.J. Peterson, 93, passed away peacefully at home in his sleep Monday, his fami-ly announced Tuesday morning.

“As we mourn his loss,” wrote Madeline Peterson on behalf of Matt, Cindy, Han-nah, Grace and herself, “we are comforted by the memory of R.J.’s long, ex-traordinary life dedicated to his family and his com-munity.

“There will be a small, private family funeral in the coming days,” she con-tinued. “A public celebra-tion of R.J.’s life will be planned once large public gatherings again become safe.

“We greatly appreciate the community’s thoughts, and ask for our privacy during this difficult time,” the family said.

More details will be shared next week.

Sharing sad news of the passing of Michael Sweeney, charter member and first President of the Saugatuck-Douglas Historic...
08/06/2020

Sharing sad news of the passing of Michael Sweeney, charter member and first President of the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society. Michael brought together his talents as a jazz musician, painter, writer, and historian to guide our organization through its founding years. He also contributed substantial research on Saugatuck’s music history and the Blue Tempo jazz club. His tempera paintings also capture the many moods of the lakeshore landscape. He passed away peacefully on July 26 at the age of 73.

Come out to #downtowndouglas for Art on Center and stop by the Old School House until 4 PM today. We have socially dista...
07/18/2020

Come out to #downtowndouglas for Art on Center and stop by the Old School House until 4 PM today. We have socially distanced access to the main gallery of Saugatuck-Douglas art history and a NEW live shipwreck history program in the boat house.

Stop by the History Center this morning for the Saugatuck Douglas Art Club Swap and Sale. Socially distanced en plein ai...
07/15/2020

Stop by the History Center this morning for the Saugatuck Douglas Art Club Swap and Sale. Socially distanced en plein air art supplies on the front lawn of the Old School House.

Saugatuck-Douglas History Center's cover photo
07/03/2020

Saugatuck-Douglas History Center's cover photo

As you're making plans to enjoy downtown Saugatuck and Douglas during the July 4th weekend take note of an extra treat w...
07/03/2020

As you're making plans to enjoy downtown Saugatuck and Douglas during the July 4th weekend take note of an extra treat waiting among downtown storefronts specially dressed with "pop-up" exhibits celebrating our community's rich history.

Dubbed the towns' first "History Hop," created and placed by Saugatuck-Douglas History Center in partnership with Saugatuck-Douglas Area Business Association (SDABA), the displays draw documentation and photos from SDHC archives to highlight events and attractions that offer both residents and visitors a stronger sense of how local cultural character and vacation appeal have evolved.

Viewers are invited to discover each display as they stroll, shop and dine in both Saugatuck and Douglas. For added adventure, they may download the SDHC's mobile app by scanning QR (quick response) barcodes from display posters, to discover more about the area's history and follow self-guided walking tours through the twin cities.

As you're making plans to enjoy downtown Saugatuck and Douglas during the July 4th weekend take note of an extra treat waiting among downtown storefronts specially dressed with "pop-up" exhibits celebrating our community's rich history.

Dubbed the towns' first "History Hop," created and placed by Saugatuck-Douglas History Center in partnership with Saugatuck-Douglas Area Business Association (SDABA), the displays draw documentation and photos from SDHC archives to highlight events and attractions that offer both residents and visitors a stronger sense of how local cultural character and vacation appeal have evolved.

Viewers are invited to discover each display as they stroll, shop and dine in both Saugatuck and Douglas. For added adventure, they may download the SDHC's mobile app by scanning QR (quick response) barcodes from display posters, to discover more about the area's history and follow self-guided walking tours through the twin cities.

History on the move in Douglas! Thank you to Scott, Mike and The Commercial Record team for your care for the community'...
07/03/2020

History on the move in Douglas! Thank you to Scott, Mike and The Commercial Record team for your care for the community's history for over 150 years. It's true too that it takes a village. The History Center is grateful for the tireless support of the Saugatuck-Douglas District Library as a collaborator in this and so many other projects.

‘Saving’ history, clearing space ahead
By Scott Sullivan, Editor

The value of a community newspaper is no more than its community. Which is why The Commercial Record was thrilled Saturday, upon leaving our brick-and-mortar offices in the Douglas Professional Building — to transfer 150 years of archived newspapers to the Saugatuck-Douglas History Center and District Library.

No one in business needs to have it explained — especially given the Covid-19 crisis — we now face tough choices. The good news for us has been that, despite this and the demise in ad revenues print papers have now faced for decades — The Commercial Record’s support and readership have stayed strong.

We would like to think hard work and dedication to people we love are factors in this. But there’s no question we’ve faced changing markets and times as well.

Last October we moved from our longtime office at 3217 Blue Star Highway — which Maria Metcalfe has done a beautiful job renovating into her Massa Body business — to the professional center.

Then came the pandemic. Our 15-year editor — me — isn’t so young anymore and a Type-1 diabetic. Three surgeries in five months last year got me listening to doctors better.

I started writing at home — I can do that anywhere — driving here as often as possible to take pictures and be with people, masked of course and as much as safe social distancing allows it.

Optimal? No. But doable? Yes. We have not been alone facing compromise. Then came the money part. Cut brick-and-mortar costs or make other changes at the expense of quality our readers and advertisers deserve and expect? No brainer.

Hence Saturday’s archive transfer. We are grateful library and history center directors Ingrid Boyer and Eric Gollanek, mustering a volunteer corps that included family, were able to find space in their facilities, room in their vehicles and strength in their arms to help us relocate the heft of our history into local facilities to which all who are curious have access.

An office is an office; The Commercial Record has been in and out of many. A computer, desk, typewriter, printing press, linotype, staff, editor … all those also are interchangeable. What matters is our community and its stories.

We convey them differently now. My hope is, in time, that those physical volumes — many comprised of yellowing, aging paper — can be digitalized (or whatever the latest means of transmitting will be) and indexed to make research easier.

My hope is I too can adjust. At age 65, I am used to physical things — not just books, magazines and newspapers I can see on shelves, touch and carry with me, but contacts with other people. There is a virtue in such directness that the “virtual” world can’t have.

I will still be in town … a lot. Look for the camera-saddled beast of burden smiling despite — maybe even because of — it. Get the picture?

Email editor [email protected] or call our office phone, (269) 857-2570. They know how to reach me.

Today marks the 155th anniversary of Juneteenth, the date that U.S forces sailed into Galveston, Texas and enforced the ...
06/19/2020
The Bone and Sinew of the Land

Today marks the 155th anniversary of Juneteenth, the date that U.S forces sailed into Galveston, Texas and enforced the liberation of enslaved African Americas.
This came more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation and two months after the end of the Civil War. The date is celebrated as a second American Independence Day across the nation.

The history of race and liberty in America often focuses on the southern region of the United States. In recent years, historians like Douglas’s own Anna-Lisa Cox have worked to tell the stories of people of color in the Midwest, including many who arrived even before Michigan became a state. Listen to a presentation given in connection with Juneteenth celebrations last year. https://www.c-span.org/video/?446996-1/the-bone-sinew-land

Anna-Lisa Cox recalled America's black pioneers and the frontier they settled in the Northwest Territory prior to the Civil War.

Interested in genealogy? Did you ever want to explore your ancestry but did not know how to start?  Join us for a free v...
06/18/2020

Interested in genealogy? Did you ever want to explore your ancestry but did not know how to start?

Join us for a free virtual family history group meeting on Zoom this afternoon, Thursday, June 18 at 3:30 PM.

Volunteers from the History Center Family History group stand ready to get you started in this adventure. If you want to test the ancestral waters, all you have to do is print off and fill out as much of the tree chart below as you are able, with names, places, dates (if possible) and our experts will get you started.

Can't make today's meeting? No problem! The group meets on the 1st and 3rd Thursday of the month. They're also happy to respond to email and messages.

(Please send a Facebook instant message to this page or leave your name in the comments for login details.)

The SDHC has embraced 'rapid-response collecting' with its #3Cshutdown project.  Last night's virtual meeting explored w...
06/11/2020
Museums Collect Protest Signs to Preserve History in Real Time

The SDHC has embraced 'rapid-response collecting' with its #3Cshutdown project. Last night's virtual meeting explored what we've learned and also shared insights from museums across the country.

Today's article in the Nytimes.com highlights efforts by curators to collect artifacts of dissent in the nation's capitol.

You can also view the SDHC program streaming online now. Link in comments.

Curators surveyed the area outside the White House on Wednesday for artifacts that will help record the emotional turmoil.

The History Center has remained closed to the public since March under the statewide Stay Home order. Our stewardship of...
06/03/2020

The History Center has remained closed to the public since March under the statewide Stay Home order. Our stewardship of community history and landmarks has not stopped in spite of these challenging times. This week the SDHC’s Douglas Union School House 🏫 is getting a new roof.

The previous roof predated the SDHC’s restoration of the 153 year old building and shown signs that it had reached the end of its life.

Thanks to the community’s support at the 150th Anniversary Gala Celebration in 2017 and regular support of members, the SDHC has the maintenance funds to care for this beloved building now and for the future.

To become an SDHC member or make a donation to support preservation and local history programming for our community, please visit our main page (link in comments.)

Address

130 Center St
Douglas, MI
49406

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Comments

So I was reminiscing recently about the park and playground behind the elementary school, but I can't find any pictures of it before the remodel when it was all truck tires and amazing wood structures. I spent so much time in the little pirate ship and squirreled away in the castle. Does anyone have pictures of the playground from back then?
Father Sun wakes Mother Nature this lone morning, The fog stretched over the openness lifts adorning. Does Nature feel this isolation; our folks separation, The distant wolf howl announcing migrating fowl In notable cleaner air to float the hawk’s keener stare. This wake-up call will decide who and what we are, And should we continue our same behaviors thus far. Its price is too high to pay to never forget the day we Declared cleaner air is here and not lost in our memoir. As Father and Mother Nature wake this lone morning, The fog stretched over the openness lifting adorning. Do we vow to restore or continue behaviors as before? Or read as just life’s curve, or heed a higher warning.
Standing at Oval Beach looking east at the dune, The Baldhead tower is lit by sun under the moon. The social distance call will be interpreted by all, But the novel screech will book many a new tune.
Town is down, even in twilight the loneliness cannot be hid. Town is down; A quiet with a deafening sound.
Here in our empty town; Frightening, as is yours, Pandemic; so uninviting, So cold, still and down, So bold, shrill and biting.
Spring boating on hold.
Easter this year was a bit different thanks to the COVID-19 virus. Toilet paper instead of chocolate bunnies at the Douglas Post Office. #3CShutdown #MySDHistory
I was sorting through some boxes of old things and came across this Saugatuck sign. I don't recall when I acquired it but must have been decades ago. Does anyone have an idea when or where it might have been used?
The ‘teddy bear hunt’ is being played in countries around the world, from Australia to Japan to the United States. It’s like a scavenger hunt suited for social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic: People put teddy bears and other stuffed animals in windows, on porches, in trees and on parked cars. Then children go for walks or drives with their families and try to spot as many as they can. The game was partly inspired by the 1989 children’s book “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt,” written by Michael Rosen and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury. In recent weeks, stuffed animals have been spotted in at least 13 countries — including Japan, Australia, Germany and Scotland — and in all 50 states. And this guy in Saugatuck Township. #3CShutdown #MySDHistory
The ‘teddy bear hunt’ is being played in countries around the world, from Australia to Japan to the United States. It’s like a scavenger hunt suited for social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic: People put teddy bears and other stuffed animals in windows, on porches, in trees and on parked cars. Then children go for walks or drives with their families and try to spot as many as they can. The game was partly inspired by the 1989 children’s book “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt,” written by Michael Rosen and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury. In recent weeks, stuffed animals have been spotted in at least 13 countries — including Japan, Australia, Germany and Scotland — and in all 50 states. Like this guy in Allegan Township.
As families are forced to stay home from work and school due to COVID-19 concerns, the community is finding small ways to reach out and connect, and show their neighbors that we’re all in this together. All across social media, #aworldofhearts is trending, with pictures of hearts in all sizes and colors posted in the windows of houses, hospitals, apartments and nursing homes. It’s a simple gesture with a massive meaning. It shows that while communities may be isolated from each other due to social distancing, they can still show support, and even “play” together. #3CShutdown #MySDHistory #ShelterinSaugatuck
Sign on the door of the Douglas Congregational United Church of Christ (UCC) #3CShutdown #MySDHistory #Covid19Stories #ShelterinDouglas