DOUGLAS, Mich. (WOOD) — An old school turned apartment turned museum is home to a number of exhibit spaces and the archives of the Saugatuck-Douglas area.
In 2005, the Saugatuck Douglas History Center acquired the old Douglas Union School building at 130 Center St. near Ellis Street, which opened in 1867.
“It was called the Union School because, nothing to do with the Civil War directly, but (it) had multiple classrooms in it. So instead of one-room schoolhouses, this is a schoolhouse with four different classrooms, four different rooms brought together,” Eric Gollannek, executive director, said.
He said the building functioned as a school for students from kindergarten to fifth grade from 1867 until 1957. After the school closed, it was turned into apartments.
“It didn’t really look much like a school on the inside anymore, and the history center renovated the building and now there are galleries and our archive space, offices and a meeting space in the old school,” he said.
The museum features three main gallery spaces with changing exhibits. One of the exhibit spaces houses art exhibits, specifically artwork created by local artists.
“There’s a historical art exhibit that people can view. It’s one of the only places in the area to be able to see that work,” Gollannek said.
The two other spaces are rotating exhibits. In the fall, the museum displayed the “A Century of Progress: 100 Years of LGBTQ history in Saugatuck-Douglas” exhibit. The second space housed “History Book: LGBTQ Portraits,” which showcased influential figures from the LGBTQ community. Both exhibits closed over the winter. New exhibits are in the works and will be opening in the spring.
The old school also houses the archive and collections for the history center.
“We are kind of the community’s archives here and have a growing collection of original photographs, letters, papers, ephemera, promotional material, advertisements, etc., as well as some small objects that just help tell the story of (the) history of the area,” Gollannek said.
The archives are open to the public. Anyone interested in visiting is asked to call 269.857.7900.
Outside the museum, visitors can explore the 2-acre property. It features gardens, historic markers and an 1850s lifesaving service rowboat.
“The lifesaving boat is a very early metal boat and it’s only two of its kind that survives in the world,” Gollannek said, adding that it’s in the boat barn in the garden, which also houses an exhibit on shipwrecks.
The museum is open throughout the year with varying hours. Contact email@example.com or visit the Saugatuck-Douglas History Center’s Facebook page to see up-to-date hours.
For more information, visit the Old School House’s website.