Douglas in Allegan County, Michigan — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
Welcome to Historic Douglas
†††††In 1869, a drawbridge, later replaced by a swing bridge, was built near the present site. In fact, the river was a critical asset that enabled the lumber mills to float logs in and ship lumber out. By 1862, a second saw mill at the east end of Center Street went into operation and Gerberís tannery further south along the shore was moving hides and hemlock bark by riverboat. Dan Gerber and his son Milton later became owners of other local businesses and their descendants founded the Gerber Baby Food business in Fremont, Michigan.
†††††During the 1870's the population was about 500. The commercial activity, as reported in the Commercial Record,
†††††The early 1900's saw the advent of tourism and the arrival of summer residents who built cottages along the Lake Michigan shoreline. Tourism became the dominant influence for the next 100 years. Today thousands of year round and seasonal residents are proud to call Douglas their home.
(Center Illustration Caption)
Douglas Birdís Eye View - 1907
This drawing provides an accurate and unique perspective of Douglas as it looked in the early 20th century. The numbered locations are featured in the photos. The large dotted line is the route of the present day Blue Star Highway and bridge that was completed in 1936.
1 - Douglas Union School ca 1915
The school was built in 1866 by local ships carpenters directed by Jonas Crouse. In the first year, there were 112 students and three female teachers. Over the years, the grades offered were from first to tenth. In 1957, the building was closed for school use.
2 - Methodist Episcopal Church ca 1894
The church was built in 1870 and active until 1894. At that time, the church disbanded and the building became an Odd Fellows hall and later clubhouse of the Douglas Athletic Club. It currently is the home of the Saugatuck-Douglas District Library.
3 - Basket Factory ca 1900
The first mill at this location was a saw mill established by Jonathon Wade in 1851. It was acquired by the Dutcher family, then by William Weed and finally by his son, Elmer E. Weed, who had partners D. Milton Gerber and James G. Wark. The business evolved from a sawmill to a woodwork mill to basket manufacturing and was a very successful business. The facility was destroyed by fire in the spring of 1927.
4 - Ferry Landing ca 1907
The ferry landing dock at the east end of Center Street was used by small passenger ferries that ran between downtown Saugatuck and Douglas.
5 - Swing Bridge ca 1910
In 1902, a swing bridge replaced the 1870 drawbridge at that location. A keeper minded the bridge during the navigation season. In 1936, the Blue Star Highway was opened and it included a huge
6 - Ball Team ca 1904
The game of baseball has a long history of great success in Douglas and Beery Field has been the home of many successful teams for over a hundred years.
7 - Keewatin 1967
The Keewatin is seen here as she arrived from Canada on her way to a permanent berth at the foot of Union Street. The vessel was purchased by R.J. Peterson from the Canadian Pacific Railroad to become a marine museum. Built in 1907, the Keewatin was a veteran of service on the Great Lakes carrying passengers and freight.
8 - Businesses on Center Street ca 1895
The photo was taken from the roof of Dutcher Lodge, now the site of the Douglas City offices and the view is to the northeast. The church in the foreground is the Congregational Church on the corner of Spring and Wall Streets. It was built in 1883 and exists today as the Douglas Congregational - United Church of Christ.
9 - Congregational Church ca 1912
The block between Main and Spring Streets has always been the heart of downtown Douglas.
Erected by Charles and Betsy Hill.
Location. 42° 38.63′ N, 86° 12.202′ W. Marker is in Douglas, Michigan, in Allegan Touch for map. Marker is located in front of the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society History Center. Marker is at or near this postal address: 130 W. Center Street, Douglas MI 49406, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Dr. Asa Goodrich House (a few steps from this marker); Douglas Union School (within shouting distance of this marker); Dutcher Lodge No. 193 / Douglas (within shouting distance of this marker); The Old School House (within shouting distance of this marker); Mt. Baldhead (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Sarah M. Kirby House (approx. 0.2 miles away); Singapore, Michigan (approx. 0.8 miles away); Saugatuck Engine House (approx. 0.8 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Douglas.
More about this marker. Marker is at Site #17 of the Allegan County Heritage Trail.
Also see . . . Allegan County Heritage Trail. (Submitted on May 12, 2014.)
Categories. • Industry & Commerce • Settlements & Settlers • Waterways & Vessels •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on May 12, 2014, by Duane Hall of Abilene, Texas. This page has been viewed 334 times since then and 36 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on May 12, 2014, by Duane Hall of Abilene, Texas. 5. submitted on July 31, 2011, by Dave Zollinger of Goshen, Indiana. 6, 7. submitted on May 12, 2014, by Duane Hall of Abilene, Texas.