New historical museum begins Season II

May 28, 2015

pwt hst museum -1Story and photos contributed by Ron Beeber.

PENTWATER — Moved last year from the basement of the village hall to the renovated, former First Baptist Church, the Pentwater Historical Society’s Museum is now open to visitors through October. Hours are 1-4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday during June through August, and 1-4 p.m. on Thursday through Saturday during September and October.

pwt hst museum -2“Our museum is better than ever,” said Director Ed Bigelow, “thanks to the volunteer efforts of many.  Since last fall, they performed tasks such as clearing the grounds of fall and winter debris; machining 32 new bell tower louvers that will soon be installed; renovating lower level rooms to make them comfortable and functional; continued repairing of stained glass windows; and adding main floor electrical outlets. This allowed us to relocate display cabinets and make room for traveling and special displays.”

The first display — until July 15 — is a traveling collection of photographs taken by Vincent Musi called “Yesterday on the West Michigan Pike.”  The Pike was conceived by West Michigan leaders in 1911 so motorists could travel from Chicago up the lakeshore to the Straits of Mackinac on smooth roads instead of deep ruts, mud and sand. Pentwater was marked on that route.

“We are excited to now be able to host traveling exhibits like this one,” added Bigelow.  A second special exhibit is planned for July 21 through Sept. 15 called, “Lost and Found Shipwrecks of West Michigan.”

The museum’s displays are constantly evolving.  “We continue to add to our permanent collection as people with a connection to Pentwater visit or hear about the museum, and donate artifacts,” said Bigelow.

pwt hst museum -3One such item acquired last fall and installed over the winter is a section of slate blackboard from the old Pentwater School building.  “It has probably been touched by every student educated in that wonderful building,” Bigelow said. It was fun to have Lucy Macher’s Pentwater School third grade class recently visit the museum. Each student wrote their name on that blackboard. Perhaps some have early family members who did the same years ago.”

During the school year, the museum welcomes student groups during May, September and October if arrangements are made in advance.  A “treasure hunt” game is available for younger student visitors who search for various artifacts on a checklist.

During 2014, nearly 2,000 visitors experienced Pentwater history as displayed in the museum. Almost 700 artifacts were received from 80 individual donors.

Admission to the museum is free, but contributions are welcomed and several level of memberships are offered. The public also can support various fundraisers. The next two are an “All You Can Eat” Pancake Breakfast from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Father’s Day, June 21; and a Summer Tea Party at 3 p.m. on July 18 where women are encouraged to wear a big hat.

More information is available at pentwaterhistoricalsociety.org.

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