Maritime museum reaching fund raising goal

May 1, 2014

LUDINGTON — If a series of generous gifts from the corporate and private sector are any indication, the Ludington community is eager to start building the much-anticipated Port of Ludington Maritime Museum in the former U.S. Coast Guard Station. And with only $800,000 to close the gap on the $4 million budget for Phase I, construction should start in late summer. Now Mason County Historical Society is asking everyone in the community to help raise the final amount.

This month, the historical society launches a public fundraising campaign, “Preserve Our Past. Anchor Our Future,” designed to give individuals an easy, affordable and fun way to support the museum. The campaign will feature a variety of giving opportunities – from community fundraising dinners, to a charter Friends of the Port of Ludington Maritime Museum program, to other activities yet to be named.

“We are humbled and gratified by the generous donations we have already received, not only from corporations, but from anonymous individuals who are passionate about Ludington’s maritime heritage,” said Dr. Bill Anderson, chair of the Port of Ludington Maritime Museum fundraising committee. “Through the launch of our public campaign, we are offering more giving levels to make it affordable for everyone to get involved.”


Fundraising Goal Closes In with More Donor Gifts

The Mason County Historical Society has received an influx of large donations from the public and private sectors through private solicitations in the last six months that has pushed the fundraising committee closer to its goal. Some recent gifts include:


Ludington Area Convention & Visitors Bureau                 $100,000

Mason County Community Foundation                            $20,000

West Shore Bank                                                             $20,000

Shelby Bank                                                                     $5,000

Meijer                                                                               Undisclosed amount

Anonymous individual donations                                     $350,000+ (including a matching gift of up to $200,000 if the public gives $100,000)

Of special note is the Ludington Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, which is donating the largest sum in its history to the development of a single tourism attraction.

“The Ludington Area Convention & Visitors Bureau believes that the Port of Ludington Maritime Museum will be a tremendous addition to our community and slate of attractions,” said Brandy Henderson, CVB executive director. “Our contribution to the development of the maritime museum reflects the importance the museum will play in offering a year-round, indoor attraction for our visitors to experience – which is important to the bureau and the future of our state tourism business.”

Public Fundraising Campaign Launches with House of Flavors Dinners, Friends Program

The public campaign will kick off this month with two community fundraising dinners at the Ludington location of House of Flavors. From 5 – 9 p.m. on Wednesday, May 14 and Tuesday, May 20, 30 percent of all proceeds from diners during that time will directly support the Port of Ludington Maritime Museum. Diners also will be seated by Mason County Historical Society volunteers who will explain the project, and the restaurant will showcase maritime memorabilia in honor of the museum.

“We feel strongly about supporting this incredible showpiece of a museum that tells an important story about our region’s heritage,” said Barry Neal, general manager of the Ludington-headquartered business that will be in walking distance to the new museum. “We challenge others in the community to join us in creating opportunities to raise funds and support this new community landmark.”

Mason County Historical Society also is rolling out a Friends of the Port of Ludington Maritime Museum program, whereby a $100 charter Friend membership includes a free museum family membership for the first year of operation, a quarterly newsletter, and recognition on a plaque inside the museum. Individuals can purchase a Friend membership or make a general donation to the museum campaign at, or by personal check to Mason County Historical Society (mention “PLMM” in the note section) mailed to Mason County Historical Society / Port of Ludington Maritime Museum Office, 1687 S Lakeshore Dr., Ludington, MI  49431. Individuals who wish to create a customized gift or explore naming opportunities can contact Dr. Anderson at or 231.845.5684.

Other museum-related events include a keynote address about the museum by Dr. Anderson at the Pentwater Historical Society Annual Meeting Aug. 20, and the 2015 Ludington Lake Jump (date TBD), for which the museum was chosen as the charity benefactor. Organizations interested in requesting a presentation about the Port of Ludington Maritime Museum or hosting a fundraising event are encouraged to contact Dr. Anderson.

Phase I Targeted to Begin This Summer; Phase II to Follow with Maritime Park

Sights now are on fundraising for Phase I to begin renovation this summer on the interior infrastructure of the former Coast Guard Station and restoration on the exterior to resemble the station when it was built in 1934. Assuming the project follows this planned start time, construction should be completed in 2015, with the museum opening in 2016. A recently-approved Phase II could start soon thereafter that would extend the museum footprint to include a maritime park.  The city has designated a piece of property south of the Loomis Street boat launch along the north shore of the channel as the Ludington Maritime Heritage Park.

“If the Maritime Museum were a home, this maritime park will be the front yard,” said Kate Arbogast, executive director of the Mason County Historical Society who will manage the properties. “It not only will beautify the space, but it will also provide even more interpretive areas about our county’s rich maritime history.”

The park will showcase a Maritime Heritage Trail with approximately 15 planned stops, some of which include:

• A one-of-a-kind museum building dedicated to the region’s charter fishing industry and Coast Guard rescue operations, featuring a simulator exhibit to give visitors the feel of a rescue mission; a 44-foot, decommissioned U.S. Coast Guard motor lifeboat from 1965; and the 1970s-era Finlander charter boat that served as one of the earliest charter boats operating out of the Port of Ludington.

• A historic fish market building that was on the corner of Filer and Loomis Streets first operated by Swedish immigrants active in commercial fishing, donated by the Lake Michigan Car Ferry.

• Bronze sculpture commemorating Ludington’s sport fishing industry.

About the Port of Ludington Maritime Museum

Housed in Ludington’s historic U.S. Coast Guard Station, a city landmark listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Port of Ludington Maritime Museum is targeted to open in 2016.  This maritime attraction will offer a “museum within a museum” on the waterfront, featuring interactive exhibits and activities highlighting Ludington’s Great Lakes car ferry history, local service of the U.S. Life Saving Service and U.S. Coast Guard, and development of Ludington’s harbor. Phase II plans will include an adjacent Maritime Heritage Park showcasing a Maritime Heritage Trail with approximately 15 stops. Visit for more information.

About the Mason County Historical Society

Established in 1937, the Mason County Historical Society (MCHS) is a private, membership-based, non-profit organization dedicated to educating about and perpetuating Mason County’s history. In addition to managing the future Port of Ludington Maritime Museum, the Society owns and manages Historic White Pine Village and on-site research library, the Mason County Sports Hall of Fame, and Ludington Mariners Old Time Baseball team. Visit for more information.