Shagway Arts Barn preserves family’s heritage, celebrates creativity

July 16, 2014
Sisters Nancy and Judy Miller

Sisters Nancy and Judy Miller

By Rob Alway. Editor-in-Chief. 

HAMLIN TWP. — Preserving heritage and history is something that comes natural to sisters Judy and Nancy Miller. The two grew up vacationing at their grandparents’ farm on West Shagway Road. They were raised learning the history of the farm and the history of Mason County, which is natural for the great-nieces of the late Rose Hawley, one of the area’s most renowned local historians.

It’s no surprise then that the two would make their way back to Mason County and establish their own roots. It’s also no surprise that they would evolve the family farm into something new. On Friday, the Shagway Arts Barn will hold its grand opening, a celebration that will last all weekend, with live music.

shagway_arts_barn_hamlin_townshipThe Shagway Arts Barn features works from a variety of artists ranging from pottery, paintings, photography and 3-D. It is located on Shagway Road off of North Jebavy Drive.

Nancy and Judy both made their way back to the area a few years ago. They moved onto the family farm, which was originally homesteaded by Henry Shagway, an Ottawa Indian, in 1858. The Miller family bought the property in 1968. The structures consist of the center-piece barn, a cottage and a granary.

Nancy started cleaning out the barn three years ago and discovered many treasures that taught her about her family’s past and the history of Hamlin Township.

“Every time I worked out in the barn I would find more items that revealed more about our family,” she said. Her grandmother was still alive at the time and she was able to have her grandmother identify a lot of people in photographs she found.

Judy started helping also. One of the prized photos they found was a daguerreotype (glass plated) photograph. “It was my grandfather’s parents. We never knew their names or had ever seen a photograph of them before,” Judy said.

Word spread that the sisters were cleaning up the barn. Descendants of Henry Shagway started to show up and give them more and more history of the farm. One of those decedents has even expressed an interest in selling his work at the barn, they said.

“This place just keeps giving us treasures,” Nancy said.

The barn has undergone a few minor updates, like the addition of a stairway to the loft, a deck and a paved parking lot. New siding was put on the barn to help improve insulation. But, for the most part, it is still in its original state.

Judy and Nancy want a visit to the Shagway Arts Barn to be an experience. The 40-acres of land features nature trails that visitors will be able to explore. They also plan to have live entertainment throughout the summer season.

The barn will be open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 8 p.m.

For more information on this weekend’s activities, check out the barn’s Facebook page here.