Historical Society opens Mason County Research Center.

September 2, 2022

Historical Society opens Mason County Research Center.

Around the County is a presentation of Preferred Credit Union, www.preferredcu.org, located locally at 266 N. Jebavy Dr., Ludington.

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

LUDINGTON — The next chapter in the history of the Mason County Historical Society began Thursday, Sept. 1, when the organization officially opened its Mason County Research Center in downtown Ludington. Located in the former PNC Bank building at 130 E. Ludington Avenue, on the southwest corner of Ludington Avenue and Harrison Street, the building is part of a three phase multi-million dollar long-term expansion planned by the private non-profit organization. 

The new building offers a climate-controlled environment for the society to store its massive collection of artifacts and records, accumulated since its founding in 1937. The Emporium and Sweet Shop is the public entrance of the facility, selling local souvenirs and candy, along with history books. The research center is accessible by appointment. There is a cost to use the facility, but members are able to utilize the facility for a select number of appointments at no cost. 

The building also features Legacy Hall, a multi-purpose gathering room that celebrates people who created legacies that have shaped Mason County. The individuals and families profiled all developed successful businesses and became philanthropists who gave back to the community and inspired others to serve for the betterment of all. Today a variety of parks, homes, public facilities, and services reflect the generosity that has collectively made this county a wonderful place to live, learn, work, and play. The hall will be available for rent. 

Upon entering the research center’s main hall visitors will see an expansive mural that honors Mason County’s 15 townships, many of which are named after Civil War generals. 

The Emporium and Sweet Shop is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The research center will be open year-round. 

Free tours will be offered today and Saturday, Sept. 3 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Contact the historical society by email at amber@mchshistory.org to make a reservation.

The Mason County Historical Society was founded on Nov. 30, 1937 when a group of about 40 people met at the Mason County Courthouse to form the society. The society initially lacked a building to house and display its collection. Temporary displays were located in the modern City Center Building (northeast corner of Ludington Avenue and James Street), Ludington Public Library and other buildings. 

In 1951, Rose Hawley, through her affiliation with the Church of Christ, facilitated the use of the church’s basement at 201 N. James St. In 1961, the historical society purchased the former Ludington Church of the Nazarene building at 305 E. Filer St. and moved its collection there. A few years later, Jerome Jorissen led an effort for the historical society to purchase the Burr Caswell house, Mason County’s first permanent home, on the Buttersville Peninsula in Pere Marquette Township. This land eventually became Pioneer Village, which opened in 1976. The name was later changed to Historic White Pine Village. 

In 1986, the society purchased the building at 115 W. Loomis St. which had housed Michigan Consolidated Gas Co. (now the People’s Church). That location was sold in 1995 when the historical society moved its collection to White Pine Village where it has been stored until 2022. 

From left: former executive directors Thom Hawley, Ron Wood, Rick Plummer and current executive director Rebecca Berringer.

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