Exploring Mason County’s past at Historic White Pine Village

July 7, 2023

Exploring Mason County’s past at Historic White Pine Village

MI Travelogue is presented to you by House of Flavors Restaurant of Ludington, celebrating 75 years. 

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief

PERE MARQUETTE TOWNSHIP — Historic White Pine Village is a a popular attraction for visitors to our area but is also a must-see attraction for locals who want to learn more about the history of Mason County. The Village includes 30 historic exhibit buildings, including the Burr Caswell house. Built in 1847, it is the oldest house in Mason County and, beginning in 1849, served as the county’s first courthouse. 

The Caswell house, built in 1847.

Several of the other buildings on the site are original Mason County structures while many others are replicas. 

I have visited White Pine Village since its beginning in 1976 when it was known as Pioneer Village. Each time I visit, I learn something new about Mason County. As a local historian, it gives me inspiration for new research. 

I often bring my children, ages 8 and 10, to explore the Village. With each visit, they also learn a little more about their home, Mason County. 

The concept for the Village began in the early 1960s when local historian Rose Hawley, who was serving on the Mason County Historical Society board of directors, began inquiring about the fate of the Caswell house, located on the Adam Patterson estate on South Lakeshore Drive. 

On June 8, 1965, the Society purchased the house and 2.6 acres around it with the assistance of Jerome Jorissen, who was president of the Society. 

“Of the opinion that having just the one house on the property would be of little historic value, Mrs. Hawley and the board of directors made known their plans for a pioneer village and several buildings were donated for the project,” a 1970 newspaper article about Rose Hawley stated. 

After several years of planning, Pioneer Village officially opened in July 1976. The name was eventually changed due to a conflict with another park that had the same name. For several years, the Village operated with funding from a millage from county taxpayers. That millage ended in the early 1990s and the Society has operated as a completely private non-profit organization since. 

Historic White Pine Village is located on South Lakeshore Drive, south of Iris Road in Pere Marquette Township. It is currently open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The cost is $15 for adults; $13 for adults ages 60 and over; $11 for children between the ages of 4-13 and free for children under the age of 4. 

The Mason County Historical Society also operates the Port of Ludington Maritime Museum, located in the old U.S. Coast Guard Station on Lakeshore Drive in Ludington and the Mason County Research Center and Emporium at 130 E. Ludington Ave. in downtown Ludington. Learn more here.

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