One of the strange happenings in this area has to do with a town that disappeared: Singapore, Michigan. The only evidence of this once thriving town are the sands near the mouth of the Kalamazoo River. It is Michigan's most famous ghost town.
This actual town was founded in the 1830's by New York land speculators. They somehow thought that Singapore would be bigger and better than Milwaukee, Wisconsin, or Chicago, Illinois! Because of its busy lake port and its lumber industry, it was a important town up until 1870. It had 3 mills, 2 hotels, a few general stores, and a bank known as a "Wild-cat" bank.
At that time, Singapore was far bigger and more important than its neighbor, Saugatuck [which was called "The Flats" at that time].
They just kept chopping down the trees, and once the timber was exhausted, then the mills closed and the waterfront had no business. Of course, the people left [most of them moved to Saugatuck].
What happened to the town...it was gradually covered over by the Lake Michigan shifting sands and is part of the dunes today. It effectively became a ghost town. I did a little research and discovered that the only real evidence is a few obsolete bank notes.
The photo is one of the dunes in the area where Sinapore once existed.
While walking around Saugatuck, I was attracted to a frame building that displays Colonial Revival influences. I walked up close and observed that it was the Saugatuck Village Hall.
It was originally the Saugatuck Engine House and Council Room. After doing some research, I found that it was erected about 1879 to 1880. It was revised in the late 1920's when the building became the seat of municipal government. It housed the fire department on the first floor until about 1953; the second floor served as the council chamber.
In about 1929, they dug a basement where they moved the jail, and it remained there for 20 years.
An art gallery was opened by the Saugatuck Art Association in the 1930's. Still today, the city council honors art in the community by displaying and rotating works of art in the chambers of the City Council.
Today, this historic building serves as the Saugatuck City Hall. Saugatuck became a City in 1984 ,and then, about four years later, the interior of the building was redesigned. Modern offices for the Clerk, Police, Mayor, Treasurer, and City Manager were created.
In 1990, this wonderful building was listed on the Michigan's State Register of Historic Sites. And, would you believe, this buildings has been in continuous use for over 110 years. Remarkable.
Favorite thing: We've always found Saugatuck loding hard to come by. It's such a weekend place and during the week, families and couples come to spend the week. Either book early or -------> Stay in Holland! It's only 6 miles (10 km) up the road and there are plenty of places to stay. Weekends in the lower cost hotels can be full, but there has always been rooms available. See My Holland page or VT's Holland page.
Right in the heart of downtown Douglas on 130 Center Street, is the DOUGLAS UNION SCHOOL which was built in 1866.
There is a Plaque in front of the School which reads:
"In 1866, faced with the growth
of what were then the separate
villages of Douglas and Dudleyville,
Saugatuck Township District No. 3
and 4 merged forming Union District
No. 3. The Douglas Union School
opened for classes in September 1866
One male and one female teacher
taught 129 pupils that year. Early
newspapers reported church services,
conserts and social eents taking
place in the building's second floor
hall. When it closed in 1957, the
school had four classrooms. They
were converted to apartments during
the 1960's. The Bell, made by the
Buckeye Bell Foundry of Cincinnati
Ohio, was removed and relocated at
the new elementary school."
Located at 86 Center Street, the DUTCHER LODGE NO. 193 was chartered in 1867 and has a Plaque in front which reads:
"Masons from Douglas, Fennville
and Saugatuck chartered Dutcher
Lodge No. 193 on January 10, 1867.
From 1867 to 1870 they held
meetings in a building owned by
Worshipful Master Thomas Dutcher.
In 1875 the western portion of
this building was constructed on
land cleared of a cemetery. Lodge
members used the second floor,
leaving the first floor available
for government and civic meetings.
The building was doubled in size
with the construction of the
eastern half in 1902. that section
became known as the Village Hall.
douglas's first fire truck was parked in
the lower level until 1969.
Dutcher Lodge is a rare example of
a Masonic Lodge still in use a
century after its construction"
Thanks to the Saugatuck/Douglas Convention and Visitors Bureau for the following description: Saugatuck, and a sister community called Singapore down the Kalamazoo River, were settled in the mid-1800s by lumber interests. For many decades they supported a thriving mix of sawmills, planning mills, shingle mills, barrel factories and other wood product firms. Saugatuck contributed much of the lumber used to rebuild Chicago after the Great Fire of 1871.
When the trees were gone, however, so were lumber men. Several mills were actually loaded aboard Great Lakes schooners to be transported elsewhere. The dearth of trees resulted in a particularly harsh fate for Saugatuck's downriver neighbor. Without their presence as a windbreak, blowing sand gradually buried the village and today it lives on only in stories as the 'Lost City of Singapore.'
Saugatuck, however, survived. The resort trade that started to emerge at the turn of the century took a propitious turn in 1910 when a group of Chicago artists established the Summer School of Painting on Ox-Bow Lagoon in Saugatuck.
Today the Art Institute of Chicago operates Ox-Bow and offers a wide range of summer course work including metalsmithing, printmaking, performance art, glassblowing, writing, ceramics and, of course, painting and drawing.
Hans and I visited Saugatuck on Thursday, September 12, 2013. It is a short half hour drive from South Haven.
Located in southwest Michigan, in Allegan County, SAUGATUCK, along with the adjacent town of Douglas, is a noted art colony and tourist destination.
Saugatuck was originally a lumber town and Port, but today, tourists are drawn to the art galleries, harbor, marina and its unique boutiques.
Points of interest include the Saugatuck Chain Ferry, Star of Saugatuck Paddle-wheel boat, Oval Beach, Saugatuck Dunes State Park and the view from atop Mount Baldhead.
Saugatuck's primary source of revenue is from tourism and is a prime summer weekend getaway destination for Chicago residents who are attracted by the many bed & breakfasts in the area.