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Center hosts ‘Stories of Summer’ reception, talks

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The Saugatuck-Douglas History Center will introduce its new “Stories of Summer” exhibition in the Old School House, 130 Center St., Douglas, with a free public reception and presentation there Wednesday, June 12.

The reception, held in the Back In Time Garden behind the building, will start at 5 p.m. The indoor program will begin at 7.

Throughout last year, a collaborative effort by the SDHC and Grand Valley State University’s Kutsche Office of Local History gathered oral-history interviews with 31 community members, recalling their experiences and perceptions of Saugatuck area life in the mid-20th century.

The project was funded in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities through its Common Heritage program, with the mission of capturing America’s cultural heritage “hidden” in personal life stories, family histories, photo albums, newspaper clippings and other home memorabilia.

GVSU students and staff processed the recorded interviews for transcription and digital access/preservation. The result of their efforts, expressed in the new exhibit, combines interpretive panels made by GVSU staff and students with selected artifacts and artwork, memorializing topics such as beach life, the Ox-Bow School of Art, Big Pavilion, Red Barn Theater, “youth invasion” of the 1960s and emergence of the area’s LGBTQ community.

The outdoor reception, sponsored by Century 21 Affiliated from 5 to 7 p.m., will offer appetizers, beverages and band entertainment by Halfway Creek. Additional support provided by the West Michigan Blue Star Chamber of Commerce and Huntington Bank in Douglas, includes an ice cream truck.

The indoor program, from 7 to 8 p.m., will tell the story behind Stories of Summer, with SDHC director Eric Gollannek and Kutsche Office director Kim McKee. It will be sponsored by Button Gallery of Douglas plus Center members Don Olendorf and John Thomas.

The SDHC’s free monthly program series presents entertaining and informative insights into local history and community life. For more information about the Center, its Pump House Museum in Saugatuck, Old School House and coming, visit MySDHistory.org.