Historical Society Campaign Surpasses $2M Mark

Harbor Springs, Michigan, February 13, 2023 – The comprehensive fundraising campaign for the Harbor Springs historical corridor topped the $2 million mark in January, as the Harbor Springs Area Historical Society and its supporters push to bring in the final million dollars of the $3 million campaign by the end of 2023.

“We are so happy that our modest gift made a difference,” said longtime historical society members and supporters Fred and Kay Geuder of Petoskey. “We have appreciated all the great programs the historical society has presented over the years, but honestly the current push to bring new life to the Shay House and History Museum really struck us. The society’s plans will make a huge impact on a community that has meant so much to us.”

The emerging historical corridor sits at the eastern approach to Main Street, anchored by two significant buildings – the unique hexagonal home of noted Harbor Springs resident and inventor Ephraim Shay and the 1886 former city hall, which since 2008 has served as the home of the historical society’s History Museum.

Both buildings require significant capital funding – to restore and install innovative experiential exhibits in the new Shay Innovation Museum and to undertake essential preservation repairs and technology-driven gallery updates in the History Museum. Interior structural work on the Shay House should be completed by summer in preparation for new exhibit design and installation in early 2024.

“As we enter the homestretch of our campaign, we are so appreciative of the support from our community’s visionary citizens,” said the society’s Executive Director Kristyn Balog, “people who see the tremendous value our historic legacy brings to maintaining a strong community fabric. We hope other residents, year-round and seasonal, will step up to help us realize our transformational goals.”

On a parallel track, the historical society and train enthusiasts are raising funds in real time to restore a major new historical asset, a 1907 36-ton Shay Locomotive, donated in 2021 to the society by Stephen F. Austin State University in Texas. The iconic log-hauling engine is undergoing a major overhaul at the Industrial Arts Institute in Onaway, the same organization that performed restoration work on the all-steel Aha boat, now on display in Shay Park.

The locomotive body and running gear have been sandblasted, revealing key brass fittings. Next step, funding permitting, is preparation of a reconstruction timeline that will include reassembly and fabrication of a historically accurate wood cab.