Major Fundraising Campaign to Create Historical Corridor

“There may have been a time when preservation was about saving an old building here or there, but those days are gone. Preservation is in the business of saving communities and the values they embody.” – Richard Moe, National Trust for Historic Preservation

Harbor Springs, Michigan, July 8, 2022 – To offer new insightful and entertaining interpretation of the community’s unique history, the Harbor Springs Area Historical society has embarked on a comprehensive $3 million fundraising campaign – “Bringing History to Life” – with the dual goals of developing a Harbor Springs historical corridor and building a preservation and operational endowment.

A fully fleshed-out corridor will ensure that Harbor Springs’ fascinating stories of early Native American cultures, 19th-Century settlement, logging, 20th-Century lifestyles, maritime activity and tourism will convey a vibrant sense of place and tradition for year-round and seasonal residents and visitors.

“It is important to remember that the historical society is a nonprofit organization with a lean staff and a volunteer board,” said Historical Society Board Chair Vince Mihalik at the campaign’s public kickoff event at the History Museum on July 7.  “While the two fulltime and two part-time staff present dozens of popular programs throughout the year, by far our primary source of income is private philanthropy . . . donations from a growing group of supporters who truly care about our heritage.”

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.

“To serve as a solid foundation for meaningful storytelling, both buildings require significant capital funding – to restore and install innovative experiential exhibits in the Shay House and to undertake essential preservation repairs and technology-driven gallery updates in the History Museum,” said Kristyn Balog, the society’s executive director. 

“These critical improvements, coupled with a successful preservation endowment, will enable staff to have state-of-the-art facilities from which to present captivating new exhibits and educational programming to current and future generations,” Balog said.

The History Museum also houses a comprehensive archive of Harbor Springs-area history and an extensive collection of one-of-a-kind artifacts. To properly care for these thousands of valuable items, and provide access to them for research and interpretive projects, the campaign seeks to create a much-needed operational endowment.

Led by a volunteer cabinet, the campaign has raised nearly half of the goal during a yearlong silent phase. The entire effort is set to wind up by the end of 2023.

“Since 1990, the Harbor Springs Area Historical Society has both stewarded and promoted our town’s compelling history and the lessons it can impart to an appreciative public,” said cabinet co-chair Ann Baruch. “Our much-treasured past plays a huge role in making Harbor Springs a town truly like no other.”

“I know I speak for all of our volunteer cabinet members when I say how fortunate our community is to have such a dynamic board of trustees and staff working so effectively for the benefit of our residents and visitors now and years into the future,” Baruch said. “We know individuals and businesses will rally around this inspiring initiative with their support in our best small town tradition.”


The Campaign for the Harbor Springs Historical Corridor

Overall Goal:  $3 million

Ephraim Shay Innovation Museum

Restoration of Shay House and creation of new innovation-themed and interactive museum

Goal:  $1.8 million

Harbor Springs History Museum

Building preservation, visitor experience upgrades and major re-installation of technology-driven local history and exhibit galleries

Goal:  $700,000

Preservation and Operating Endowment

Creation of critical supplemental income stream

Goal:  $500,000