Restoration of the Aha

Historical Society looks to create “historic district” with addition of Shay’s Aha boat on display in park …

Blessing Boat Parade Sets Sail July 2

Traditions live on in Harbor Springs and there is no better time or way to kick-off the summer and celebrates the rich maritime history of the area than with a blessing of all watercraft for a safe boating season.

Northern Origins: A Collaborative History Journal

While we are all at home due to COVID-19 many of us are looking for something new to do, read, or experience. With that in mind, the Harbor Springs Area Historical Society is proud to announce that we partnered with the Harbor Light Newspaper to create Northern Origins. Northern Origins features nearly a dozen articles written by Historical Society staff on various aspects of our community’s history. You can read the journal online here. Physical copies will be printed in the coming months.

Restoring History Begins at the Ephraim Shay Hexagon House

Restoring History Begins at the Ephraim Shay Hexagon House

Last week, the Harbor Springs Area Historical Society began its work to “Save the Shay.” The Historical Society, which was gifted the Shay Hexagon House in late 2016, is in the first stages of a campaign to restore this historic treasure for the enjoyment of generations to come. The Shay House, built by Ephraim Shay in 1892, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is remarkable not only for its architectural quirks (the interior and exterior are clad in stamped steel) but because of the man who lived there. Shay is best known for his invention of...

HSAHS Appoints Three New Members to Board

HSAHS Appoints Three New Members to Board

New representatives include Molly Baker, Matt Parmenter and Lee Ford Walsh. The Harbor Springs Area Historical Society – a non-profit, Board-led organization whose mission is to bring history to life through exhibits, events and education – announces three new members to its Board of Trustees. Joining the Board of Trustees are Molly Baker, Matt Parmenter and Lee Ford Walsh.  “All three of our newest Board members embody the spirit of community and bring talent, expertise and energy to the table. We are very fortunate to have them by our side, as we continue to guide the Historical Society into a successful future,” said Kristyn Balog, Executive Director. Molly Baker and her...

Historical Society Evaluates Stabilizing the Historic AHA Boat

Historical Society Evaluates Stabilizing the Historic AHA Boat

A familiar sight to anyone passing by the Harbor Springs bus garage on Fairview Street is Ephraim Shay’s rusty relic, the Aha. The Harbor Springs Area Historical Society owns the Aha and is looking into possibilities to display this important piece of Harbor Springs history. To that end, the Industrial Arts Institute of Onaway was commissioned to move the 1893 boat to their facility for further evaluation. The project is slated to be a thorough review of stabilization and restoration options with associated costs, and research into a final display location. Ephraim Shay, one of Harbor Springs most notable residents,...

Regatta History in Harbor Springs

Regatta History in Harbor Springs

It’s Ugotta Regatta weekend in Harbor Springs and our town is filled with boat enthusiasts and community members eager to watch the racing. Did you know that this annual tradition dates back to 1891 when the Little Traverse Boat Club (now the Little Traverse Yacht Club) was first established? An article in the Daily Resorter from July 21, 1891 reads “IT’S A GO. THE AUGUST REGATTA AN ASSURED EVENT. Organization of a Permanent Association to be Known as the Little Traverse Boat Club.” The article chronicles the history of other boat races on Little Traverse Bay, like the regatta held...

HSAHS Board Hires New Executive Director

HSAHS Board Hires New Executive Director

The Harbor Springs Area Historical Society’s Board of Trustees has selected Kristyn Balog to serve as the organization’s Executive Director. “After an extensive search, the Board of Trustees is excited to welcome Kristyn Balog to lead the Historical Society into the future,” said David White, President of the Board. “Kristyn has been with the Historical Society since April 2018 serving as the organization’s Development & Campaign Manager. More recently, she has been serving as Interim Executive Director. She is innovative, energetic and has great experience with community building. Under her leadership, the Historical Society has already taken steps to implement...

Zorn Park Cannon

Zorn Park Cannon

Imagine the excitement local residents experienced in December 1909 when an authentic Civil War cannon arrived by rail in the Village of Harbor Springs. For over a century, the cannon in Zorn Park has stood sentinel along our historic waterfront yet it speaks little of its own history.  The IX-inch Dahlgren cannon saw service in the Union Navy during the Civil War aboard the USS Powhatan. It weighs over 4½ tons and was capable of throwing a 90-pound shell two miles. Many decades after its Civil War service, the cannon arrived in Harbor Springs. On December 7, 1909, the Petoskey...

Historical Society Announces New Board Chair

Historical Society Announces New Board Chair

Last month, the Harbor Springs Area Historical Society’s Board of Trustees welcomed its new president, David C. White. White succeeds past president Tim Tippett who finished two terms on the Historical Society’s board. “This is an exciting time for the Historical Society,” said Tippett, a Harbor Springs graduate and elementary educator. “2017 was a big year with the gift of the Shay Hexagon House. I’m proud of the progress we have made as an organization.” Incoming president David White and his wife Cathy retired to Harbor Springs about three years ago after many years of visiting northern Michigan. A Michigan native, White...

Call for Entries: Memories and Art in the Making

Call for Entries: Memories and Art in the Making

The Harbor Springs Area Historical Society invites the public to submit original artwork for our summer 2018 exhibit titled Memories and Art in the Making: Celebrating the Community We Share. This juried exhibit will run from July through September 2018 at the Ephraim Shay Hexagon House at 396 E Main Street, Harbor Springs. Individuals aged 16 and older are encouraged to submit two-dimensional artwork for the exhibit. (One piece of artwork per artist, please). Types of art which will be accepted include but are not limited to: paintings, sketches, mixed-media, and photographs. Pieces should not be larger than 24″ x 30″ and should come...

Shay Hexagon House gifted to Historical Society

Shay Hexagon House gifted to Historical Society

The year 2017 marks the 125th anniversary of the historic Shay Hexagon House located at 396 East Main Street. Ephraim Shay, notable creator of the Shay geared locomotive, built the Hexagon House in 1892 where he lived until his death in 1916. But this year marks another important reason to celebrate this remarkable stamped-steel building. The Harbor Springs Area Historical Society (HSAHS) is excited to announce that it has acquired the historic Shay building from previous owner Mary Cay Bartush Jones. “The Historical Society is honored and humbled by this ultimate gift of history,” said Mary Cummings, executive director of the...

Voices from the Vault

Voices from the Vault

The Historical Society is pleased to announce the opening of our new Voices from the Vault recording space inside the Harbor Springs History Museum. Once this metal and brick vault on the east side of our building kept important records safe for the City of Harbor Springs; now the space has been turned into a recording area to capture and safeguard our community’s stories. (The building’s east vault is visible in the photograph below, taken around 1910). The Voices from the Vault recording space will officially open on Friday, May 26, 2017 during the museum’s regular exhibit hours of 11:00 am...

Myrtle “Myrt” Johnston

Myrtle “Myrt” Johnston

Welcome to the fifth and final installment of our blog series celebrating Women’s History Month. In this blog you can learn more about restaurateur Myrtle “Myrt” Johnston. Myrtle Johnston was born in Cross Village in 1917 to Edna and George Kruzel and was raised there. Later she attented Harbor Springs High School before marrying Samuel Johnston in 1934. Known for her hardworking nature and generous spirit, “Myrt” took on the chores that face the wife of a would-be dairy farmer while earning extra money by working at the Old Trail Inn. Her summer routine was to arrive at 7:00 am to...

Josephine Darling Ford

Josephine Darling Ford

Welcome to the fourth installment of our blog series celebrating Women’s History Month. In this blog you can learn more about Josephine Darling Ford.  The 1960s and early 1970s were a difficult time in Harbor Springs despite its distinction as a summer resort town. In the mid-1970s the charming yet sleepy town was reborn, and Josephine Darling Ford helped foster that rebirth. Born in Harbor Springs in 1911 to Willard S. and Bertha (Stutsman) Darling, Josephine Darling Ford loved her home town and the people in it. She showed that love through service to the community on the school board...

Margaret Blackbird Boyd

Margaret Blackbird Boyd

Welcome to the third installment of our blog series celebrating Women’s History Month. In this blog you can learn more about teacher and Odawa leader Margaret Boyd. Margaret Blackbird Boyd (pictured at right as portrayed by local artist Jane Cardinal) was born in Harbor Springs around 1817. She is best known for her role as an educator and for defending Odawa land rights during the 1870s and 1880s. Margaret grew up in Harbor Springs with her family, including her brother Andrew J. Blackbird, but in her life also ventured away from the Little Traverse Bay. Around 1825, missionaries and local...

Alice Clementina Erwin

Alice Clementina Erwin

Welcome back to the second installment of our blog series celebrating Women’s History Month. In this blog you can learn more about conservationist and author Alice C. Erwin (pictured at right).  Alice Clementina Erwin was born in 1880 in Athens County, Ohio to Albert and Ellen Young. Later in life she married Charles Fayette “Fay” Erwin and lived in Harbor Springs, where she was adopted by the local Odawa tribe in honor of her efforts to protect wildlife, forests and wetlands. Alice passed away at the Petoskey hospital in 1938 and is buried in Lakeview Cemetery in Harbor Springs.  Alice...

Elizabeth Whitney Williams: A Child of the Sea

Elizabeth Whitney Williams: A Child of the Sea

“On the end of the Point stands the lighthouse with its red light flashing out at night over the waters, looking like a great red ruby set with diamonds as the electric lights are shining around the bay and harbor. What more is needed of nature’s beauty to make the picture complete?” Elizabeth Whitney Williams (pictured at right) wrote these words in her autobiography, A Child of the Sea, and Life among the Mormons, about the Little Traverse Lighthouse on Harbor Point, Michigan where she was the keeper for 29 years. Her story, much like the Fresnel lens she describes...

Celebrating Traditions

Celebrating Traditions

Harbor Springs loves its traditions particularly those associated with holidays. In 2015, we celebrated the 100th anniversary of a community Christmas tree placed in town, a tradition started by local contractor George B. Hartung. As a young man, Hartung cut and hauled a Christmas tree into downtown Harbor Springs for the townsfolk to enjoy. Of the first community Christmas tree gathering, the Petoskey Evening News reported in their December 27, 1915 issue that two thousand people were in attendance at the event held on Christmas Eve in Zorn Park. “Ideal weather conditions combined with 100 percent pure Christmas enthusiasm made Harbor Springs’...

Historical Society awarded $25,000 Heritage Grant

Historical Society awarded $25,000 Heritage Grant

We are honored to announce that the Harbor Springs Area Historical Society was recently awarded a $25,000 grant from the Michigan Humanities Council (MHC). MHC awarded nearly $600,000 in grants to 26 Michigan organizations in the first round of funding for the Heritage Grants program. Heritage Grants support projects that bring the authentic voices of cultural identity groups to the foreground and help the people of our state understand cultural differences by sharing local stories about race and cultural history. In Harbor Springs, this means supporting the Historical Society’s next exhibit, Anishnaabeck Art: Gift of the Great Lakes, which is set to...

Collections Corner: Quill boxes

Collections Corner: Quill boxes

In this post we are taking you inside our archives to look at some of the most beautiful artifacts in our collections – small, handmade quill boxes. These unique Native American objects are still made today by the local Odawa people and have a rich cultural tradition that dates back centuries. Quill boxes are constructed using birch bark, sweet grass and porcupine quills. Traditionally, the Odawa used birch bark for making boxes and baskets because its natural antibacterial properties made it perfect for storing food. Porcupine quills were harvested from animals hunted for food. Nowadays they are gathered from animals...

A Day of Giving – #GivingTuesday

A Day of Giving – #GivingTuesday

You’ve survived Black Friday and Cyber Monday and now the Harbor Springs Area Historical Society invites you to join an international movement connecting nonprofits like us to donors like you – it’s #GivingTuesday! The official #GivingTuesday website describes this unique holiday as “a global day dedicated to giving back” when “charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students around the world will come together for one common purpose: to celebrate giving and to give.” This December 2, 2014 is #GivingTuesday and we wanted to take a moment to encourage you to give to the Historical Society on this special day. We’ve partnered with Network...

A Rainy Day at the Little Traverse Lighthouse

A Rainy Day at the Little Traverse Lighthouse

Despite the very wet weather throughout the day Saturday, October 4 the Harbor Springs Area Historical Society’s Little Traverse Lighthouse Tour was a big success. In fact, the cloudy, drizzly weather was actually a perfect teaching moment for Terry Pepper, the Executive Director of the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association. Terry was on hand during the tour and described how the day was a great example of “thick weather,” or weather where early sailors would have needed help from lighthouses and fog signals to navigate. There’s nothing like learning new historical lingo while dashing through a downpour! The Historical Society’s...

Lifelong Learning

Lifelong Learning

Are you a life-long learner? Are you always on the lookout for new opportunities for growth? The Harbor Springs Area Historical Society’s Board of Trustees and staff like to consider ourselves life-long learners. In this spirit we periodically hold training sessions to help us be the best stewards of Harbor Springs’ unique history. Recently, on August 11, the board and staff gathered for one of these sessions led by Pam Evans of the NorthSky Nonprofit Network. The session highlighted new ways for the board and staff to tackle strategic planning, fundraising, educational outreach and more. From our morning session with...

Harbor Springs Students “Learn Local”

Harbor Springs Students “Learn Local”

“History is not just something that happened long ago and far away. History happens to all of us all the time. Local history brings history home, it touches your life, the life of your family, your neighborhood, your community.” –       Thomas J. Noel The Harbor Springs Area Historical Society is thrilled to have been visited by a number of school groups this winter, from second to eighth grade! As the quote above suggests, connecting students to our local history, to their history, engages them in a way that textbooks often don’t. All of us here at the Historical Society are...

A Sweet Service – Volunteer at the Museum

A Sweet Service – Volunteer at the Museum

Although we serve up great local history at our monthly Harbor History talks, we are also well known for our hospitality, specifically homemade goodies. Last month we had a number of requests for this amazing recipe created by one of our wonderful volunteers. These “club cracker cookies” were a hit at our last talk and we wanted to share the recipe with you. Do you have any great recipes you’d like to share? We are always in need of volunteers to make homemade treats for our talks and for other events throughout the year. Our programs and events are always...

Historical Society honored by Emma 25 with lifetime account

Historical Society honored by Emma 25 with lifetime account

The Harbor Springs Area Historical Society is thrilled to announce that we have been granted a lifetime of free email marketing and communications services from Emma, Inc. We were selected as part of the 2013 “Emma 25” program which annually awards charitable organizations free email marketing tools. This year, Emma received hundreds of applications, from every state in the U.S., and we were picked as one of the 100 honorees! To learn more about the Emma 25 program, click on the image below! We urge you to sign up for our email newsletter as we put this free Emma subscription to...

The Harbor Springs Area Historical Society joins Historypin

The Harbor Springs Area Historical Society joins Historypin

Here at the historical society we are always exploring new ways to make the rich history of Harbor Springs more accessible to the public. With this in mind we are proud to announce the launch of our own channel on Historypin! Historypin.com is a website that utilizes Google Maps to allow photographs, videos and other content to be “pinned” to a digital map. Users can search anywhere on the globe and find interesting photographs and stories tacked to specific locales and can add their own material as well. Below is an example of how amazing this site really is. Shown...

The Harbor Springs History Museum Turns 5!

December was an important month for the Harbor Springs Area Historical Society and for the Harbor Springs History Museum which celebrated its fifth birthday on December 7! An open house was held in celebration of this special day with a chance for visitors to see both the permanent and temporary exhibits downstairs and Christmas crafts and refreshments upstairs. Over one hundred guests attended the open house and helped us end 2013 on a high note. In preparation for the open house, several new elements were installed in the permanent exhibit gallery. Dick Babcock volunteered his time to install two large...

Local World War

With the new year comes a new exhibit! The temporary exhibit case on the 2nd floor has been changed out and an exhibit of local artifacts and letters from both World Wars have been put on display. These include ration stamps and tokens, letters, and articles that pertain to our local area during World War I and World War II. We also have our first Harbor History Talk of 2013 this week. Join local resident, artist and author Jane Cardinal as she delves into the history of the Good Hart area and its transition to a resort community. Cardinal recently...

Winter is Here!

  Winter is here! The snow may have left us for a little while, but anyone can tell you that it will surely be back! It’s hard to imagine how people coped without snowplows and snowblowers but somehow they did. I imagine that there were some hardworking horses before automobiles and tractors became more common in the snow removal industry. Our Holiday Open House is taking place on Saturday, December 29 from 11:00am to 3:00pm. The 20 man bobsled pictured above will be out and we will be showing a slide show of other historic winter photos from Harbor Springs...

Past and Present

One of the most fascinating things about going through older photographs of Harbor Springs are the glimpses of the past that they bring. You can recognize buildings and places in these old photographs and see how they were 100 years ago. Often as a child, I would look at the world around me and wonder how it looked in the past, without paved roads, cars, or houses. What activities went on in these familiar places that I knew nothing about? This is the reason that photographs of recognizable places are so exciting to me, it shows how they looked in...

Temporary Election Exhibit

Hello everyone! My name is Talia and I have been working as an archivist and collections manager at the Harbor Springs Area Historical Society since June. I grew up in Harbor Springs but I have never been so aware of the history of the town as I have been going through the archives. There are so many great things here on a large array of subjects that I can’t wait to show them all to the town! Recently, in honor of the upcoming presidential election in November, I gathered together interesting items from the archive on the subject of older...

Warming up to Winter

  At a recent gathering of historical society and museum folk, our group facilitator started off our meeting by asking us to introduce ourselves, our organizations and, as an icebreaker of sorts, tell what we like most about living in northern Michigan in January. My answer was simple. I like January because, slowly but surely, the days are getting longer. Those who know me well know that winter generally takes fourth place in my favorite season rankings. January ranks equally low amongst my favorite months. But in this new year, something was different about January.  

Celebrating 20 Years of HSAHS History!

That’s right, the Harbor Springs Area Historical Society is turning 20. Can you believe it? The date was March 6, 1990, when founders Marge May, David deWindt, Linda Rosenow, Jan Morley, Nancy Morton, Nancy Gurney and Arthur Barnes had their first official meeting.

A Happy New Year Indeed!

Last month, the Harbor Springs Area Historical Society learned that we are the recipients of a 2009 Award of Excellence given by the Builders Exchange of Northwest Michigan in Traverse City. Our museum project was nominated by Spence Brothers, the general contractor for the renovation that was completed in December 2008.