2017 HSAHS presidents Tippett White

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 brings over 42 years of banking experience with Comerica Bank holding executive leadership positions in Detroit, Chicago, and, most recently, California.

“It’s my honor to be part of the Historical Society,” White said. “This organization has established itself as an essential part of the fabric of Harbor Springs. We have a unique opportunity to continue our service to the community with the Shay House.”

Joining White on the society’s board are vice president Tom Graham, secretary Jan McDonald, treasurer Dave Roche and trustees Amelie Dawson, John Fergus-Jean, Tim Jardine, Molly Jones, Jordan Karlis, David Lyle, Mary Beth Masimore, Vince Mihalik and George Tippett. Together with Historical Society staff, the board has embarked on a strategic planning process that includes preservation of the Shay Hexagon House and long-term goals for the organization to best serve the community at large.

Tim Tippett (left) turns over the gavel to current board president
David White in the museum’s Local History Gallery. 

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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 ShareThis 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 ready to hang. 

Submissions must relate specifically to the Harbor Springs area, and artist applications are due by March 1, 2018. Detailed submission guidelines and applications are available at the Harbor Springs History Museum, 349 E Main Street or online here. The show will include cash prizes for first, second and third places.

The Shay Hexagon House, recently gifted to the Historical Society by previous owner, the late Mary Cay Jones, will serve as the exhibit’s home. Ephraim Shay, the inventor of the Shay geared locomotive, built the Hexagon House in 1892 and lived there until his death in 1916. The Historical Society is pleased to open this storied building to the community as a place where the memories and stories help celebrate the rich history of the Harbor Springs area.

For more information, please contact the Harbor Springs Area Historical Society at (231) 526-9771 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Tanya Graham loan

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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.

HSAHS ShayHouse 2017 MC WEB

“The Historical Society is honored and humbled by this ultimate gift of history,” said Mary Cummings, executive director of the Historical Society. “Mary Cay Jones has entrusted us with this historic treasure, and we will continue to steward the building as she has done during her 30-year ownership.”

The Shay Hexagon House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was renovated in 1990 just after Jones first acquired the building. The outright gift of the building to the Historical Society has sparked its board of trustees to look toward the future, both for the historic structure and for the organization as a whole, now in its 27th year.

“The Historical Society has a wonderful opportunity with the Shay House,” according to Tim Tippett, current HSAHS board president. “We plan to explore potential uses for the building that both strongly align with the Historical Society’s mission as well as serve and benefit our entire community. We thank Mary Cay for recognizing the Historical Society with this generous gift.”

The 14-member board of trustees has already embarked on a strategic planning process that includes the Shay Hexagon House and is currently exploring a future comprehensive campaign to complete needed renovations to the Shay House with an endowment component to be able to maintain both it and the museum building for generations.  At the heart of the Historical Society is its mission to connect learning about the past with appreciating the present by preserving our histories and traditions.

For more information about the Historical Society, please call (231) 526-9771.

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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).

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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 to 3:00 pm. The community is encouraged to stop by to view the new space, which will remain a permanent part of our exhibits after its opening. 

The idea for the recording space came to Historical Society staff members after interactions with museum visitors kept uncovering great stories; stories that unfortunately vanished as soon as the visitors left. 

“We feel that it’s an important part of our mission to find a way to chronicle and preserve these treasured memories and stories from our visitors,” said Mary Cummings, Executive Director of the Historical Society. “Reclaiming the unused vault area inside the temporary exhibit gallery seemed like the perfect opportunity to do so.”  

The Voices from the Vault space will provide a dedicated area for both impromptu recordings from museum visitors as well as traditional oral history interviews. We hope the community will take advantage of this unique space and are happy to answer questions or provide more information to interested individuals. Call (231) 526-9771 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to learn more. 

vault

Voices from the Vault was made possible in part through the generous support of the
Ayrshire Foundation and the Petoskey-Harbor Springs Area Community Foundation. 

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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.johnston myrt

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 bake pies, cook breakfast, then lunch and dinner, returning home at 9:00 pm.

Myrt is best known for her years running Johnston’s Restaurant at State and Bay streets. She took over the restaurant from her brother-in-law Roy and ran the store for 17 years. The restaurant and especially her presence there made Johnston’s a fixture in downtown. Generations of Harbor Springs residents, both year-round and summer, will long remember Myrt for her hospitality and homemade cooking as well as for her fiesty temper and generous heart.

Myrt passed away in 2012 at age 94.

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Business Hours

Tuesday-Friday
9:00 am to 5:00 pm

Exhibit Hours

Friday and Saturday
11:00 am to 3:00 pm

Museum Address

349 E. Main Street
    Harbor Springs, MI 49740

(231) 526-9771

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