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 tour of the Little Traverse Lighthouse sold out almost a month ago and we were thrilled to welcome over 300 guests to tour the lighthouse. The Harbor Point Association generously allows the Historical Society to do these tours and we are extremely grateful to be able to take people through the building and to show off all the hard work the association's Lighthouse Committee has put into the site. We would also like to thank our sponsors who helped make this tour possible: Abent Pest Control, Gurney's Bottle Shop, Lauer Pest Control, Stafford's Hospitality, Tom's Mom's Cookies, Harbor Springs IGA and the Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau. 

Enjoy some snapshots of the event below. Be sure to sign up for our email newsletter to be the first to hear about other events and programs at the Historical Society. 

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Above left: Docent Tim Tippett and guest Delyte DeLong in their rain gear. Delyte was a resident of the lighthouse in the late 1950s when her then husband Norm Ruessman was stationed there. 

Above middle: The fog signal building and the Little Traverse Lighthouse.

Above right: A bus full of Lighthouse Tour volunteers. Between room monitors, docents, registration desk workers and more we had over 180 hours of volunteer time donated to this event. We couldn't have done it without our amazing volunteers! Thank you.

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Above left: When the lighthouse was decommissioned by the U.S. Coast Guard in 1963 the government sold the house back to the Harbor Point Association. The government then bought a smaller chunk of land near the lighthouse and erected this metal frame and light to replace the lighthouse.

Above center: This oil house was reconstructed on the original foundation in 2011. It was originally used to house the flammable kerosene needed to light the lamp in the tower.

Above right: Beautiful green shutters on the lighthouse.

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 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 Pam, we identified a short list of action items that the board will tackle when we’re back at the board table next week.

We were able to bring Pam to work with our board through funding from the Petoskey-Harbor Springs Area Community Foundation. With their support, we continue to grow as an organization and look forward to putting our new knowledge to work.



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"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 stewards of the history of this community and sharing that with local kids is an important part of our mission. We wanted to share a few moments from these school visits with you.

We have worked most closely with the fourth grade classes from Shay Elementary. Back in March they toured the museum and were given a special history lesson about inventor Ephraim Shay from Mr. Shay himself (portrayed by our costumed actor). The kids loved meeting Mr. Shay and bombarded him with all sorts of questions about his work on geared locomotives and about his time in Harbor Springs. The students then walked down to Mr. Shay's house, the Hexagon House, and got a tour of the building. 

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The fourth grade classes were also treated to a special tour of the LIttle Traverse Lighthouse on Harbor Point. Not only did the students get to explore the lighthouse and its grounds but they also learned what life was like around 1900, exploring novel concepts like outdoor bathrooms and oil lamps.

As the fog rolled in off the harbor, the children got to see first hand how important the lighthouse and fog bell were for navigating ships. They also learned more about keeper Elizabeth Whitney Williams (portrayed by HSAHS staff member Beth Sylak) who was on hand to answer questions like "why are your sleeves so puffy?" and talk about William's life as a female lighthouse keeper. Despite a sudden downpour, the students had a great time. Thanks again to our dedicated volunteers and to the Harbor Point Association for making this local learning experience possible.

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Most recently, the second grade classes from Blackbird elementary toured the museum. Our invaluable volunteers Jan McDonald and Linda Leavitt led the students through our Local History and Discovery galleries at the museum. Shortly after their visit the students sent thank you notes and pictures to us at the museum, and we couldn't resist sharing some. Their notes are part of what makes giving these tours so worthwhile. 

David Letter             Fishing Picture 


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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 sweeter with your help! Volunteer your baking skills today by calling us at (231) 526-9771 and we’ll happily add you to our “cookie list.”


48 club crackers, lined in a jellyroll pan
sliced almonds
1 cup of butter
2/3 cup of sugar

Boil the sugar and butter together for 3 minutes. Pour over the crackers and sprinkle them with almonds – as many as you like. Bake for 5 minutes at 300 degrees then broil for1 minute more, watching carefully. Remove from pan and separate while warm. 

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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!

Emma 25

We urge you to sign up for our email newsletter as we put this free Emma subscription to use! Our eNewsletter will keep you updated on all the latest events, programs and more going on at the Harbor Springs Area Historical Society and is a great way to see what is happening in your community. 

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Business Hours

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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