Beaver Island Historical Society Welcomes You to Our Past

The Beaver Island Historical Society was founded in 1957 to collect and share the fascinating history of Beaver Island. A remote island in Lake Michigan, it has witnessed many interesting and unique historical events, and has been home to various groups including Native Americans, a Mormon branch known as the Strangites, Irish immigrants, fisherman, lumberjacks, and many more.

King Strang

King Strang

The Historical Society currently operates two museums on the Island, the Print Shop Museum and the Marine Museum, as well as two additional historical sites: Heritage Park and the Protar Home. We offer several resources and services to our visitors, including genealogical research, copies of archival photos, and a series of historical journals and other books for purchase. Additionally, we host many events throughout the year to promote the Island’s history.

Explore our history, find out about the king, fishing, shipwrecks, island life, natural history, our Irish heritage, and much more.

For an overview of Beaver Island History please visit: http://www.beaverisland.net/beaver-island-history

Museum Hours

The Print Shop is closed until May.
The Marine Museum can be toured until Nov 15 by appointment.
In the spring: May 1 - June 20 by appointment.
Museums will open for regular hours on June 21, 2020 through September 30, 2020.

Please call 231.448.2254 for more information.

Self Guided Walking Tour

View or download the map

Construction Update

Mormon Print Shop ConstructionThe Board of Trustees is pleased to announce that a legacy benefactor, George Bisbee of Jackson MI, provided the Society just over $500,000, which will be used for financing the Print Shop Addition, including some of the exhibits. The Board is also grateful to the many Island benefactors who have supported the expansion concept and contributed to the capital campaign already and to those future benefactors who will continue to support the Society in fulfilling the vision to share the unique historical stories of the Archipelago through the renovated and expanded museum.

Architectural services are being provided pro-bono by Ebersoldt + Associates Architects, and its owner, Vince Ebersoldt, a long-time Island visitor, Island property owner and benefactor, as well as a BIHS Trustee. The Board of Trustees are extremely grateful to Vince and his team for the work they are doing on behalf of the Society, helping to keep Island History Alive!
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From Our Facebook Page

View the most recent updates at https://www.facebook.com/BeaverIslandHistoricalSociety/

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We're happy to share that the 1960, 1961, and 1962 Beaver Beacons have been uploaded to the BIHS website, linked in the first comment below. Three full years of nostalgic news and views from the isle's past for your reading pleasure. Thanks again to Kathleen Belfy Antkoviak for volunteering her time to digitize each page of these old gems for public access.

And a reminder to those who enjoy these offerings that BIHS welcomes your donations or membership to help us continue offering these vital pieces of Beaver Island history. For more on that option, see the link in the second comment below. Wishing everyone a beautiful December !
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Were happy to share that the 1960, 1961, and 1962 Beaver Beacons have been uploaded to the BIHS website, linked in the first comment below. Three full years of nostalgic news and views from the isles past for your reading pleasure. Thanks again to Kathleen Belfy Antkoviak for volunteering her time to digitize each page of these old gems for public access. 

And a reminder to those who enjoy these offerings that BIHS welcomes your donations or membership to help us continue offering these vital pieces of Beaver Island history. For more on that option, see the link in the second comment below. Wishing everyone a beautiful December !

Comment on Facebook

Dale Fisher

I remember drawing the candles and greeting on the bottom for the mimeograph machine.

Someday I hope to see the early 70’s poem my dad wrote for Martha and her friends who got lost while picking black berries. Titled “Oed to a Burnt Wig”. The copy at his place has been gone for years.

I don't know what year but worked putting the beacon together. How the times have changed

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Happy Thanksgiving, everyone... ... See MoreSee Less

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone...

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stunning

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!

So beautiful !! Thank You God!

Same to you, beautiful Beaver island.

nice pic'.....Happy Thanksgiving yo you

Happy Thanksgiving to all my cousins, friends and Beaver Island people!

Beautiful

Beautiful!

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Circa 1914, an Edward L. Beebe postcard, "Street View, St. James, Mich". Note the plank sidewalk running in front of the buildings on the right. Far right is what was later called 'The Old Shillelagh', since torn down; further up is the former Vernon LaFreniere store, now the site of the BI Community Center; and just past that, what is now the Beachcomber Bar. ... See MoreSee Less

Circa 1914, an Edward L. Beebe postcard, Street View, St. James, Mich. Note the plank sidewalk running in front of the buildings on the right. Far right is what was later called The Old Shillelagh, since torn down; further up is the former Vernon LaFreniere store, now the site of the BI Community Center; and just past that, what is now the Beachcomber Bar.

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I wonder how many cars/trucks were on the island at that time?

It looks like mountains in the distance. I know there are no mountains in the distance.

My dad tore down the Shilleleigh in 1963. The cable of our wich truck was put around the building and hooked back to itself causing the building to "implode." That's when he acquired our first bulldozer.

As construction progresses on the Print Shop addition, our Fall Membership Drive continues as well. In addition to the major project pictured below, the Beaver Island Historical Society is also working on the restoration of the classic Zoltan Sepeshy mural; planning for new exhibits; mapping out next year's Museum Week and popular Picnic at the Point weekly lecture series; digitizing decades of Beaver Beacons for public access on the BIHS website; sharing historic images and stories via our digital platforms; and much more. We're looking forward to a very exciting 2020 season.

If some or all of these vital offerings find value with you, please consider becoming a new member, renewing your existing membership, or making a donation by clicking on the link in the comments below. With your help the Beaver Island Historical Society can continue to share our unique history and local character with our community, thousands of tourists who visit the Island every year, and the many who engage remotely through our online presence.

Our membership year runs from January 1 to December 31. Membership benefits include: a 10% discount on gift shop items, 20% discount on genealogy research, complimentary copy of George Anthony's essential book on the archipelago's native history 'The Elders Speak', and an invitation to a members-only special gathering. We thank you in advance for your generous support !

(Photos courtesy of Kathleen Belfy Antkoviak)
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Looking good!

Good pictures KayKay❤️

- A Progress Update on the Sepeshy Mural Restoration Project -

This past weekend of November 15-17, BIHS Director Lori Taylor-Blitz visited the Cranbrook Academy of Art's Center for Collections and Research in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan to take part in 'A Day Away' -- the latest in a series of guided bus and walking tours sponsored by the Center which explore Cranbrook's off-campus cultural connections. The Fall 2019 tour, which doubled as a fundraiser for the Center, focused on four New Deal-Era murals originally created and installed in the Detroit area. Chief tour guide for participating art enthusiasts was Greg Wittkopp, Director of Cranbrook's Collections and Research center and Beaver Island summer resident.

The first mural visited on-site was BIHS's own Zoltan Sepeshy masterpiece, the 5' x 13' 'Hauling in the Net', currently undergoing complete restoration in the lab of art conservator Kenneth Katz of Detroit's Museum & Conservation Services. There, Katz illuminated for the tour group the meticulous conservation process taking place on the 1940 egg tempera painting, where work has begun in an area on the far right side of the artwork.

After a possible return visit to the conservation lab by Lori Taylor-Blitz in January of 2020, BIHS plans to offer a similar art tour and project fundraiser this coming spring, beginning in Ann Arbor and including a stop at Katz's conservation laboratory. The tentative dedication date for the completed mural's installation in the new Print Shop addition is July 15, 2020. Plans are being made for a special Museum Week program devoted to the history of the mural's creation, donation to BIHS, and conservation effort. Planning to attend next summer's dedication on the island are Collections and Research Center Director Greg Wittkopp, art conservator Ken Katz, and Jeff Day, curator of the Lincoln Park Historical Society and Museum.

In a satisfying full-circle historic note, the Lincoln Park Historical Society and Museum - based in the former Lincoln Park, Michigan Post Office for which the painting was originally created - plans to install a full-color, full-sized, high-resolution digital replica of the Sepeshy mural on the same wall of the lobby where it first came to live almost 80 years ago. That image will be created after the painting's restoration is finished and before its return to Beaver Island.

The photographs below show, Top, then L-R:

Zoltan Sepeshy in his studio with a sketch for the Lincoln Park Post Office Mural, May 10, 1940. (Courtesy Cranbrook Archives, Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research);

Museum & Conservation Services founder Ken Katz, giving a talk on the restoration project to tour participants in his Detroit lab;

A wide-angle view of the mural separated into it's two original panels in Katz's lab;

A closer view of the mural in the lab, where restoration work has begun on the right side of the painting - most noticeably, the extended left arm of the fisherman;

And the west wall of the lobby in the former Lincoln Park Post Office, now the Lincoln Park Historical Society and Museum. Above this entrance to the former Postmaster’s office is where the Sepeshy mural was first hung, and where a digital photographic reproduction of the restored painting will eventually be installed. (Last four photos courtesy of Lori Taylor-Blitz)
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Such a wonderful project!

In this comment space and the one below, a comparison of a mural area pre-restoration:

- And after restoration.

Beautiful restoration work. An amazing mural. Must go see when installed. Thank you for sharing Jackson

So excited to see the “finished” painting and for the unveiling in July. So glad Lori got to see the process thus far!!!

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Photography by Frank Solle / Stillpoint Photography