PENTWATER, Mich. (AP) - "This is quite an auspicious day for us," Ed Bigelow, museum director of the Pentwater Historical Society, said Saturday morning during a ceremony marking the opening of a new Pentwater museum in a renovated former church.
"This is the realization of a dream come true," he said as reported by the Ludington Daily News (http://bit.ly/1km5FwN )
He told village residents and guests that they were in for a treat once the ribbon was cut and the doors opened to the public after the ceremony.
Whereas the old museum, in the basement beneath the village and township offices downtown, was only 400 square feet in size, the former Pentwater First Baptist Church building was about 3,000 square feet.
More importantly, Bigelow said, after months of renovation by volunteers and contractors, and months of planning, he said the most common reaction by those who got a sneak peek was "Wow!."
He promised the audience, they, too, would go "wow" when they go in the building.
He'd prove prophetic.
Bigelow, who acted as master of ceremonies for the ribbon cutting ceremony, noted more than 60 people volunteered "time, talent and skills" over the past 11 months to renovate the building made available when the church moved to a new building kitty-corner to its home of 131 years.
Several others spoke following music from the Pentwater Jazz Band, a presentation of an American flag, eagle standard and base to the historical society for the museum from the Pentwater VFW Post 6017, and invocation from Pastor Mark Lille who prayed for many good years for the museum in the building to tell "the incredible history" and what God has done.
Sen. Goeff Hansen, R-Hart, said, "Today, and for many years to come people will take in the rich history of Pentwater" at the new museum. "They will learn the people of Pentwater always take great pride in their community."
Rep. Jon Bumstead, R-Newaygo, rode to the village on his motorcycle to also take part in a "bikes and trikes" event downtown.
He called Bigelow "kind of the driving force" to making the museum happen. "You need someone to do that," he said.
"It's a beautiful facility," Bumstead said. "Let's make it work. Let's appreciate it."
Dr. Bill Anderson wasn't on the agenda, but when Bigelow saw the former director of the Michigan Department of History, Arts and Library in the audience, he praised Anderson for sharing wisdom about what a museum needs to be. "I think we've done that," Bigelow said. Interactive aspects "to get the young people involved in our community" will be added as the museum moves forward, he said, and he asked Anderson to say a few words.
"You're really doing something special by utilizing the church in a historic way," Anderson said.
A museum that has authenticity, as the new Pentwater museum has with the building having been in the village for 131 years, is far more interesting and engaging than a modern building full of replicas, he said.
He praised the spirit he's seen in Pentwater.
"I can't think of any place that, when they have a vision, they put it together so quickly," Anderson said. "I'm not surprised it happened in Pentwater. The leadership in Pentwater made it happen. You are in a great community populated by great people. Congratulations."
The keynote address was given by Pentwater Schools Superintendent Mary Marshall.
"Our village is filled with stories of families who came to this beautiful place."
"Remembering and discovering is what this museum is all about," she said.
It's a place, she said, people can take a break to remember, to walk, to gain perspective.
"Take the time to remember," she advised. "This museum provides a powerful opportunity to do that. My dad would have loved this place."
Information from: Ludington Daily News, http://www.ludingtondailynews.com