Berrien County:
Our Storied Past

Welcome to Berrien County: Our Storied Past!  The amazing photos in our permanent exhibit intro display are a mix of images from our collections and those donated by the public.  To learn more about the stories behind the photos, check out each of the photos below!  These blurbs are reposted as they were sent to us.  We only edited typos or misspellings as needed.

Red Hen Turf Farm

Donated by: Linda Keigley

(as told by Victor Keigley)

 

I decided to get into the sod business after visiting one in Chicago.  In 1956, we purchased land in Berrien Springs south of the bridge. Owners were myself, Harold Hetler and Ronald Keigley.  Early on we worked long days, Saturdays and Sundays, while Harold and I held other jobs; Ron being the only full time employee.  After a dormant seeding in late 1956, our first crop was ready the following summer.  Harold and I became full time employees in 1958 and 1960, respectively.   In 1964 the Village needed our land so we sold, moving our farm to New Carlisle where we operated until selling to the Millar Family in 1983.

Andrews University Grand Opening Parade

Donated by: Madeline Johnson

On June 2, 2008, Andrews University in Berrien Springs celebrated the grand opening of its new entrance.  Some vehicles from years past paraded down the J.N. Andrews Boulevard and are here seen returning from the new gatehouse towards the entrance and old Highway 31.

Downtown St. Joseph Art Walk 2008: Boats

Donated by: Madeline Johnson

The sidewalks of St. Joseph brighten up each summer with the sculptures provided by many area artists to represent various stores, schools, and other entities in the county.  In 2008 the theme was boats.  This is just one of the many vessels riding the concrete that year.

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Berrien Springs in Bloom

Donated by: Madeline Johnson

The annual iris display in the garden of Ray and Ruth Roberts on Kephart lane has become an historic event.  With over 100 varieties, the garden is open to the public each year with a sign at the end of the long driveway to direct people.  This is just one shot, taken in 2008, to represent this beautiful display.

Pioneer Memorial Church, Andrews University

Donated by: Madeline Johnson

A part of Berrien County history now for many years is Pioneer Memorial Church on the campus of Andrews University in Berrien Springs.  With a membership of approximately 3,500, it also serves university students from around the world whose membership may remain in some remote church back home.  Through Neighbor to Neighbor and many other outreach programs, it helps residents in our area who have experienced flood, fire, tornado, or other personal losses.   Occasionally it also offers organ concerts, as it houses one of the best pipe organs in the country.

Autumn in Berrien County

Donated by: Madeline Johnson

Autumn in Berrien County produces many colorful displays that grab our attention each year. In November 2020 I happened upon a yard in Berrien Center that was covered in the beautiful fan-shaped leaves of the gingko tree.  I couldn’t resist stopping to take a few pictures.  Autumn colors are a real part of our history here, because they go back a very long time, and yet they are also current, as they continue to enrich our lives anew each year.

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Windmill in Berrien County

From the BCHA Collections

Not much is known about this photo – when it was taken, where the farm is located, etc.  However, the staff fell in love with the photo and sought a way to include into the exhibit as a representation of the county’s long agricultural history.

If you happen to know more about this photo, please contact us at info@berrienhistory.org!

St. Joseph Lighthouse

Donated by: Madeline Johnson

Our old St. Joseph lighthouse on the coast of Lake Michigan is popular with nearly every resident of Berrien County.  It has seen several changes and restorations over the years, but it is an important part  of our history.  It has withstood battering storms.  It has watched over the rescue of countless individuals in the water or on boats.  It has guided numerous vessels into the harbor.  In recent summers it has afforded visits to guests, who enjoy climbing the circular stairway inside to gain access to the view from the light.

Berrien Springs Water Treatment Plant

Donated by: Madeline Johnson

In June of 2008, the public enjoyed an open-house reception and tours of the brand-new water-treatment plant in Berrien Springs.  It was enlightening to learn how much effort goes into providing all of us with safe, clean water.

My Storied Past

Donated by: Barbara and Norman Bauer

In 1946, Studebaker Corp. moved Reinhart Bauer from Chicago to South Bend.  He had to find suitable new home for his multi-generational family.  The Bauers found that home and the satisfying “country” life near Berrien Center, Michigan.  Sons Norman, Wayne, and Charles benefited from youth development in Trinity Lutheran Church and Berrien Springs schools.  Opportunities and skills learned “by doing” with the Bruce family, in 4-H and Berrien County Youth Fair were invaluable!  Experience in 4-H and the fair’s woodworking and livestock projects (including Norm’s first steer) remain irreplaceable!  Berrien County’s life lessons and enduring friendships are priceless.

Ted Cassidy Comes to Berrien Springs

Donated by: Suzanne Levy

Throughout the 1960s, the Blossomtime Festival parade attracted famous Grand Marshalls, including actor Ted Cassidy.  Best known for his role as Lurch on the show The Addams Family, Cassidy was co-marshall with then-governor George Romney.  The Herald-Press noted that Cassidy was replacing Ernest Borgnine who was called away to a movie set in Europe.

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Dale Chihuly Comes to Southwest Michigan

Donated by: Madeline Johnson

In 2005, the Kalamazoo Institute of Art held an exhibit of the beautiful glass work of renown Dale Chihuly.  Along with various elegant bowls and vases were these typical Chihuly peices.

Historic Sutherland House

Donated by: Madeline Johnson

The historic Sutherland House on the campus of Andrews University in Berrien Springs was originally the home of the first president of the university, E. A. Sutherland.  This picture was taken in 2006 after a major campaign had resulted in its restoration in a corner of the campus.  For a few years it served as the home of the Institute of World Mission.  Today it houses the offices of Andrews University Press.

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Old Rugged Cross

Donated by: Madeline Johnson

The entrance to the historic Old Rugged Cross Church in 2006 during its restoration process.  Located in Pokagon, MI, it is the church where the beloved hymn of the same name was first sung in 1913.  Area residents came together to salvage it and fund the restoration to its original glory. Today it is white, gleaming in the sun, with a lovely garden in back, and with occasional hymn sings and other events for any who wish to come.

Melendez Imports

Donated by: Madeline Johnson

In 2007 Melendez Imports stood on Ferry Street in Berrien Springs, welcoming people to buy all sorts of things from south of our borders.  It later moved to larger quarters.

BCHA NOTE: Today they are known a Melendez Restaurant, which houses the import store as well.

Oriental & International Food & Gifts

Donated by: Madeline Johnson

Run by a Korean family, this oriental supermarket on Ferry Street in Berrien Springs was a favorite resource of the large Korean community in this area, but also for other Asians and anyone who enjoyed Asian food.  This picture was taken in 2007.

Schug Drug

Donated by: Madeline Johnson

At the corner of South Main and Ferry in Berrien Springs, Schug Drug served the community for decades.  Eventually it yielded to the bigger conglomerates, but many residents fondly recall the friendly services, personal care, and variety of items available there besides medicines.

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Warren Dunes State Park

Donated by: Warren Dunes State Park

First donated for the 2020 exhibit, A Walk in the Park, this picture from the 1960s show a family enjoying the relatively new Warren Dunes State Park.  This family is unknown and if you have any information on who they are, please contact us at info@berrienhistory.org!

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Curiosity

Donated by: Love Creek County Park

First donated for the 2020 exhibit, A Walk in the Park, this picture from the early 1990s shows a young guests peering into a turtle tank at the nature center.  The 200 acre park has served residents for several decades and continues to host programs and events around the bountiful  nature of the park.

Michigan at Convention

Counting Our Votes

Donated by: The Heritage Museum and Cultural Center, St. Joseph

This photo was first donated for the To the Polls: Elections in Southwest Michigan exhibit in late 2020.  Taken at the Republican National Convention, it is unknown what year it was taken, although based on the fashion, it could be 1964 or 1968.

This was part of a large collection of political memorabilia from the collection of Monty Shephard, who was a major player in local and national politics.

Silver Beach Amusement Park

From the BCHA Collections

Taken sometime in the 1950s, the Silver Bullet (foreground) and the Comet (background) were two of the many popular rides of the now-defunct Silver Beach Amusement Park in St. Joseph.  Located on the water, generations enjoyed rides, games, and more along the shores of Lake Michigan.

The Move to a New Home

From the BCHA Collections

From 1916 to 1966, the 1839 Courthouse was home to the village’s Seventh-day Adventist church.  Despite various expansions and renovations, the congregation outgrew the space by the early 1960s.  The ground was broken in 1964 for the new building just short way down the road on former orchard land.  On May 21, 1966, the 471 members walked from the old building to the new for the first time.

 

This photo shows some of the members of the procession.  We don’t have identities for those in the photo.  If you know who anyone is, please email us at info@berrienhistory.org!

Strike a Pose

From the BCHA Collections

This photo of the Coloma High School football team in the 1920s show the youthful swagger that is common across all generations.  We have no names for these young men.  If you know who anyone is, please email us at info@berrienhistory.org!

A Sunny Day

From the BCHA Collections

This photo was taken on September 5, 1905 on Poundstone Street.  It not 100% certain which direction the photo was taken, but the shot shows how busy the twin cities were.  In the photo you can note casual visitors and businesses hauling around goods.

Take a pose

From the BCHA Collections

We don’t know who this lovely woman is, but she is posing next to the locally famous Maids of the Mist fountain.  The Whitcomb Hotel can be seen in the background.

The fountain was part of the World’s Fair in Chicago and upon the end of the fair, the fountain was moved to St. Joseph’s bluff in 1892.

If you know who this woman is, please email us at info@berrienhistory.org!

Shopping Trip

From the BCHA Collections

This photo comes from a series pictures of Pipestone Street showing shoppers on a busy day sometime in the 1930s to early 1940s.  The fashion of the photos is what attracted the staff’s eye and while another version is found elsewhere in the Courthouse, we brought these ladies to the permanent exhibit.  As with many of our photos, we have no idea who they were.

If you know who these women are, please email us at info@berrienhistory.org!