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Posts from the ‘Holland History’ Category

The Windmill Story Part 2

Last week I proudly reported that the De Zwaan Windmill is the only authentic Dutch-built working windmill in the United States. And it’s right here in Holland Michigan!

Snips from the Holland Sentinel told the story of how one man’s desire to bring a windmill to Michigan from the Netherlands was shared by the Holland City Council, the Tulip Time Board of Directors, and local businessmen.

How would they bring this idea to fruition?

Brigitte Werner on Pixabay windmill-3901896_640

Let’s return to the Holland Sentinel:

Wednesday May 16, 1962; “Because of its name and its close association with the motherland, Holland was chosen by the Netherlands government in 1942 as the location for its midwestern office of the Netherlands Information Service…” “Since its inception, the NIS office has operated in City Hall with Willard C. Wichers as its director.” “Wichers latest assignment (this time from Holland city) is a visit to the Netherlands to attempt to get an authentic windmill for Holland, Mich. This assignment is all the more difficult since Dutch windmills have been declared national monuments to reduce its number of popular landmarks.”

Wednesday June 6, 1962; “Willard C. Wichers will present a report on Project Windmill [to the Holland City Council] regarding Holland’s efforts to obtain a windmill from the Netherlands for this city. Wichers recently spent two weeks in the Netherlands working on the project.”

Thursday June 7, 1962; “Following a review of Project Windmill developments by Willard C. Wichers, who recently returned from the Netherlands, City Council Wednesday night voted unanimously to extend an invitation to A. J. de Koning, technical advisor to the Foundation of Netherlands Windmills, to visit Holland, Mich., to advise and consult with the mayor’s committee regarding site and construction of an authentic windmill here. Costs of the project have not been determined, although Wichers said Dutch officials tentatively put a price tag of 100,000 guilders ($28,000) on such a restoration project.” “Despite earlier discouragements because all Dutch windmills are national monuments, Wichers emerged with the encouraging report that this city probably would obtain one of the last two mills to leave the homeland.”

Thursday July 5, 1962; “A community barbeque with a new twist was being planned today by the Holland Jaycees. Besides being merely delicious and entertaining, the Jaycee-sponsored “Project Windmill” Barbeque, slated for July 24 in the Civic Center parking lot, will be primarily informative. Jaycees say the object of their “Project Windmill” Barbeque is to inform Holland residents of “Project Windmill” and to allow residents to meet A. J. de Koning, an authority on windmills from The Netherlands.”

Monday July 9, 1962; “Plans are progressing for the Junior Chamber of Commerce sponsored chicken barbeque for Project Windmill at Civic Center July 24. Purpose of the community event is to welcome A. J. de Koning, noted Dutch authority on windmills, who is coming to Holland to study possible locations for an authentic Dutch mill which, it is expected, will be moved here from The Netherlands. De Koning, who will spend two weeks in Holland, will be on hand to answer questions on windmills. Motion pictures and slides on famous Dutch mills will be shown inside Civic Center.”

Can you sense the heightened anticipation around Mr. de Koning’s pending arrival?

Stay tuned to see what happens during the two weeks he visited Holland!

The Windmill Story Part 1

The De Zwaan Windmill in Holland Michigan is the only authentic Dutch-built working windmill in the United States.

How did such an historic icon come to travel across the ocean and make its home in a Midwestern beachtown?988dc9319c608992cbd47ef28947224d

It may surprise you to learn that the De Zwaan didn’t arrive in Holland until the nineteen sixties; more than 100 years after the community was established by Dutch settlers.

After the first group of Holland’s Dutch forefathers immigrated in 1847, towns-people built windmills for practical reasons; sawmills, flour mills, and pump mills for example.

Fast forward to 1928 when biology teacher Lida Rogers suggested Holland adopt the tulip as the flower. She further proposed hosting a Tulip Time Festival in May when these cheerful flowers bloom. After it’s initial successful debut, Tulip Time Festival became an annual event. A replica windmill was built as a feature in the city’s tulip garden.

Decades later, Carter P. Brown, a local resort [Castle Park] owner, proposed the idea of acquiring an authentic working windmill to reinforce Holland’s Dutch heritage.


Snips from the Holland Sentinel tell the unfolding story:

Wednesday, September 20, 1961; Tulip Time Board of Directors received “a letter from Carter Brown of The Castle [which] outlined suggestions for providing a setting of canals and a windmill for klompen dancing along with bleachers.”

Wednesday October 4, 1961; “Brown said he would like to see an authentic Dutch windmill, preferably one that operated and maybe even ground grain.” “He expressed the hope that the Dutch government would be interested to the point it would consider dismantling one of its jealously guarded old mills and transfer it to its namesake here.”

Friday October 6, 1961; “Symbolic of the community’s Dutch heritage, the windmill at Windmill Park is one of Holland’s favorite beauty spots and the subject of many an interesting picture. In summer and winter, fall and spring, this sentry at the north entrance to Holland with its setting of willows and ornamental shrubs provides that certain touch that few cities can duplicate. A similar development on the Black River front east of River Ave. is being considered.”

Wednesday October 11, 1961; “Carter Brown of Castle Park, originator of the idea, was appointed permanent chairman of “Operation Windmill”. He is now in the process of making initial appointments to the executive committee.”

Friday October 20, 1961; ““Project Windmill” has received its first offer of materials for the program which hopes to have a windmill constructed on the river site along with canals and other development. The offer came in a letter from T. Keppel’s Sons which offered some materials when development reaches that point.”

So the prospect of an authentic Dutch windmill has become real in the minds of the Holland City Council, the Tulip Time Board of Directors, and local businessmen.

Stay tuned to see how they will they make this idea a reality for the city of Holland!

Heinz Waterfront Walkway

Year round walking, running and biking is easy to do in west Michigan.

The extensive list of trails that appears on the West Michigan Trails & Greenways Coalition verifies an impressive number of trails and includes more than 1100 original photos, directions to trail locations and detailed descriptions of the terrain and area covered. I encourage you to spend some time exploring their web site. As a hiker and biker, I found it very inspiring!


A small portion (1800 feet) of the trail system in West Michigan runs along the south shoreline of Lake Macatawa and is called the Heinz Waterfront Walkway.


Donated by the Heinz Company,  the walkway reciprocated land given to Heinz by Holland in 1896 for the building of a pickle factory.

The entrance to the Heinz Waterfront Walkway is on the west end of Kollen Park.

The trail winds along the waterfront near a large Heinz building.

Despite low temperatures the day we visited, there were many people out enjoying the area; strolling, walking their dogs and even, as you can see in the photo above, kayaking on Lake Macatawa!

20181226_150153We parked near the entrance and walked along the lakefront. Plaques describing the boardwalk and its history are posted on remnants of a large pickle barrel.

One said, “In 1896, representatives of the H.J. Heinz Company toured several cities in western Michigan looking for an ideal location for a new pickle processing factory. In December of 1896, Heinz committed to building a pickle factory in Holland if local farmers would pledge 300 acres of cucumbers for Heinz and if the City of Holland would donate a building site with water shipping access and a rail siding.

20181226_143817Local citizens and farmers pledged more than 500 acres of cucumbers, and the City of Holland purchased two acres of land for $800 on the present day site.

This site provided a rail siding and water access for shipping.

Groundbreaking for the new pickle factory occurred on April 19, 1897 and the original building was dedicated on June 1, 1897. The 16,000 square foot building cost $2100. Today the Heinz facility includes 17 buildings covering 29 acres.”

20181226_143533The boardwalk ends at 16th Street and we followed the sidewalk along the street back to Kollen Park Drive and into Kollen Park.

Here we viewed the Immigrant Statue, a gift from the people of Drenthe in the Netherlands.

According to Wikipedia, “Drenthe has been populated for 150,000 years. The region has subsequently been part of the Episcopal principality of Utrecht, Habsburg Netherlands, Dutch Republic, Batavian Republic, Kingdom of Holland and Kingdom of the Netherlands.

20181226_143640Drenthe is an official province since 1796. The capital and seat of the provincial government is Assen.

The King’s Commissioner of Drenthe is Jetta Klijnsma. The Labour Party (PvdA) is the largest party in the States-Provincial, followed by the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) and the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA).”

Kollen Park has a large group picnic shelter, a band shelter, a gazebo, playground, boat launch ramps, limited docking facilities, parking, and several hundred feet of Lake Macatawa frontage with boardwalks and fishing decks.

American Legion concerts are held at Kollen Park every Tuesday from June 11 to August 13. The Summer Concert Series takes place on Fridays from June 14 to August 23.


Tulip Time Countdown 1948

tulip time dutch dancers, holland, michigan photo postcard c. 19352019 marks the 90th celebration of Tulip Time in Holland Michigan.

We’re new2holland so this is the first Tulip Time we’ll see in person. Our excitement builds everyday!

In 2004 Reader’s Digest rated the festival as the best small town festival in the USA.

In 2016, the event was ranked the #1 Flower Festival by USA Today.

But Tulip Time has been making the list of top festivals for a long time.

“A full picture layout in a Miami [Florida] newspaper Jan. 6 gave prominent space to a four-column photo of Klompen dancers, one the the highlights of the local fete.

Other leading American festivals pictorially represented were the Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Tournament of Roses in Pasadena, Winter Carnival at Dartmouth college, Frontier Days at Cheyenne, Wyo., Mummer’s parade in Philadelphia, Gasparilla Carnival at Tampa, Fla., and Apple Blossom festival at Winchester, Va.”

How did this exciting news from Miami Florida reach Holland Michigan in 1948?

“The newspaper sheet was sent to the local Chamber of Commerce by Chester Van Tongeren who is vacationing in Florida.”

Source: The Holland Evening Sentinel, Saturday January 10, 1948 page 5.

Vintage Tulip Time, What Year?

Can you guess when this picture was taken? 📸

The cars in the background provide great clues. 🚗

Tulip fields in Holland, Michigan 1960's era postcard 1The photo became a postcard made by LL Cook Co. in Milwaukee Wisconsin. The caption on the back says, “Here a few of Holland’s sweethearts add to the color at Nelis Tulip Farm.” 🌷💕🌷💕

Join us for the 90th celebration of Tulip Time in Holland Michigan May 4-12, 2019! 🌷💐

Experience Holland’s Dutch culture with parades, markets, national entertainment, local arts, tours, 5k &10k runs, traditional dance and tons of family fun. 🏃‍♀️🏃‍♂️ 💃🕺

This is a festival you won’t want to miss! 🎡🎉🎏

#BookToday to reserve 🛌🛀 luxury accomodations at 🍂🍁#suiteretreatholland in #waukazoowoods. We’re close to the excitement yet far from the 🚗🚲 traffic.

Book your stay today at Suite Retreat Holland