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HomeHistory /  The Museums

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THE OLD MORMON PRINT SHOP MUSEUM
(on the National Register)

Built in 1850 by the followers of King James Jesse Strang, our museum was first used as a print shop. The press and the people are long gone, but the stories of their stay have captured the imagination of many writers and many historians alike.

Northern Michigan's first newspaper was published here, as well as religious tracts and Strang's Mormon doctrines.

In this Kingdom of St. James, Strang was crowned as King of his people.  He ruled their lives and accumulated five wives during his eight-year reign.  In 1856 Strang was  mortally wounded near the water's edge by two of his former supporters.  A special room is assigned to his life and his followers.

The Mormons were expelled from the island by a resentful mob which came across the lake to reclaim power over this strategic port, end a dramatic era. 

The Print Shop is now the general museum for the Beaver Island Historical Society.  Besides displaying the story of Strang and his times, it has several other exhibits, some of which are rotated: early Irish life; the Island's musicians; Native American materials; and a new display, "Then and Now", depicting changes to the Island through pairs of matching photographs. Its archives contain much material: "oral history" tapes and transcriptions, diaries, genealogical records, and land records as well as photos.

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THE MARINE MUSEUM

An authentic net shed, built in 1906, houses our growing collection of memorabilia from the days when St. James Harbor was teeming with commercial activity.  At one time the water's edge was ringed with vessels of the fishing fleets and commercial traffic, and for many a Great Lakes' captain the harbor was home.

The Maine Museum opened in 1980. It tells the story of the busy days in the harbor.  Those times included not only fishing, but also the shipping of the products from the mill.  Also represented are memories of the disasters which overtook the men and ships of the Island, and the efforts of the Coast Guard and Lighthouse Services which came to the aid of those in distress.

In this building you will also find material about shipbuilding, the vessels which have served the Island, and diving activities.

Look for information about the other islands in the Beaver archipelago as well.

By the waters edge, the Society is restoring a wooden gill-net boat which fished northern waters since 1935. Donations to help the project are sought.

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THE PROTAR HOME
(On the National Register)

Built of hand-hewn logs, this cabin stands in a rural settling and looks as it did when the highly-regarded Doctor Protar lived here, from 1893 until his death in 1925.

Descended from prominent educators in Estonia, Feodar Protar migrated to this country in 1874.  He traveled, worked on the stage, and edited a successful newspaper for many years before he found Beaver Island -- the place he was to spend the remainder of his years.  For the rest of his life, he followed a spiritual quest in a modest environment. He wished to live from the produce of the land and was anxious to help his fellow men.  Though he did not claim to be a physician, he found he could cure many of the simpler ailments of his neighbors on the island and earned their gratitude and respect.  Protar never accepted money for his services, but instead used his income to help others in times of trouble.

When he died, his friends erected a tomb west of his home and its inscription still expresses the sentiments of the population: "to our Heaven-Sent Friend from his people of Beaver Island."

The exterior of his home, the grounds and the tomb (1/4 mile west) can be seen by visitors. A special room in the Print Shop Museum is devoted to his life.

Open during Museum Week and by special appointment

 

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