Lecture Series

The Heritage Museum and Cultural Center of Saint Joseph, Michigan, is pleased to announce our new speaker series, the 2021 Fall Lecture Series, featuring public talks celebrating Southwest Michigan history and culture. The series delivers experiences that inform, delight, and enlighten those interested in the heritage of the Twin Cities and surrounding communities of Southwest Michigan. 

The talks are open to the public and free.

Lecture Series

presented by The Heritage Museum and Cultural Center

February 24, 2021 at 6:30 PM

Idlewild: A Special Place for African Americans

Established in 1912, Idlewild welcomed African Americans with no restrictions at a time when segregation was rampant. The small town eventually became one of the most popular African-American resorts in the Midwest. Journey back through the decades when Idlewild offered rest, relaxation, and a respite from racism.

Morris Thomas

Professor of Geography, Environment, and Spatial Sciences
Michigan State University

March 10, 2021 at 6:30 PM

West Michigan Pike: Road from the Metropolis to the Beaches

The West Michigan Pike (US 31) celebrates its 100th anniversary as one of the country’s first highways and later an interstate. Designed with the idea of accommodating the newly accessible automobiles, it served as a conduit to spur development and tourism in western Michigan. Its presence has created the vast tourism industry that continues to fuel our economy.

This talk will focus on how the road transformed cities and towns along its route. A particular emphasis will be paid to Benton Harbor, St. Joseph, South Haven, Holland, and Muskegon as their roles from tourist destinations to weekend getaways developed for Chicago tourists. We will also trace the development of the personal automobile as being the catalyst for this progression.

George Maniates

Instructor of History
Muskegon Community College

March 31, 2021 at 6:30 PM

Memories of Silver Beach

Please join us for an interactive discussion of Memories of Silver Beach, led by Kathy Zerler. She had the pleasure of interviewing the late Roberta Drake Terrill in her St. Joseph home for one of the chapters of On the Banks of the Ole St. Joe, a book Kathy produced to promote the city of St. Joseph.

Mrs. Terrill was the daughter of Logan Drake, founder of The Silver Beach Amusement Park. She grew up working in the park, and later became the park’s owner, and then ran it with her husband Horace “Chief” Terrill. She was exuberant about her life at Silver Beach as she shared 35 of her personal photographs as well as her own memories of growing up in a place that was designed for fun.

“The whole idea was to have fun,” Mrs. Terrill said. “Mr. Drake insisted on honesty from all of us, that’s all, and we loved working there. He didn’t want anyone cheated out of having a good time.”

April 14, 2021 at 6:30 PM

How to Find a Lost French Fort (and What to Do with It Once You Do)

When Fort St. Joseph was first discovered by Western Michigan University archaeologists in 1998, they had no idea that the site would consume their efforts for more than two decades. Archaeological investigations, interpretations, and public involvement demonstrate that the site contains important information of broad interest to students, professionals, and history enthusiasts alike. In this presentation the principal investigator discusses how we located and excavated Fort St. Joseph, what we learned, and the need for partnerships to sustain our archaeological heritage for future generations.

Michael Nassaney, PhD

Professor Emeritus of Anthropology
Western Michigan University

Principal Investigator of the Fort St. Joseph Archaeological Project

Past Lectures

Tuesday, October 27, 2020, 6:30 PM

Bob Myers, Director of Education, Historical Society of Michigan


The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi – Keepers of the Fire

Tuesday November 10, 2020, 6:30 PM

John N. Low, JD, Ph.D., Ohio State University – Newark, Pokagon Band of Potawatomi


The Jewish Heritage of Southwest Michigan

Thursday, December 3, 6:30 PM

Michael Eliasohn, Board of Directors, Michiana Jewish Historical Society

View recording on YouTube