The Heritage Museum & Cultural Center

SHIPWRECKS: A Deep Look at The Origins of The Self-Unloaders
The Heritage Museum and Cultural Center – St. Joseph, Michigan

August 2008 – August 2010

 LvH wrote the successful grant application for a 500-square foot temporary exhibit, book, and public presentation, funded by the Michigan Humanities Council, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. LvH curated, designed, and fabricated the exhibit, wrote and published a book entitled Buckets and Belts, and delivered the public presentation. Winner of a 2009 award, as part of the larger Working Waterfront Exhibit, from the Historical Society of Michigan

Exhibit Synopsis: The history of commercial shipping on the Great Lakes is the history of moving bulk cargos, especially iron ore, coal, grain, and stone for our nation’s industrialization. Tens of thousands of freighters have navigated the Great Lakes, but the inland seas are dangerous. Storms and collisions prevented many ships from reaching their destinations.  Hundreds have ended their careers in watery graves on the bottom of Lake Michigan alone. Three of southern Lake Michigan’s shipwrecks, the sailing schooner Rockaway, the steam freighter H.C. Akeley and the self-unloader Hennepin, represent key stages of the shipping industry. Through their study, we gain valuable new insights into the demands of cargo transport, and how schooners evolved into the 600-foot self-unloading freighters that frequent St. Joseph’s harbor today.


WORKING WATERFRONTS: Planning and Preserving the Maritime Traditions of St. Joseph and Benton Harbor
The Heritage Museum and Cultural Center –
St. Joseph, Michigan
March 2009 – March 2011
Winner of a 2009 award from the Historical Society of Michigan

LvH fabricated the interpretive panels for this 2000 square foot exhibit that ran for three years.

Exhibit Synopsis: The exhibit celebrates the local working waterfront through seven topics:  Harbor Development, Ship and Boatbuilding, Commercial Shipping, Fishing, Recreation, the U.S. Life Saving Service and Coast Guard, and of course, St. Joseph’s Lighthouses. Though much of St. Joseph and Benton Harbor’s working waterfront is now gone, visitors can view images of past features, such as ship building enterprises, commercial family fishers, and the Silver Beach Amusement Park.

working waterfronts