There are several ways that you can help the Pentwater Historical Society beyond visiting the museum or attending our events.

You can become a member, give your financial support, or donate artifacts.

We encourage and appreciate your participation and support of our mission to remind visitors and residents of the history and heritage of Pentwater and the role that the natural areas surrounding it played in evolvement of that heritage.

You can follow this link – Feedback/Donations – to donate and/or give us feedback.

If you have any questions please contact Debbie Deward 231-869-2230. Thank you.



Donate via Little Green Light/Stripe – Donate/Feedback

By Mail:

Pentwater Historical Society
P.O. Box 54
Pentwater, MI 49449

Donations are always welcome to assist the Pentwater Historical Society in Education, Preservation of Artifacts, and the operation of the Museum. Pentwater Historical Society is a Section 501(c)(3) Not-for-Profit Organization. Donations are tax deductible. If you wish to support one of our projects, or our general fund, please donate online (via PayPal) or by mail.

Donations can be made in any increment that you wish at any time. If you would like your monetary donation to be used toward a specific project, please alert us to which project you are interested in supporting!

We are currently in the planning phase for an expansion of the museum, with opportunities to donate your expertise, time, or funds. For more information go to The Museum Expansion Update or contact a board member or our fundraising team via

Photographs & Artifacts

By Mail:

Pentwater Historical Society
P.O. Box 54
Pentwater, MI 49449

We are always looking to add to our collection in the hopes of preserving and sharing Pentwater’s rich history with generations to come.

If you have artifacts, photographs or other items of historical significance that you would like to donate to the Pentwater Historical Society, please contact us so we can make arrangements to meet with you!

Special Call for Historical Photographs

We are in the process of gathering historical pictures of the outside and inside of historical buildings and homes in Pentwater. If you have any older photographs of your historical home we would love to see them! If you would like to share inside pictures of your home currently we would love to see those as well!

You can email, mail, or drop off your photos to the Historical Museum. Please be sure to include the address and an approximate date of the photograph if you are able. All pictures will be returned so be sure to include your name and where to return the pictures as well!

Email to Info:
(Please put “Pentwater – Pictures” in the subject line)

Mail to:
Pentwater Historical Society
Attn: Museum Director
P.O. Box 54
Pentwater, MI 49449
(Please include your name and where you would like your photographs to be returned)

Drop off:
Pentwater Historical Museum
85 South Rutledge
Pentwater, MI 49449

Thank you for your willingness to share the history and all that Pentwater has to offer with visitors and citizens alike. We look forward to sharing your bit of history!

The Pentwater Historical Society encourages and appreciates your interest in volunteering!


The museum is in desperate need of volunteers to assist in the archiving of Museum Artifacts. Each and every artifact needs to be cataloged. This will include photographing and entering information into a program called Past Perfect. We will train interested volunteers in the use of this program. Please email or contact the Museum Director if you are interested.

Please contact us at and let us know your availability and areas of interest.

by Norm Shotwell

The Pentwater Historical Society (PHS) membership has approved plans to expand the Society’s Museum. The expansion will more than double the available display space, provide meeting space for the Society and community groups, and enhance the research capability of the Society and its guests.

Actual design will begin when about 49% of the fundraising goal has been reached and construction will begin at completion of the Phase 1 fundraising phase. Fundraising has already begun. The first phase of the project will cost about $1,200,000. The Society has matching contributions plus pledges of over $400,000.

In parallel with fund raising, the PHS Board is establishing focus groups in order to develop details for various aspects of the expansion. Listed here are the groups currently planned. If you would like to participate in a group, contact Norm Shotwell via email (


  • The exterior look
  • The mechanical and electrical system for museum use
  • How to improve the existing entrance to the museum
  • Building structure system
  • Artifact layout in the existing and new display areas
  • Artifact presentation
  • Permanent vs rotating displays in the museum
  • Warming kitchen layout and function
  • How to create usable space in the north east open area
  • Event needs
  • School group needs
  • Researcher needs

The PHS will attempt to incorporate materials from structures that might be demolished or repurposed. It has already captured some Pentwater bricks from a demolished structure in Hart, and additional brick could be recovered from the Pentwater Community Hall building if it were to be demolished. The feasibility of removing the old basketball court flooring for use in the expansion is under review.

The PHS is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. If you would like to donate towards this exciting addition to Pentwater’s character, please do so via the Community Foundation for Oceana County. The PHS established a project fund with the Foundation to help with gift administration and to hold campaign contributions in a money market fund. Contributions can be sent to the Foundation via check, cash wire, stock transfer, or IRA funds, designated for the PHS Building Expansion Fund. For assistance in facilitating gifts of any size or type, contact Tammy Carey at the Foundation at (231) 869-3377.

More Information


Download the Expansion Fundraising Form


Check out this video on YouTube showing a virtual tour of the concept

Where were the first buildings in Pentwater?

The founders of Pentwater were E.R. Cobb and Andrew Rector. In 1853 they built two buildings – a boarding house near the current water tower and a lumber mill, both on the south end of Hancock St. Who was Charles Mears?

Lumber baron, Charles Mears, built the channel to Lake Michigan and placed his sawmill on its north bank in 1855. A store and boarding house were built next nearby. Mears called this site Middlesex and included all of the land east to Hancock street. Middlesex was absorbed into Pentwater when the village was formed in 1867.

In 1858 Mears established a ferry service across the channel. He also built a 660 foot long pier out into Lake Michigan from the north bank of the channel so that the largest boats on the lake could haul lumber to his yards in Chicago and drop off cargo for the village. In 1920, Mears’ daughter, Carrie, deeded 600 feet of beach north of the channel to the state of Michigan as the beginning of the present Charles Mears State Park.