Ox-Bow is proud to call Saugatuck home.
Saugatuck retains its essential traditional character and quaint charm, having been spared the suburbanization of chain store and "mall" invasion that makes most other places look almost identical to each other. At the same time, the villages offer much in terms of first class lodging, restaurants, recreation, shipping and cultural opportunities.
an urban escape
It was to this setting that urbanites from Chicago and as far away as St. Louis started escaping in the early 1900's, although the settlement of the area began in the 1830's by lumber barons who founded a nearby village that is now known as the lost village of Singapore. For many years the villages supported a thriving mix of sawmills, barrel factories, and other wood product firms - the area contributed much of the lumber used to rebuild Chicago after the Great Fire of 1871.
Key to the area's history and popularity is its natural environment. Saugatuck and Douglas are nestled on the shores of Lake Michigan and the Kalamazoo River and are defined by steep, rolling dunes to the west and lush orchard country and farmland to the east. The climate is blessed by the moderating effects of Lake Michigan, which provides cool breezes on warm summer days and plenty of winter snow.
historical resort town
A resort, tourist, and "cottage" culture emerged in the 1880's and took a propitious turn in 1910 when a group of Chicago artists established the Summer School of Painting on the Ox-Bow Lagoon and when a huge dance hall, called the Big Pavilion, was built on the waterfront. The resulting influx of well-known artists and big name Chicago architects resulted in a wave of buildings in the Arts & Crafts and Colonial Revival manner. The seed planted at Ox-Bow has continued to flourish over the years, with the area currently known as the Art Coast of Michigan.
art coast of west michigan
The area's many historical buildings, fine art galleries, and famous chain ferry, together with the art of recreation, the art of learning, and the art of nature are all aspects of the area's history.