One of my favorite blogs is Lost in Michigan. It’s a website hosted by Mike Sonnenberg, a Saginaw photographer who travels around the state and stumbles upon picturesque but typically small and easily overlooked civic structures.
This past Sunday his blog post featured the image pictured above. He was driving on the road heading to the town of Holland when he passed what seemed to him to be a beautiful but strange looking church. So he circled back to take a photo. That’s when he saw the historical marker on the side and found out it wasn’t a church after all, but a temple to books. The marker read:
“This federated women’s club, founded as a reading circle in 1883 and named for Sir Walter Scott, merged with the Literary and Antiquarian Societies to build a clubhouse in 1892. John Cornelius Randall designed the sandstone Queen Anne structure, built by local artisans and completed in 1893. Two stained glass windows created in Austria portray Sir Walter Scott and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. This building has been in continuous use by the Scott Club as a cultural center providing fellowship for women of the area.”
How many thousands of these are strewn across the land, completely neglected when we focus on the Red Cross and the Boys and Girls Club as we seek to enumerate the institutions of civil society?