The Benzie Area Historical Society

We Connect Benzie County with History

The Benzie Area Historical Society

The mission of the Benzie Area Historical Society is to connect people to the past through the vibrant story of our region. By collecting, preserving, and interpreting the history of the Benzie area, we link past with present and inspire future generations.

Our most prized artifact is our Museum home. The Benzie Area Historical Museum, owned and operated by the Society, collects and preserves artifacts, photos, and stories about our past. The Museum is housed in an 1887 Congregational Church building and is on the Michigan State Register of Historic Sites.

Benzie County Archives

The  Benzie County Archives, housed in the Benzie Area Historical Museum, include photographs, letters, manuscripts, documents and other ephemera organized and available to researchers, schools, writers, and the general public. Our archivists have catalogued over 34,000 objects in PastPerfect (museum collection management software), and our research, genealogy, and archive team uses this space to provide research opportunities for the general public.

Junior Historians Program

Every year, hundreds of students participate in our Junior Historians program, visit the Museum or Drake School for tours, and receive primary source research training.

BAHS Quarterly Newsletter

Learning about local history helps people realize the grand scheme of historical change is made up of countless individuals like them who in their own ways contributed to the ongoing story of our community. The first issue of the Society’s newsletter, The Benzie Quarterly (now the Benzie Heritage) was published in 1981.  “The Benzie County Story” contains fascinating people and information, and the newsletter’s goal is to share these stories in an interesting, entertaining, and engaging manner.  

BAHS Book Publications

Over the years, the BAHS has published many books about local history.  Recent books include:  Sailing Crystal Lake: A Short History;  Thompsonville in Time: A Northwest Michigan Story (1890-2021); The Royal Frontenac Hotel;  Aux Becs Scies:  Frankfort Harbor (1860-1920), and Landmarks of Betsie Bay.    

Monthly Lecture Series

The Benzonia Academy Lecture Series, held in conjunction with the Mills Community House, continues the tradition of the Benzonia Academy (1863-1918), which was founded to bring modern education to Northwest Michigan. Through this series the Society offers lectures to the general public on local history, as well as topics of national and international interest.  Lectures are held at the Mills Community House in Benzonia on the second Thursday of each month.

Programs, Tours and Other Events

Over the past 50 years, BAHS has offered a variety of engaging programs, including walking tours of local villages and bus tours featuring other points of local interest.  We also collaborate with other historical societies, libraries, arts centers and civic organizations.  In recent years we have sponsored performances of the Benzie Community Band, tours of the S.S. City of Milwaukee Car Ferry, and ArtiFactory, an artifact-based poetry program, with the Oliver Arts Center in Frankfort, Michigan.

Museum Associations and Local Partnerships

The BAHS is a member of the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) and the Michigan Museum Association (MMA).  We support the local community as well, through the Benzie Chamber of Commerce and through our partnerships with the Mills Community House and other non-profit organizations.

The BAHS is a Community Resource

The BAHS is a Michigan non-profit and IRS 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization. The Society employs a full time executive director. All other functions are performed by volunteers. The Museum depends solely on donations for its operation.

The BAHS Conflict of Interest Policy can be viewed using the following link:

BAHS Conflict of Interest Policy

Our current IRS Form 990 can be viewed using the following link:

BAHS IRS Form 990