Illini Association on the Old Mission Peninsula | Jane Boursaw Photo
Illini Association on the Old Mission Peninsula | Jane Boursaw Photo

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The Old Mission Peninsula Historical Society is in a go-mode for the Fall/Winter season, and the October program is not to be missed. Bob and Penny Rosi will present a program on “The History of the Illini Association on the OMP.”

Everyone in the community is invited to attend this meeting, which will take place on Thursday, Oct. 3, 7 p.m. at the Peninsula Township Hall, 13235 Center Road on the Old Mission Peninsula. Here’s why you should make it a priority…

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A Hidden Gem on the OMP

The Illini Association [pronounced “i”-(short “i”)-line-i (long “i”)] is one of the original resorts on the Old Mission Peninsula, and the folks who live and summer there generally fly under the radar. By that, I mean you don’t hear much about this area of the OMP, and the Rosi’s presentation will be a great opportunity to learn more about this hidden gem on the OMP.

The Illini Association (officially called the “Illini Cottagers Association”) is located on the far north end of Peninsula Drive, where it turns into a dirt road before you get to Swaney Road, on a non-descript two-track trail that meanders through woodlands and fields to West Bay.

Illini Association on the Old Mission Peninsula
Illini Association on the Old Mission Peninsula | Jane Boursaw Photo

When Jack Solomonson was installing phone lines back in the early days of Peninsula Telephone Company, he recalled seeing John F. Kennedy playing tennis there one time. Because of JFK’s presence at the Illini Association, Jack was tasked with setting up an answering system before mainstream answering systems were even available.

And, back in the last century when I was doing freelance writing and editing, I did some work for someone at the Illini Association who worked on the Manhattan Project. Like I said, it’s a hidden gem with some very interesting people throughout history.

Join the OMP Historical Society

The Historical Society is also in the midst of a membership drive, and everyone who’s interested in the history of the Old Mission Peninsula is invited to join the group. There will be membership applications at the Oct. 3 meeting, or if you’d like to fill one out ahead of time, click here to download the application.

The membership dues are $5/year for students, $10/year for individuals, $15/year for families, and $25/year for businesses. Make checks payable to “Old Mission Peninsula Historical Society.”

Hessler Log Cabin at Lighthouse Park on the Old Mission Peninsula
Hessler Log Cabin at Lighthouse Park on the Old Mission Peninsula | Jane Boursaw Photo

The OMP Historical Society spearheads a number of projects and events each year, and has been instrumental in restoring many historical sites on the OMP. Their accomplishments include:

  • Organizing “Log Cabin Day” each year, which attracts hundreds of people to tour Mission Point Lighthouse, the Hessler Log Home and the Dougherty Home. The event also includes historical music, crafts, games, storytelling and more. Check out some photos from this year’s Log Cabin Day here.
  • Restoring and maintaining the historic Hessler Log Home at Lighthouse Park, Mission Point Lighthouse, and the Replica Log Church in Old Mission.
  • Working with the Peter Dougherty Society to help restore and maintain the Dougherty House and Museum in Old Mission. See photos from this year’s dedication celebration here. Docents began giving tours this summer, and continue throughout the fall on Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Organizing excellent monthly historic presentations at the OMP Historical Society meetings (see upcoming programs below).
  • Planting some 640 trees on the OMP for aesthetic, environmental, memorial and historic reasons.
  • Creating an audio tour of historic sites on the OMP.
  • Building and placing memorial benches.
  • Maintaining a website and Facebook page.

Upcoming Programs

Upcoming programs at OMP Historical Society meetings include:

October 3: “‘History of the Illini Association on the OMP” – Bob and Penny Rosi, presenters

November 7: “Peninsula Calling” – Interviews with Vi Solomonson and daughter Mary Jo Lance, Peninsula Telephone Company – Tim and Jane Boursaw, presenters

December 5, 5:30 p.m.: Holiday Potluck and Music, American Legion Hall, Old Mission

January 3, 2020: “Michigan Shipwrecks, Near and Far” – Diver Chris Roxburgh, presenter

February 6, 2020: “History of the Great Lakes Maritime Academy” – Rear Admiral Jerry Achenbach, Superintendent, Great Lakes Maritime Academy, presenter

All programs, except for potlucks, are held at the Peninsula Township Hall.

Whether your family has been on the OMP for generations or you just moved here, the OMP Historical Society is a great way to meet your neighbors, make new friends, and learn more about our amazing homeland. For more information, visit the OMP Historical Society website here.

We need your support...

At a time when newspapers across the country are dying in droves, small community newspapers like Old Mission Gazette are the wave of the future. Owners Tim and Jane Boursaw are devoted to the Old Mission Peninsula community, but we need your ongoing support to keep delivering OMP news, history, photos, events and more. We rely on generous reader support to keep doing what we do, and every contribution, big or small, is valuable. Click HERE to support Old Mission Gazette. Thank you!


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