Lake County Historical Society receives light pole donation

BALDWIN -- The Lake County Historical Society and Museum has received a donation of a 1920's vintage street light from Dunrovin management. The light pole was installed in front of the Historical Society Museum and Library on July 13, with the first lighting at dusk.


The Village of Baldwin installed its first electric light poles in the late 1920s, just prior to the construction of the new Pleasant Plains Township Auditorium. The poles were constructed of cast iron with a "birdcage" style cast iron and glass globe.

According to historical photos there were six light poles originally placed along Michigan Avenue, although additional ones may have been added.

By the early to mid-1940s the glass globes atop the light poles had been changed to an "all glass" globe style. It is not known why the globes were changed, except maybe to update them for the times. These light poles remained in place through the late 1940s, when they suddenly are absent from the museums collection of photos.

It is not known why the light poles were removed. It was thought possibly that the cast iron was taken for the war effort as other iron products in the county were being salvaged. The majority of the remaining buildings in the Marlborough Great Northern Portland Cement Company plant were being torn down at this time and the iron sent off to be used in the war effort. A search of the Lake County Star newspapers from the time yielded no clues.

Fortunately, two light poles were rescued by lifetime resident Milo Drilling, whose parents managed the Dunrovin property south of Baldwin. Upon the sale of the property to Lewellyns and subsequently to Whirlpool for their corporate retreat, the Drillings purchased a corner of the original property immediately south of the Dunrovin driveway.

In later years Milo lived in a home built there and reinstalled the light poles at the end of his driveway. Many locals remember seeing them lighted at night when driving south out of town. It is a mystery as to how and why Milo saved two light poles, but the historical museum is glad that he did.

Upon the passing of Milo, Dunrovin purchased the land back and added the acreage to their resort property. They removed the two light poles at that time and placed them in storage. Recently Dunrovin management donated one of the two poles and the last remaining glass globe to the Lake County Historical Museum. We are very fortunate and appreciative to have received this important artifact.

The light pole has been reinstalled on the museum property along Eighth Street, at the corner of the Community House. Isenhart Electric of Big Rapids has rewired the lamp and set the light pole in place.

The light pole will be lit each night just as it was decades ago. It will be proudly displayed at the museum for everyone in the community to enjoy for decades to come. We are proud to be able to preserve this important part of our history.

Funds are being raised to cover the cost of the restoration and installation of the light pole at the Lake County Historical Museum at 915 N. Michigan Avenue. If you are interested in supporting this project, please forward a donation of any amount to LCHS, PO Box 774, Baldwin, MI 49304. Thank you in advance for helping preserve our heritage!