Videos preserving township history now available online

Laketown Oral History Project talks to residents about local history.
Patty Meyer, organizer of the Laketown Oral History Project, introduces the videos now available on the Laketown Township website.

Videos from a dozen interviews including firefighters, seminary students, volunteers and disc golf players in Laketown Township are now available online.

The first set of videos from the Laketown Oral History Project have been posted on the township’s website here.

The videos are also available through Vimeo.

Wayne Van Ommen talks about his role as a firefighter in this image captured from the Laketown Township Oral History Project video collection now available on the township’s website.

The project

“The purpose of the oral history project is to preserve the voices, memories and perspectives of people in Laketown’s history, from the distant past to the present day,” said project organizer Patty Meyer in the introduction of each video.

The more than 5 hours of recordings were made in late 2022 and 2023 at the Felt Mansion, 6597 138th Ave., by Fresh Look Video of Grand Rapids. Laketown Township Public Information Coordinator Jim Hayden conducted the interviews.

Videos range from about 13 minutes to 40 minutes.

The township plans to continue interviewing residents.

Those included in the video interviews:

Karen Walters Knoll, first female member of the board of trustees; Patty Meyer, former executive director of the Felt Estate; Wendy Elms, former township clerk; Jamie Krupka, from the Outdoor Discovery Center; Kevin Stoike, parks volunteer; Gary Dewey, former township treasurer; Greg Carnevale, graduate of the St. Augustine Seminary; Ona Strabbing, parks volunteer; Ben Barton, founder of the disc golf course; Ray Buursma, former corrections officer at the prison; Wayne Van Ommen, long-time firefighter; and Donald Lamar, township resident since 1940 who worked on the master plan for development.

For more information, call (616) 335-3050.

If you or someone you know would like to be considered for future interviews for the Laketown Oral History Project, email Jim Hayden at jimh@laketowntwp.org.

Ben Barton, founder of the Shore Acres Disc Golf Course, talks about the how the popular spot originated in this image captured from the Laketown Township Oral History Project video collection now available on the township’s website.

More township history

Laketown Township has long been active in maintaining its history.

The township website includes a section of historical newspaper reports and excerpts from minutes that help tell the Laketown story.

The Old Township Hall, built in 1883, remains on 142nd Avenue with a plaque explaining its role in the development of the township. The Felt Estate, 6597 138th Ave., preserves a 1920s mansion and grounds of Dorr Felt, inventor of the early adding machine. The original Gibson Church was moved to the estate.

Minutes from 1917 to the present are available at the township hall. Older minutes are kept at the Holland Museum and are available for viewing on request.

The website includes a news feed of developing events and issues. The site links to media reports on events in the township.

Informational signs at the township parks share the natural history of the area. Both Farview Park, 6257 138th Ave., and Sanctuary Woods Parks, 4750 66th St., have remnants of the Interurban Railway that once ran between Holland and Saugatuck.