Swartout honored as Historian of the Year

A longtime head of the Tri-Cities Historical Museum was recently honored for his years of promoting history in the community. Dennis Swartout, who recently retired as the museum's executive director, was named Historian of the Year by the museum's Board of Directors during its annual Heritage Dinner on Nov. 3.
Alex Doty
Nov 18, 2011


Swartout, 65, said he is used to being on the other side of the fence when it comes to handing out the annual award.

“From my perspective, it’s unique because I’ve been on the delivery end of these for the past 10-15 years,” the Grand Haven man said.

Swartout retired this past summer after spending 11 years on the job. During his tenure, he was responsible for being involved in many accomplishments celebrating history in the community.

Shortly after taking over as director, Swartout undertook an effort to bring a museum to downtown Grand Haven, joining the train depot location on the city’s waterfront. A $2 million capital campaign allowed for the purchase and renovation of the Akeley Building, 200 Washington Ave., using no public funds.

Swartout was also responsible for spearheading the Feast of the Strawberry Moon, a living history event that will celebrate its 12th year in June 2012.

Swartout also helped spearhead a project that led to the installation of 16 historical markers in locations around the community. These markers highlight the historical significance of some of the area’s prominent features.

Swartout was quick to point out that while he was glad to be honored for his years of work, he had help from many people in the Tri-Cities community to make a lot of the accomplishments possible.

“It was a matter of me being in the right place at the right time, and getting the right people together to work on things,” he said.

Swartout said there is a supportive community of people who understand and value preserving what was unique about Grand Haven.

“I couldn’t have done it alone and I certainly didn’t do it alone,” he said.


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