Located just 30 miles southwest of Grand Rapids, on the western coast of Michigan is the beautiful resort town of Holland. The history of Holland Michigan is a classic American tale filled with hardworking immigrants who came to this country seeking promise and prosperity. From the moment it was settled it established itself as a refuge for those who sought to freely express themselves and the possibility of a vibrant future.
A group of 60 men, women and children led by Albertus C. VanRaalte set out from Rotterdam to New York hoping to escape an oppressive religious society. They were suffering from economic depression with no hope in sight. The group intended to purchase land in Wisconsin, but a harsh Midwestern winter forced a delay that caused the entire group to be stuck in Detroit. While there they learned of land on the western side of the state that was available for a settlement. They reached their destination on February 9, 1847 on the banks of Black Lake—today’s Lake Macatawa. The leader quickly saw the potential of the dense forest/swampland. He knew that they could use the trees to build homes and businesses and went about creating a community from the ground up.
The group dug out a channel for themselves that offered accessed to Lake Michigan which allowed them to transport supplies into town.
This aided greatly in the development of the area. They also cleared a one-block square of land to serve as the market square for the town. More settlers joined them and as they did the town developed and expanded. As the railroads built up they included them on their route, schools were open, the academy that was to become Hope College opened, public water systems, electrical service, telephone systems and mail delivery arrived and the town grew in size and popularity.
Today the town of 33,000+ residents is considered one of the most popular tourist towns in the state. The annual Tulip Festival, 36-acre Windmill Island Garden, beautiful Dutch/European influenced shops and beautiful beaches draw in visitors from all over the country. Residents of nearby Indiana and Illinois are often found here enjoying weekend getaways and basking on the sandy beaches of Holland State Park, touring New Holland Brewing Company or dining at the Alpenrose Restaurant and Café.
To learn more about all the village has to offer, go to Holland.org.