HART — Representatives of the Hart Area Preservation Group, which oversees the Hart Historic District, presented their annual reports for 2020 and 2021 to the Hart City Council Tuesday, Jan. 11.

Despite having to reduce some of their planned activities due to pandemic restrictions in 2020, the group was able host four of its six scheduled summer concerts as well as offer a take-out style dinner during its annual Labor Day Heritage Days in September.

After volunteers were fully vaccinated in early 2021, the group was able to work on a number of maintenance and remodeling projects, including the refinishing of the front doors and pews of the historic Sackrider Church, the restoration of the Glover caboose, the addition of a 40-foot deck, a 24-foot deck and two handicap ramps to the railroad depot building as well as scraping and painting of the outside of the depot, using 65 gallons of paint. In September the group was able to purchase the Bob Mudget Carpenter Shop, as well as a vacant lot (65-feet-by-125 feet) adjacent to it. The building is currently undergoing thorough cleaning and renovation with hopes of turning it into a small heritage artisan community center for use by the community.

Also in 2021 the board initiated a special “Guide by Cell” tour guide program, and with a grant from the Community Foundation of Oceana County, it was able to cover the entire cost of the initial two-year contract. Since its inception the program has allowed visitors to call a special phone number (231-742-4134) and receive a 30-second or more description of each exhibit. Once visitors are dialed in, they can enter each exhibit’s identification number without redialing. This special self-guided program is available anytime and has received many positive comments. The new program was used by 176 people in 2021. The group was pleased to report that donations and rentals (of the Sackrider Church, Mudget Pavilion and Heritage Hall) were all up in 2021 as well. The recent improvements to Lincoln Street have been a great addition to the district, and representatives took advantage of the new pavement by hosting their first Hart Heritage Car Show in June. The show was so successful, the group plans to host the event annually. The Hart Historic Preservation Group has six faithful volunteers — Russ Robbins, Leigh Furgason, Gale Goldberg, Mike Tate and Ron Thatcher — who work every Tuesday and Thursday and many days in-between. They were very thankful to the city for its continued support and concluded their report saying, “Our objective is to provide spaces and services to enhance community historic events, education, arts and crafts.”

More volunteers are always welcome all year around. Regular meetings are March through November on the fourth Thursday of every month at 7 p.m. in Heritage Hall. For more information on volunteering, exhibits, tours, rentals or donations, people may contact Robbins at 231-747-5916; Furgason at 231-869-2042 or visit the Hart Historic District and Museum website at www.harthistoricdistrict.com